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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Internet Friendship Ends in Murder

In a story of an online relationship turned tragic, city police have arrested a 19-year-old man charged with murdering a young woman in her apartment in western Moscow after meeting her through the Internet.

The body of the 18-year-old student was discovered Sept. 27 in her apartment on Ulitsa Lukinskaya, near the Yugo-Zapadnaya metro station, a police spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Police quickly identified the main suspect, an unemployed, Leningrad-region resident who lived intermittently in Moscow. Police were only able to apprehend him two weeks later, Dmitry Bik, first deputy head of the Novo-Peredelkino precinct, said in a statement.

The suspect had a "large circle of friends on the Internet" and police contacted him online, posing as a landlord looking for a tenant for a Moscow region apartment, Bik said. "The murder suspect was detained accepting the keys to the apartment," he added.

According to police, the suspect -- identified in the media as Mikhail -- met his victim, Yekaterina, online about two years ago, and the two met in person periodically.

Mikhail visited Yekaterina at her apartment on Sept. 27 and, after the two began quarrelling, the guest attacked his host and strangled her, the police spokeswoman said.

In an interview broadcast on Rossia television, Mikhail -- sporting a shaggy goatee and long dreadlocks -- said he couldn't recall whether he broke her neck or strangled her.

"It all happened so fast," he said.

Bik described the suspect as belonging to an "informal youth organization" called rastamany, or Rastas.

Almost the entire operation leading to the arrest of the suspect was conducted over the Internet, Bik told Rossia.

The suspect has been charged with murder and faces up to life in prison if convicted, the spokeswoman said. Police are also investigating his claim that he killed another woman in similar circumstances last year, she said.

This was not the first case of Internet-related violent crime in Moscow in recent years.

Last month, Alexander Ponamorenko, a Ukrainian citizen known for his prowess in the popular online role-playing game Lineage II, was sentenced to eight years in prison for beating to death Alexander Blyoskin, 22, who had tried to break up a real-life argument between Ponamorenko and his online nemesis.