A Russian killer who was part of a notorious cannibal couple has died in jail, leaving a mystery over "dozens" of alleged victims.
Initial reports of the case said Dmitry Baksheev, 38, and wife Natalia, 44, from Krasnodar, were suspected of killing and eating as many as 30 people.
Amid cover-up claims by legal experts and the media they were convicted of just one, the 2017 killing and butchering of 35-year-old waitress Elena Vashrusheva whose sliced body parts were found in their fridge, and in a frying pan on their cooker.
Baksheev (nicknamed the "Devil") sentenced to 12 years in a strict regime penal colony, has died in jail after losing an appeal into his conviction for murder and cannibalism.
The cause of death was not disclosed.
His lawyer released a jail drawing by the killer of Brit actress Audrey Hepburn, but he died without throwing new light on his or his wife's macabre activities.
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His spouse Natalia Baksheeva is serving an 11 year sentence after her earlier conviction.
Initial media reports citing law enforcement sources claimed the couple between them had some 30 victims spanning 18 years, and also kept meat from dead dogs and cats.
They lured victims from dating websites, and sold "meat" at the military academy where they lived, it was alleged.
The wife was convicted of provoking her husband to murder the waitress who allegedly "flirted" with him during a drinking session.
She testified that her husband "put the body parts in the bathroom, cut the skin off the skull, severed the ears and lips with his teeth, and ate them".
He also posed for pictures with body parts.
During the investigation a sinister picture was released by law enforcement from the couple's collection apparently depicting the severed head of a man in 1999.
The authorities later claimed there was no evidence beyond the stabbing and dismembering of the waitress.
But criminal lawyer Dr Yulia Fedotova claimed the murder and slicing up of the waitress's body was carried out by a skilled "butcher" who had previous experience.
If Baksheev was a novice killer – as law enforcement claimed – she asked how he knew how to expertly cut off the head and gouge out the heart while dismembering other body parts.
If the couple were not cannibals, why were the woman's body parts expertly preserved in the couple's fridge and freezer, she asked.
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"How could Baksheev – who was never convicted before and who not a butcher or surgeon – manage to do all this alone and just within several hours?"
She also highlighted that police had shown the couple "dozens" of pictures of missing people suspected of being linked to the case.
Several sources suggested the authorities did not want to allow a scandal at the prestigious military academy where the couple lived.
Investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta also queries a strong of inconsistencies in the case.
But investigators insisted that the couple only met in 2012 so could not have jointly engaged in cannibal acts before this. They questioned the authenticity of the 1999 picture.
Baksheev's lawyer Yulia Fedotova – who was also in a revealing picture by her client – confirmed his death and said: "It is not known what exactly happened."
She and colleague Alexey Avanesyan were travelling to his jail in Rostov region to find out how he died, she said.
He had always protested his innocence.
He had earlier suffered from tuberculosis.
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