6 children feared massacred after dismembered remains found in central Russia

© Alexandr Volozhanin
The dismembered bodies of six children were discovered in the Central Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod, in an apartment where the children, all under seven years old, once resided. The suspected murderer, children’s father Oleg Belov was detained by police on Tuesday.

"In the city of Kovrov in the Vladimir Region, the police officers have detained the suspect in the murder of his children and wife, committed in Nizhny Novgorod," Elena Alekseeva, Vladimir police spokesperson, told RIA-Novosti.

Belov resisted arrest, but none of the police officers were injured during the operation, she added.

Kindergarten workers went to the police after “the children stopped visiting preschool since July 25,” the Russian General Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement.

Nobody was answering the door in an apartment in the city’s Nizhegorodsky District and the police were forced to enter through the window.

Inside the flat they “found dismembered remains of children,” the statement said.

“Neighbors explained that the day before they had seen the father [of the children], who left in an unknown direction,” Prosecutor’s Office stressed.

According to the statement, the investigators are working on “locating the mother and father as well as establishing the number of children, who became the victims of the crime.”

A source in the Nizhny Novgorod police told Interfax that the murdered children were discovered at around noon on Tuesday.

“There weren’t even bodies, just remains. According to preliminary information, the children's mother was also killed. Witnesses claim the woman was pregnant,” the source said.

The neighbors described the parents as “very religious people, who forbid their kids from eating meat and fish,” it added.

The family had three boys aged six, three and two, and three girls aged seven, five and one, LifeNews website reported.

The remains found by the police were packed in six plastic bags, it added.

According to the website, the prime suspect in the investigation is the children’s father, 51-year-old Oleg Belov.

The suspect used to be a member of the Seventh-Day Adventist congregation in the Vladimir Region.

However, he was banished from the community for adultery and moved to Nizhny Novgorod, where he started a family.

LifeNews claims that it was the children’s grandmother who sounded the alarm over the disappearance of the kids.

She phoned the kindergarten and was told by staff that the father had come by and said that he was taking his family to a country house for a vacation.

But the grandmother replied that the family had never owned a country house, prompting the kindergarten staff to notify police.

Russian children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov tweeted that the family, in which the tragedy occurred, was known to social workers as “dysfunctional.”

“In 2011, social services filed a claim to deprive the father of his parental rights, but the mother begged them not to do it,” he wrote.

In recent months, the children’s mother ended up filing a lawsuit to deprive the father of parental rights, but she never arrived in court for hearings on July 8 and 27, Astakhov added.

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Later on Tuesday, Vladimir Region police discovered the body of an elderly female near a private home in the town of Gorokhvets where Belov used to live.

“The investigators are checking if the deceased is the mother of Oleg Belov,” Vladimir Markin, Russia’s Investigative Committee spokesman, stressed.

A source in the Vladimir police force told TASS that “it is really his mother, with multiple knife wounds.”

It was initially reported that the woman was beheaded, but the police said that the body was intact and had been buried in the ground.