Friday, September 23, 2011

Katharina Popova, Husband-Killer for Hire – Ukraine, 1909

Note: The first name “Alexe” seems not to have appeared in any original period source. It seems to have first appeared in Eric W. Hickey, Serial Murderers and Their Victims. Fresno, CA: California State University Press, 1997.


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 2): St. Petersburg, March 27. – A woman named Popova has been arrested at Samara on a charge of murder and the atrocities say they have unearthed a series of crimes unequaled in the the history of the world. It is declared that the prisoner has killed at least 300 men.

The crimes cover a period of about 30 years. The motive in each case was mercenary and the murder was done for hire. The Popova woman made a specialty of killing husbands for wives who wished to be rid of their spouses. For a small fee she would put any undesirable man out of the way and would do it in such a manner that the wife would not be suspected.

Of course, the wives who hired the murderess to make them widows are equally guilty. Many of these women have died and others have gone to America and other countries and can’t be found. But the authorities expect to arrest numerous clients of Mme. Popova and put them on trial for their lives.

The woman has made a full confession. She says her own unhappy married life led her to conceive the idea of relieving other unfortunate wives of cruel husbands and she set out on her career of crime. She offered her services to any unfortunate wife, agreeing to kill the husband by poison and charging but a small fee.

[“Woman Murdered 300. – Crimes Extended Over Period of 30 Years Without Exciting Suspicion,” The Coffeyville Daily Journal (Ka.), Mar. 25, 1909, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 2): St. Petersburg, Russia. – Arrested after a full confession has been made by one of her conscience stricken employers, a woman who is believed to have killed more than three hundred men within the last thirty years is in prison at Samara. The only name given by the police of the wholesale murderess is Popova.

All the murdered men were husbands who wanted to get rid of them. The woman charged a nominal sum prior to the murder and the remainder after the victim was killed. She would make the acquaintance of the man she was to kill and then manage to put poison in his food or drink.

After one woman whose husband had been murdered became stricken by her guilty conscience she sent for the police, made a full confession, and a squad of policemen were at once sent to the home of the Popova woman. In some way the charge against the prisoner became known, and before the police started from her home for the prison they were surrounded by a mob of several hundred persons.

Infuriated at the atrociousness of the woman’s deeds, the mob demanded that the prisoner be turned over to them and that they might burn her at the stake.

With drawn revolvers the police held the mob at bay until soldiers, who had been sent for, arrived and drove the child back. Then the woman was taken to the jail.

After she had been taken to the prison the woman made no effort to conceal the fact that she had been a wholesale murderess. She declared that she was justified in her work, for the only persons she killed were men who had abused their wives and that her murdering them had saved the women further misery.

[“Woman Kills 300 At Wives’ Behest - Charged Small Fee for Administering Poison to Undesirable Russian Husbands. - Justifies Her Killings - Declares She Never Killed a Woman - Mob Seeks to Burn Her at the Stake, but Is Prevented. - Woman, Who Has Confessed, in Jail.” The Stanstead Journal (Rock Island, Quebec, Canada), Jun. 24, 1909, p. 4]


FULL TEXT (translated from German): A huge trial will soon come before the Russian courts for discharge. The prehistory of this process is the following: In the southern Russian town of Samara lived for decades a certain Katharina Popova, who was known for her wealth. It was said that she had acquired her riches by inheritance buying and in dealing in salutary herbs. For some time, however, the authorities have been receiving anonymous letters, all from the same hand, which accused Popova of killing dozens of men over the years. However, this charge seemed so unlikely to the authorities that it was no use saying anything.

When the anonymous spokeswoman realized that nothing was being done about her denunciations, she went to the police, on her own accord and pleaded guilty to having poisoned her husband with the help of Popova. Investigation was made and  Ms. Popova was detained. In court, she admitted without promting that she had poisoned over 40 men over three decades. She stated, however, that she had done these acts in justified charity.

She had only acted against men who treated their wives like slaves. Therefore, she was not guilty of murder since she did not cause any pain to the poisoned person.

She had given powders to the wives, who had complained to her under consideration of the circumstances, by which the man would die a slow and "natural" death, without noticing the effect of the poison.

For the most part, she has admitted to the poisoning using a metallic dust, that is her secret.

These sharp metal particles placed in a meal would have lodged somewhere in the intestine, causing inflammations that would have led to death.

