It was a chance discovery of a cellphone on a street that led investigators in the southwestern Russian city of Krasnodar to arrest a husband and wife, dubbed by local media the “cannibal couple,” suspected in one of the worst killing sprees in the nation’s history. Local news reports say the couple may have killed and eaten dozens of victims since the 1990s.
Warning: This story contains disturbing content.
Construction workers stumbled upon the cellphone — a black Samsung — during road work on Sept. 11. They looked through the phone’s photos and chanced upon several gruesome images of a “man with different parts of a dismembered human body in his mouth,” the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs said in a statement Tuesday.
The crew contacted police, who, according to The Moscow Times, used the phone’s SIM card to track down its owner, 35-year-old Dmitry Baksheev.
Authorities found the remains of a woman near Baksheev’s home, located on the property of a military aviation academy, soon after the cellphone discovery, according to Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
Baksheev initially told police he didn’t kill the woman, but found her remains in a forest and took them home. He admitted snapping selfies with the body parts ― and later losing his phone, reported RT.
Later, however, Baksheev admitted to killing the woman and confessed that he and his wife, Natalia Baksheeva, had practiced cannibalism on many occasions since the late 1990s, according to Russian media. The couple may be responsible for as many as 30 murders, local news outlets reported.
Police confirmed that Baksheev and his wife were in custody and had been charged with at least one count of murder, per BBC.
The couple reportedly is undergoing psychological testing as the investigation continues.
Russian media outlets published video that appears to show police searching the couple’s home. Investigators found a video tutorial on cannibalism, pickled human remains in glass jars, and photos of severed human body parts ― including a 1999 picture that, according to BBC, “appeared to show a dismembered human head on a serving plate with fruit.”
The Investigative Committee of the Krasnodar Territory said in a Monday statement that “food fragments and frozen meat pieces of unknown origin” had been found in the couple’s kitchen. The committee said forensic testing was underway to determine if the meat was “human or animal.”
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.