Mystery Surrounds Why They Were Killed

This was one murder that had captured the attention of the nation. It has left everyone still asking the same question – who killed Russian couple Yuri Anatolyevich  Shipulin and
31 Dec 2016 11:00
Mystery Surrounds Why They Were Killed
Murdered Russian couple, Yuri Anatolyevich Shipulin (left) and Nataliya Gerasimova.

This was one murder that had captured the attention of the nation. It has left everyone still asking the same question – who killed Russian couple Yuri Anatolyevich  Shipulin and Nataliya Gerasimova and had their bodies decapitated?

Who was the tall figure that walked past a group of security men about 3am on the morning of June 17 in what could have been a diving suit?

Could he have just returned from dumping the body parts out in the bay at Natadola or had he just been taking a casual walk?

Theories have come up on what happened on that fateful day and night of June 16, 2016 when the couple was last seen leaving their farm, in the hills of Kachiqari, off the road leading to Nausori Highlands in Nadi.

The last official word from the Fiji Police Force on the case was that the file into the murder had been handed to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

No information could be obtained on the contents of the file or the Police investigations into the case.

The couple was well known amongst a circle of friends in Nadi and had been seen mostly on Denarau Island, the place they were believed to have been spotted last.

Their farm was on which would seem unsuitable for vegetable farming and here was also home to their farmhand, Russian national Andrew Luzanenko.

Mr Luzanenko was the first to report the couple missing, just before midday on June 17, the day after Shipulin and Gerasimova last left the farm.

The soil was red and the remaining vegetable plants looked to be withering away under the scorching western heat.

I met up with Mr Luzanenko at the farm on the morning of June 18 following a Police report of the missing couple.

Mr Luzanenko, who hails from Krasnodar City, in Russia, had told this newspaper that he had come to work on the farm after responding to an advertisement for a farmhand needed on the farm.

He described the couple as being in terrible financial stress following the devastation Tropical Cyclone Winston had left the farm in.

Mr Luzanenko showed the Fiji Sun the amount of empty liquor bottles on the veranda, the untidy state of the house and said he did not know where they had gone to.

However, some of the couple’s friends disputed Mr Luzanenko’s reference to the couple drinking heavily before their disappearance.

Following the report of their disappearance, and that the couple were spotted at Denarau the same afternoon of June 16, a search was activated by Police and the couple’s vehicle, registration ‘PILOT’, was spotted at Natadola Beach.

Police found Ms Gerasimova’s passport and clothes in the vehicle which was left unlocked in a secluded area at the beach.

Unconfirmed reports followed that the couple may have abandoned their vehicle and fled in a waiting yacht, away from the financial strife which Mr Luzanenko said had troubled them in the days before their disappearance.

INTERPOL was involved in the search, but no reports of sightings were received.

While efforts were being done to unravel the mysterious disappearance, the beginning of a heinous crime began to unfold after several body parts were discovered.

On June 24, the first pair of feet was found at Natadola Beach by security officers and was confirmed by DNA data to be that of Mr Shipulin.

Two days later, the second pair found belonged to Ms Gerasimova.

A decapitated head, later confirmed through DNA as that of Mr Shipulin, was found close to the beach on August 3 by a New Zealand couple.

On September 23, a Police dive team discovered what was believed to be a body part of Ms Gerasimova.

The body part was severed from below the navel and just above both knees.

The dive team recovered the wrapping which contained the body part at a section of the reef, not far from where it was spotted the night before.

A villager, while night diving for fish had came across the wrapping stuck at the bottom of the reef.

The distinct feature that stood out with all three finds were that they had similar wrappings in green netting, stones to weigh down the parts and similar blue coloured fishing line that held the wrapping together.

Till today, no other body parts were known to have been found.


Who were Yuri Shipulin and Nataliya Gerasimova?

Mr Shipulin and Ms Gerasimova were lovers at school and soul mates, Russian State-owned television station reported.

The background story about the couple was aired in a programme called Russian -24 Special Report.

Excerpts of the report were sent to the Fiji Sun, which has been inundated with queries about the couple’s murder from media outlets in Russia.

The television report said Mr Shipulin was born in the south of Russia.

The programme producer Gala Druzhinia in a brief stated that Mr Shipulin met Ms Gerasimova during their school days. They were in the same class.

The couple fell in love with each other and soon they moved to Ryazan City, a small city located in Central Russia.

It is a major scientific, military and industrial centre of the country. The city’s population is more than 534,000.

The report said the couple had a flourishing business but it did not mention their line of business.

Five years ago they left Ryazan and headed to Fiji.

He was described through correspondence from a Russian crime writer as also being a former pilot for the Russian air force and a businessman.

Below, following the discovery of the body parts, I managed to correspond with crime writer Alex Markman, who lives in Russia and is a close observer of Russian mob crimes.

What he describes may not necessarily be correct, but was what he thought may have taken place.

Mr Markman, in his theory of the mystery and having knowledge of Russian mob killings described to the Fiji Sun that the murder of the couple could have been revenge and was typical of Russian criminal businessmen.

Mr Markman said his concept was correct as he dealt with Russians and know of many similar cases.

Mr Markman said he did not know anything about this couple.

“In Russia the rumours are that it was a ritual murder by a local sect,” he said.

“If my scenario is correct, there might be some high profile criminals involved.

“You never know, and therefore it would be difficult to dig deeper.

“I’m a crime writer, not an investigator, but I know quite a bit about the mentality of the Russian mob.

“It just comes from being in this country for a long time, and my interest in legal matters and investigative work.”

Mr Markman believes Mr Luzanenko and Russian expatriates living in Fiji had nothing to do with this murder.

“Otherwise the couple would have been killed at the farm,” he said.

He said neither was there a connection with the couple’s business in Fiji.

Mr Markman believes the cause could have been Mr Shipulin’s business deals in Russia.

Through his experience of how such murders took place in Russia, Mr Markman believes if the couple could have been murdered by contract killers who had flown into the country and stayed at a nearby resort and invited the couple there for a business discussion.

“Renting a car and driving it to the farm would complicate the matter and leave some traces,” he said.

“Perhaps the couple was drowned first.

“This would ensure no blood during dismemberment. Perhaps a knife was used.”

Mr Markman said even if the passenger list was examined and the killers identified as major suspects, there was no material evidence against them.

As a result, it was highly unlikely that the killers, if identified would be punished.

Mr Markman said if the couple had owed a lot of money to their former business partners in Russia, they probably went to Fiji in hope that they would never be found or reached.

“Top criminals are connected with the Russian security and finding someone is not that hard,” he said.

This chilling theory could remain a theory. Or could it be true?

Edited by Rusiate Mataika


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