There were no antidotes or the like to her method, she boasted of having fatally delivered every unworthy member of the male sex to the afterlife

The excitement in Samara is unimaginable.

Many widows have already fled, and it is believed that a large proportion of the widowed wives Samara have been customers of Popova.

The police have made extensive arrangements so that the full on the criminal does not practice lynching.

[“Prolific Manhating Murderess.” (Aus Männerhass vielsache Mörderin.), Die Neue Zeitung (Vienna, Austria), April 3, 1909, p. 1]


FULL TEXT: Ein Riesenprozess wirb denmächst vor den russichen Gerichten zum Austrag kommen. Die Vorgeschichte dieses Processes ist solgende: In dem füdrussischen Städtchen Samara lebte seit Jahrzehnten eine gewisse Katharina Popowa, die im Ansehen von Reichtum stand. Es hiess, sie habe diesen Reichtum durch Berkauf heilsamer Kräuter, aber auch durch eine Erbschaft erworden. Seit einige Zeit liesen jedoch bei der Behöre anonyme Briefe ein, die sämlich von derselben Hand herrührten, und die die Popowa beschuldigten, sie habe in Laufe der Jahre Dutzende von Männern umgebracht. Diese Anklage schien der Behörde jedoch so unwahrscheinlich, dass man berselben keine Bedeutungzumass.

Als die anonyme Briesscrieberin merkte, dass man aus ihre Denunzitionen nichts gebe, ging sie, von Reue getrieben, selbst zur Polizei und bekannte sich des Verbrechens schuldig, mit Hilfe der Popova ihren Mann vergiftet zu haben. Die Recherchenergaben die Wahrheit der Selbtstbezichtigung und Frau Popowa wurde verhaftet. Vor Gericht gab sie ohne weiteres zu, dass sie im Laufe dreier Jahrzehnte über 40 Männer vergiftet habe. Sie erklärte jedoch, dass sie diese Taten in berechtigter Nächstenliebe getan habe.

Sie habe nur gegen Männer gearbeitet, die ihre Frauen wie Sklaven behandelt hätten. Sie habe sich deshalb auch nicht des Mordes schuldig gemacht, schon deswegen nicht, weil sie den zu Vergiftenden keinerlei Schmerzen verursacht habe.

Sie habe sie den zu vielmehr den Ehefrauen, die ihr unter Klarlegung der Verhältnisse ihr Lieb geklagt hätten, Pulver gegeben durch die der Mann eines langsom und ganz “natürlichen” Todes gestorben sei, ohne dass er die Wirkung des Giftes gemerkt habe.

Meistens habe sie zu den Vergiftungen den den seinem Staud von gewissen Metallen, die ihr Geheimnis seien, abgegeben.

Die seinem und spitzen Metalteilchen hätten sich, in die Mahlzeit geschüyyet, irgendwo im Darm festgeitzt und Enzündungen hervorgerusen, die stets mit dem Tode geendet hätten.

Gegengifte oder dergleichen habe es bei ihrer Methode nicht gegeben, sie rühmte sich, jeden Unwürdigen aus dem Geschlechte der Männer “totlicher” ins Jenseits besördert zu haben.
Die Ausregung in Samara es erdenklich.

Viele Witwen sind bereits geflohen, und es besieht die Meinung, dass ein grosser Teil der verwitweten Frauen Samaras Kunden der Popowa gewesen sind.

Die Polizei hat umsangreiche Vorkehrungen getrossen, damit das Voll an der Verbrecherin keine Lynchjustis übe.

[Aus Männerhass vielsache Mörderin. Die Neue Zeitung (Vienna, Austria), April 3, 1909, p. 1]


Katharine Popova: Кэтрин Попова (Russian); Катарін Попова (Ukranian)
Samara: (Russian)









For more than two dozen similar cases, dating from 1658 to 2011, see the summary list with links see: The Husband-Killing Syndicates

[4960-12/28/20; 5334-11/15/21]


  1. she killed pretty evil men tho

    1. If you can provide any evidence of this claim please do so. Assertions by murderers that their victims were evil (or that another party verbally called the victim evil) does not in any way constitute evidence. Male serial killers will often claim their female victims were evil. Yet, the "believe him" superstition has, fortunately, not caught on yet. Logic and reason matter (not just "feelings").

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