The Doll Maker

Anatoly Moskvin parents thought he collected vintage dolls…but they didn’t give him enough credit, not only did their son collect them, but he was also their maker. He used only the finest and purest materials that he could find…the bodies of young mummified girls.

Anatoly’s parents didn’t think much of his hobby of making such big dolls, honestly they didn’t see anything wrong with it. But could you blame them? The last thing most parents would suspect is their precious spawn stuffing dolls with dead bodies like a hellish Build-A-Bear.

The well traveled scholar that he was, Moskvin loved history (even teaching it at a college level) and was proficient in speaking 13 languages. His travels largely revolved around his work as a journalist, which luckily for Moskvin killed 2 birds with one stone, since he was afforded a bit of sight seeing opportunities at various grave sites. Moskvin was a self-proclaimed expert on cemeteries, even going as far as dubbing himself as a Necropolyst. Moskvin roamed from cemetery to cemetery and from 2005 to 2007, Moskvin claimed to have visited approximately 752 cemeteries in Nizhny Novogorod. He took detailed notes on each one and delved into the histories of those buried there. The Hands-On-Historian claims to have walked up to 20 miles per day, sometimes sleeping on hay bales and drinking rainwater from puddles to help restore himself after a long journey. He even said he spent one night sleeping in a coffin ahead of a deceased person’s funeral.

Too bad Moskvin took his expertise to unhealthily new levels. In 2009, locals began to discover the graves of their loved ones desecrated, sometimes completely dug up. They originally thought it was being done by an extremist organization. So they beefed up their police units and set up groups composed of their most experienced detectives who specialized in extremist crimes. For nearly 2 years the ministry's leads went nowhere. For nearly 2 years the ministry's leads went nowhere. The break in the investigation came following a terrorist attack at Domodedovo airport in Moscow in 2011. Shortly afterward authorities heard reports of muslim graves being desecrated in Nizhny Novgorod. This was where Moskvin was finally caught. 8 cops went to his apartment after the apprehended him at the graves of the muslims to gather evidence. That they found there shocked them all.

The mummified bodies of twenty-six girls between the ages of three and fifteen were discovered in his apartment. Moskvin was also suspected of desecrating as many as 150 graves, due to the discovery of numerous metal nameplates found in at his home. Moskvin has stated that he felt great sympathy for the dead children and felt that they could be brought back to life by either science or black magic. He enclosed the remains in the dolls in an attempt to give them functional bodies to be used when he eventually discovered a way to bring them back to life, feeling that their physical remains were too decayed and ugly for them to feel comfortable or happy. Moskvin said that he was aware that he was committing a crime, but felt the dead children were "calling out" to him, begging to be rescued. He believed that rescuing the children was more important than obeying the law. He was also motivated by his own desire to have children, specifically a daughter. Moskvin often regretted that he never had children and at one point attempted to adopt a young girl against the wishes of his parents, but his application was declined due to his low income. Moskvin denied any sexual attraction to the dolls and instead considered them to be his children. He would talk to and interact with the corpses, sing songs to them, watch cartoons with them, and even hold birthday parties and celebrate holidays for their benefit.

He attributes his obsession with the macabre to a 1979 incident when the historian was 13. Moskvin divulged how a group of men in black suits stopped him on the way home from school. They were en route to the funeral of 11-year-old Natasha Petrova and dragged young Anatoly along to her coffin where they forced him to kiss the girl’s corpse. Moskvin wrote, I kissed her once, then again, then again.The girl’s grieving mother then put a wedding ring on Anatoly’s finger and a wedding ring on her dead daughter’s finger. My strange marriage with Natasha Petrova was useful, Moskvin said in the article. Strange, indeed. He said it led to a belief in magic and ultimately, a fascination with the dead. Whether the story is even true is beside the point by now, as his disturbing thoughts would go unchecked for more than 30 years.

Moskvin was diagnosed with schizophrenia and sentenced to time in a psychiatric ward following his sentencing. Though as of September 2018, he was faced with the opportunity to continue psychiatric treatment in his home.