During the last three weeks all Russians followed the story of a kidnapped nine-months old girl from Bryansk. Hundreds policemen and thousands volunteers were searching the missing girl. And only two days ago (on March 30th) the truth behind the Bryansk kidnapping was discovered.
Here I will trace the development of events through the prism of newspaper articles and public reactions to the news.
Chapter 1: Nine Months Old Baby Kidnapped in Bryansk
March 12, 2012
Nine-month old baby girl was abducted in Bryansk. Empty stroller was found near the site of disappearance. All police forces of the city participate in the searches.
The incident occurred on March 11 around 17:30 near the house number 33 on Pushkin Street. Toddler’s mother left the stroller for one minute as she entered the pet store. When she came out – the stroller already wasn’t there.
Passers-by immediately called emergency services. Those, in turn, contacted police. Raised by alarm, about 400 law enforcement officers went out for searches.
Several hours later, few blocks from the pet store near the house number 45, police found the dark brown stroller. The child was missing.
Police promises to find the kidnapped girl. It uses the specially trained dogs to facilitate the searches. “The whole garrison of Bryansk police has been transferred to a high code of readiness. We work with all options – Gypsies, mentally sick. The head of Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia in Bryansk region, Police Major General Valentin Kuzmin took this case under his personal control” – said the police spokesman.
In addition, about 200 volunteers joined the searches of a missing child.
Russian netizens comment:
Nadezhda: This is not the mother but some cuckoo! Mother should always be smart, strong and protect her children. Loss of a child is only her fault. No excuses!
Lyubov: My God, what a mother! How was it possible to leave baby in the street? If it’s really difficult to enter the store with a stroller – she could simply take the baby in her arms and leave the stroller. Hmmm… something is clearly wrong here. As if it was done on purpose.
vasiliy: People, what are you thinking about?? Where do you live? How can you leave a child unattended?????? Mom, did you hit your head against a tree???? Your cat is more important than a child?? For me, even if end of the world is coming, I would not make one step away from my child! She really has no brain!
Chapter 2: Camera Which Could Capture the Crime Didn’t Work
Bryansk police seized videotapes from the surveillance cameras located near the crime scene. However, the only camera that could capture the moment of kidnapping didn’t work on weekend.That video camera was installed on the building of a bank directly opposite the pet shop where the girl was abducted.
“But due to the fact that they don’t work on Sundays, the video surveillance was switched off” – said the source. He also noted that the crime scene couldn’t be observed by other cameras in the area.
The Bryansk branch of Motorists’ federation called for drivers who drove along the Pushkin Street on March 11 between 16.00 and 18.00 GMT to provide records from their car video recorders. According to a source in the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the region, drivers are responding to this call and give video footage. However, it is not known whether these records will aid the investigation.
Chapter 3: Operative Versions with Which Police Works
Mother of the kidnapped girl is 19 years. She rents an apartment in Bryansk. The baby’s father lives in Moscow, but maintains warm relations with the family. According to friends, the man loves his daughter.Currently, the basic version of abduction is conflict of the woman with toddler’s father because of her new boyfriend. Detectives contacted him by phone but he refused to talk.There are also other versions of Anya’s abduction – she could be kidnapped by a childless couple who can’t have their own children. Or she might become a victim of mentally ill people. Also investigators don’t exclude the version that the baby was kidnapped for ransom.
One media source suggested that the 19 years old mother organized the crime herself in order to sell the child.
Chapter 4: Mother of the Kidnapped Girl is Tested on Polygraph
Investigators checked the testimonies of Svetlana Shkaptsova– mother of the missing 9-months-old Anya – on polygraph. According to representatives of police, mother might be related to the disappearance of her daughter. This is why detectives decided to check her on polygraph.
- We were returning after a stroll, – cries Svetlana. – I decided to buy food for our Persian cat, and entered a pet store. I left the stroller in the street. I always do so, this is a quiet area. Then I went out of the store – and the stroller wasn’t there. At first I tried to find her myself, then asked for help from saleswoman. Asked her to call the police…
The decision to test Svetlana Shkaptsova on polygraph was taken because investigators doubt the veracity of her testimony. Mother of the missing girl behaves surprisingly calmly. At the same time detectives didn’t succeed to find any motive for the possible crime.
Russian netizens comment:
Trizhdy mama: She is a young mother, alone, without experience, no help from family… I wholeheartedly sympathize Svetlana! I also was naive in the past. With my first child I was doing some absurd mistakes; just was lucky that nothing bad happened. I really feel sorry for Svetlana. Can’t imagine how she feels now.
