DURING the Soviet era, it was considered standard policy for the government to deny that serial killers were active in Russia. Serial killers, officials said, were a Western phenomenon. Despite these denials, serial killers preyed on Russians throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
Although the most notable example is Andrei Chikatilo, a vicious killer who committed over 50 murders, there were others causing terror in Soviet Russia. Nikolai Dzhumagaliev was one of those. Dzhumagaliev earned the eerie nickname ‘Metal Fang’ because of his metal teeth -- and his propensity for eating his victims.
Dzhumagaliev was born in 1952 in Kazakhstan to a poor family. He wanted to attend a university after serving in the Soviet Army, but his hopes were dashed when he was denied entrance. When Dzhumagaliev was still young, he lost his teeth and had to be fitted with dentures. Unlike most dentures, which are made from plastic or acrylic, Dzhumagaliev’s new false teeth were made from metal.
“She resisted, and then I cut her throat with a knife. Then I drank her blood.”
When the man who would become known as Metal Fang was 20 years old, he set out to explore the Soviet Union. Dzhumagaliev lived an itinerant life, traveling from one place to the next while working various odd jobs. During his travels, the young man contracted syphilis and trichomoniasis.
At the age of 25, Dzhumagaliev returned to his native Kazakhstan with an intense hatred of women. It was back in his hometown of Uzynagash that Dzhumagaliev became a killer.
He began his deadly rampage in 1979, when he noticed a young woman walking along a rural path and decided to attack. The killer later described the murder in chilling detail:
“She was alone. I felt my heart pound within me and I ran after her. Hearing my footsteps, she turned around, but I caught up with her and put my arm around her neck, dragged her to the side of the landfill. She resisted, and then I cut her throat with a knife. Then I drank her blood.”
Dzhumagaliev dismembered his victim and took the body parts back to his house, where he ate her remains over a period of a month. The beast was now unleashed within Dzhumagaliev. Through the first half of 1979, he killed, dismembered, and cannibalized six more people. His spree likely would have continued, but in August 1979, Dzhumagaliev was arrested for drunkenly shooting a friend and sent to prison for a year. While in prison, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Dzhumagaliev killed three more people before he was finally caught. On December 18, 1980, Dzhumagaliev invited local drunks over for dinner at his house. One of them wandered away, only to discover the head and entrails of a woman. Upon discovering the appalling scene, the guests fled the house and called the police -- who were so shocked at what they found in the house that Dzhumagaliev was able to escape. Naked and carrying only a hatchet, he ran to hide in the nearby mountains.
The next day, he was found and arrested. Dzhumagaliev stood trial for murder, but due to his previous diagnosis of schizophrenia, he was deemed insane by the court and sent to a mental institution. Because of his exploits (and his teeth), the Russian press nicknamed him Metal Fang.
Nikolai “Metal Fang” Dzhumagaliev’s story seemed to be over ... until 1989. That year, the killer escaped while being transferred between facilities. He remained at large for two years, before being recaptured in 1991. Authorities believe Dzhumagaliev killed again during his time on the outside.
It is rumored that he escaped yet again in December 2015, but Russian authorities refuse to confirm the reports. Is Metal Fang free and roaming the streets of Kazakhstan? Or is he in a padded cell, cut off from the rest of the world? We’ll have to wait and see how this story continues -- or ends.