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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Police Fear a Copycat Killer

Moscow police fear a copycat killer may be on the loose after finding the body of a woman murdered similarly to the victims of suspected serial killer Alexei Pichushkin.

The unidentified woman, aged about 30, was found in Lyublinsky Park in southern Moscow with her head mutilated by an ax and a stick pushed down her throat, the Tvoi Den newspaper reported Tuesday.

Pichushkin, 33, who is accused of 49 murders committed mostly in Bittsevsky Park in southwest Moscow, is to go on trial in the Moscow City Court on Sept. 13. The victims were found with sticks or empty bottles stuck in their head wounds, investigators say.

If convicted, Pichushkin would be the country's most prolific serial killer in more than a decade. Andrei Chikatilo was convicted in 1992 of murdering 52 women and children, dismembering victims and eating some of their remains. He was executed in 1994.

City Prosecutor Yury Syomin, who will lead the prosecution's case, has said Pichushkin "dreamed of surpassing Chikatilo and going down in history" and claimed to have killed 63 people. Prosecutors say Pichushkin committed his first murder in 1992 and started a killing spree in 2001 that ended with his arrest in June 2006.