Pole V A: I wish to baby health and happiness. They will find her! But don’t return her to mother. Find for this baby other parents. This is what I feel in heart.
Gost: I think in this case there are only two variants: either the child’s father stole her (that’s a common thing) or mother of the girl buried her in the nearest forest and staged the abduction. It’s very unlikely that within 5-10 minutes [when mother was absent] suddenly some kidnapper-maniac appeared. Such coincidences are from the realm of science fiction.
Chapter 5: Photo Sketch of the Kidnapper
March 14, 2012
A witness saw the kidnapper!
He was described as a 30-35 years old man of average height wearing a warm winter hat.
The man grabbed the stroller once girl’s mother entered the pet shop and quickly headed in the direction of neighborhood located nearby.
From the description of witness the following photo sketch of alleged kidnapper was made.
Russian netizens comment:
leo: … may be this is child’s real father? From the picture looks like eyes and nose are similar to the girl’s.
Mariya: Pedophile!!! Can’t you see??? Find and kill the bastard!!!
Ekaterina: I just yesterday stood in the queue with a man who looked exactly like this one. Only we are a little bit far from Bryansk and also I see him quite often.
Chapter 6: 125 Married Couples Are Suspected in Abduction
March 23, 2012
Police is working with the version that the 9-month-old Anya Shkaptsova was kidnapped by parents who lost their own child.Together with doctors police compiled a list of children who for various reasons died in 2011. Their parents had already been interrogated by detectives.
- We made the list of all babies who died in 2011, – say in police. – According to medical records there are 125 such families in Bryansk region. It means that we have to visit and interview 125 families. Given the circumstances we try to work vey delicately. The main thing is not to hurt once again feelings of unfortunate people, and at the same time distinguish the suspects.
Searches for the baby missing from March 11th don’t stop for a minute. Photographs of Anya Shkaptsova have been distributed throughout the whole region and also in the surrounding areas. However, the law enforcement organs still don’t have information about her whereabouts.
Russian netizens comment:
Vova: Start searching in Moscow, she is already here…
Darina: I am sure that they will not find the girl… she might have been taken to another city already… children grow so quickly, soon it will be difficult to identify her. Even if someone sees her he will not recognize. It’s very sad story, lesson for the mother for whole life…
Olga: The girl might be kidnapped by people who accidentally killed their own baby. For example, in order to disguise the crime.
Chapter 7: The Parents of Abducted Girl Tried to Run Away
March 24, 2012
Mother and father of Anya Shkaptsova for few days did not respond the calls of investigators.
Two days after their disappearance from the city Svetlana Shkaptsova and Alexander Kulagin – parents of the missing girl – were found in Pochepsk district of Bryansk region.
- The strange disappearance of Anya’s parents from Bryansk made police to believe that they might be involved in the disappearance of their daughter, - said the police spokesman. - Svetlana and Alexander left town without warning the investigators and since then hadn’t got in touch.
The parents didn’t simply left their home – according to investigators, they deliberately went into hiding.
They were found two days later, in the house of their friends. – said a source in investigation department. Upon hearing the coming cops, Kulagin and Shkaptsova tried to hide in the basement. But the house owners revealed their location.
Anya’s parents were taken to police station for another polygraph test. This time the detectives decided to conduct a more rigorous and detailed interrogation.
Janitor, who became the principal witness and helped to make the sketch of kidnappers, said that at the time of abduction the child’s mother was not in a pet store as she claimed. The woman walked into the store, only after seeing that stroller with her baby was taken away by a man and a woman.
- According to the witness, she saw a couple with a stroller near the pet store. The child was crying loudly, and they couldn’t calm her, – said in Bryansk police department. The janitor even made remark, “What kind of parents that can’t deal with the child”. The couple then quickly took the stroller and went away. Only after that Svetlana Shkaptsova went out of a black car parked nearby. She entered the store, but after few minutes ran out to the street screaming that her child got lost.
Russian netizens comment:
myshka: It seems that parents sold the child and staged the kidnapping. From the very beginning they wrote that mother was suspiciously indifferent and calmly talked about the “abduction”. Bastards!
Misha: Possibly parents accidentally (or not) killed the baby, and then decided to make the show of alleged kidnapping, to avoid the charges of murder.
Inga: I just wish that the baby is found alive and healthy. And then they will find a good adoptive family. My prayers are for Anechka.
myk: Should use the experience of colleagues from Kazan.
