A PENSIONER who gave kids sweets made from the flesh of her victims has died of Covid-19 before the end of her trial.
Sofia Zhukova, also known as then "Granny Ripper", was accused of slaughtering three people, including a seven-year-old girl, in a series of brutal murders that spanned a decade and a half.
The retired pig slaughterer was charged with the murder of schoolgirl Anastasia Alexeenko whose severed head was found in 2005.
The 81-year-old was also charged with murdering and dismembering a 52-year-old male janitor and her 77-year-old friend.
Zhukova became infected with Covid-19 while she was in jail during her trial and was moved to a local hospital for treatment.
However on December 29, the 81-year-old passed away from the virus.
According to reports, before her death police had been investigating whether four unsolved murders could be linked to her.
During the "Granny Ripper's" trial, videos showed Zhukova wielding an axe as she demonstrated to detectives how she killed her male victim.
Internal organs of the janitor, Vasily Shlyakhtich, a Ukrainian immigrant who was her tenant, were allegedly discovered in the granny’s fridge in 2019, but she denied being a cannibal.
She said in evidence: “I killed the janitor, but he raped me. What do you think I should have done….? I chopped him up with an axe."
Days after his murder children found his severed arm in a rubbish skip and police found his other remains in a plastic bag.
A law enforcement source said: “The bowels and other inner organs of the man were found in her fridge – and she threw away the bones.
“But dogs smelled the blood and carried the body parts all around the area.”
In another hearing the court was told how she kidnapped the schoolgirl and held her for three weeks.
'FRESH MEAT THROWN TO DOGS'
The child was murdered the day before her severed head was found near Zhukova’s flat, it was alleged.
The seven-year-old is said to have been butchered after she cheekily threw ice cream at the pensioner when she told her to be quiet.
At the time “fresh meat” was seen strewn near Zhukova’s apartment block, which was then eaten by stray dogs, a court heard.
A phone call assuring Anastasia’s mother, Natalya, that the girl was still alive had been made from the sausage factory where the pensioner worked as a pig slaughter, the court was told.
The girl’s DNA was found in Zhukova’s bathroom 14 years after the alleged killing, said forensic experts.
Neighbours had previously claimed that the 81-year-old even turned the flesh of some of her victims into treats which she handed out to neighbourhood kids in the village of Berezovka.
One local identified only by her first name Tatyana said: "We always found it strange that despite being surly and unfriendly, she would often find the time to cook things for the local children.
“They were always meat dishes. Sometimes she gave them to the adults, she bought me and my husband plates with jellied meat."
She added: "I remember it well because my husband said let's not eat it, you never know what it was made from, and now it looks like he was right."
Tatyana said police told her the "serial killer" used the flesh of her victims to make the treats, but cops have not confirmed this.
The claims have drawn comparisons to Sweeney Todd, a British Victorian tale about a killer barber who sells people pies made with human flesh.
Zhukova's trial had been delayed last year after she retracted detailed confessions about killing the girl and elderly woman, whose body was never found.
The judge ordered technical changes in the indictments but she remained accused of the three murders when she died.
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