[Note: commenter refers to the infamous case of torture which happened in Kazan where cops raped a man with a bottle of champagne – possibly hinting that detectives should use this method instead of polygraph]
Chapter 8: The Bryansk Kidnapping Case Is Solved
March 30, 2012
The most shocking event of the week became the news that “kidnapping” of a 9-months-old girl from Bryansk was staged.
Thousands of policemen, volunteers and simple residents of Bryansk have been looking for a missing girl; dozens of other crimes have been solved [by this effort]. And here is the finale of this terrible story – another proof of catastrophic state of morals in our society.
“Bastard,” “rubbish,” “you should be shot”… these are the words with which inhabitants of the nearby houses met Svetlana Shkaptsova, mother of the missing girl when she was taken from reenactment of the crime scene. Nobody held emotions.
For nearly three weeks the residents of Bryansk lived in anticipation of news about the missing Anna Shkaptsova. Many believed in miracle that the little girl was still alive and soon would be found. But on March 30 it was revealed that the child was dead.
First to confess in the terrible crime was Svetlana. During the interrogation, she told that her cohabitant Alexander Kulagin, drunk, beat her and strongly hit little Anya.
“After Alexander hit Anya and threw her on the sofa, she cried. I persuaded him to let me calm her and put to sleep. She was crying, resting for a while and then crying again. At that moment I understood that something is wrong with the child,” – said Shkaptsova.
According to Svetlana, Alexander did not allow her to call the ambulance fearing punishment for beating the child. After the arrest of Kulagin (he was detained in Moscow where he worked as security guard in one of research institutes) – it turned out that the decision not to seek for the help of doctors was taken by both of the parents.
Little Anna was only nine months old, and she died from injuries after two days.
“She [Svetlana] told me, the child should disappear,” – said Alexander Kulagin.
Daughter’s death, according to Kulagin, occurred long before the staging of kidnapping – on February 26. Parents decided to burn the child’s corpse. It was done by Alexander himself, in the field near the village Anokhova. For this purpose he purchased liquid for ignition, wood, and even beer.
“The fire lit very well and burned for three hours; I walked away, was watching [the fire], drank beer, smoked. When the fire burnt out, I checked with a stick that there is nothing left; and, in my opinion, nothing was there,“ - said Alexander Kulagin during the interrogation.
The ashes Kulagin later buried in the grave of his grandmother, who in the past lived in the same village Anokhova. But to complete the crime, the couple decided to commit another one… and stage the kidnapping.
In the evening of March 10, Alexander went to work in Moscow, and the next day – on March 11th – secretly left. Exactly at 15:00, disguised as a woman, he was near the pet store on Pushkin Street, 33. At this point, Svetlana had already entered the store to “buy food for cat”. According to arrangement Svetlana had to stay in the shop for three-four minutes. During this time Kulagin grabbed the empty stroller and drove it to the building where it was later found by police.
The video taken after identification of the stroller clearly shows that Svetlana felt bad. It was hard to believe that she was “in the role”. But displaying the sadness after daughter’s disappearance didn’t work all the time – and detectives, as well as neighbors paid attention to it.
“Che calmly played with cat, saying to investigators ‘my cat likes you’. Somehow she behaved inappropriately – I was in shock, – says the neighbor Lyudmila Khachaturian. – Dad suffered more than her.“
The relatives of Shkaptsova and Kulagin until now refuse to believe in Anya’s death. Tamara Vorobyova says that there are many unclear things, and mainly – the date of child’s death.
“I don’t get it. They say she was killed on March 2. Do I have hallucinations or what? March 8 [ed: International Women’s Day] she called and congratulated me. Anya was squeaking there. I asked why is the little one squeaking? She said – ‘walks after the cat’” – the cousin Tamara Vorobyova is confused.
The fact that the child’s voice was another staging will become clear during the interrogation. Kulagin told investigators that after Anya’s death they skillfully depicted a happy family: “Before all this ‘kidnapping’ we were walking with Sveta with a stroller, so that people would see us with a child. We were in ‘Kangaroo’ [ed: shop in Bryansk]. On March 8 she went to “Kangaroo”, bought wine, and I intentionally stood with a stroller under the camera to be seen walking with the baby.”
Criminologists think that the 19 year old Svetlana is psychologically dependent on her cohabitant who is considerably older than her. Alexander Kulagin is 31 years old. And possibly, in order to preserve these relationships the young woman committed the crime.
Unfortunately, such stories are not rarity. Only in 2011 in Russia 1761 children were killed by adults – many of them by hands of their parents…