Victor Mokhov

SKOPIN, RYAZAN OBLAST – RUSSIA.

2004

The nightmare that Alexander Komin concocted in Vyatskiye Polyany was reborn, continuing five years after his death. A new chapter of terror would begin, just over 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) to the southwest, in a town half the size. A man desperate to father children embarked on a copycat crime, in a country that had become blind to the plight of its fellow citizens.

Lead up to Crime

Victor Mokhov (Виктор Мохов), 50, lived in Skopin, in western Russia, located 248 kilometres (154 miles) southeast of Moscow. Mokhov was a thin, unassuming man, respected by his workmates, neighbours, and police. He held a position as a communist party member and army officer before the collapse of the Soviet Union. He was a college graduate, completing a degree as a “Mountain Master,” allowing him to work in the local mines. But, as the mines closed around Skopin, and workers moved away, Mokhov decided to remain behind and gained employment at an automotive factory.

Mokhov lived all his life with his mother, marrying in 1979, but the marriage lasted only three months. His mother described him as fearful of women, a man who was easily dumped in the relationship. His father had been jailed for rape. Watching a documentary about Alexander Komin, a fellow Russian who kept slaves in an underground prison, Mokhov was inspired to also take female slaves.

Mokhov constructed his own bunker under the garage at the rear of his mother’s overgrown property. He called it his harem. For approximately three years he worked throughout the night, excavating around 60 tons of soil. He sealed the two-and-a-half metre by three-metre (8 x 10 foot) cellar behind three doors.

A sheet metal door, held by magnets on the side of the rust coloured garage, concealed the entrance; a screwdriver was used to pry it open. The second door was on a platform a couple of feet down. The cellar had two rooms. A homemade ladder dropped to a small holding room. A small safe-like door, several inches thick and held by a large padlock, opened to the main chamber, which would be the living quarters of his victims.

He fitted the concrete walled room with bunk beds, a heater, a cooking element and a bucket for a toilet. An electric ventilator pumped oxygen into the dungeon.

In December 1999, Mokhov kidnapped a 16-year-old girl after getting her drunk. She fled the property after refusing his sexual advances. He followed her, hit her over the head, and dragged her into his cellar. The girl escaped two weeks later, but didn’t report the crime.

Mokhov had greater plans. He wanted to keep many women for up to 20 years, providing him with ten children each.

“I wanted to have lots of children, I wanted to improve the demographic situation in Russia,” said Mokhov.

Held Captive

On September 30, 2000, Katya Martynova, 14, and Lena Simakhina, 17, left an open-air disco in Ryazan, the administrative centre of Ryazan Oblast. They were celebrating Vyara, Nadezhda and Lyubov, an Eastern Orthodox Church festival for Sophia’s three daughters – Hope, Faith and Love. Lena and Katya were acquaintances and decided to attend the street party together.

Afterwards, while the girls waited for a bus, Mokhov pulled along side and offered them a ride. The girls accepted — offering lifts in Russia is a cultural practice, with drivers feeling obliged to help others if possible. A female accomplice, Yelena Badukina, assisted Mokhov. Mokhov had waited for Badukina while she served a prison sentence for murdering a lover, but his plans for their relationship dissolved when she was released and went with a lesbian lover instead. As compensation, Badukina agreed to help capture substitute females to fulfil Movhov’s desires. She travelled in the car with Mokhov to Ryazan.

Mokhov laced vodka with a sedative and offered it to the girls, who felt it would be rude not to drink it. It rendered the girls defenceless. He drove them to his home in Skopin, 126 kilometres (78 miles) south of Ryazan.

Mokhov first raped Katya on a bed in the main section of the garage that night. He locked her alone in the cellar while he raped Lena. Mokhov then asked Lena to fetch Katya from the cellar, when she went inside, he locked them both in. A regime of abuse was established over the following weeks.

The holding room walls were covered with pornographic pictures. Mokhov showed sexual positions from an instructional booklet, and then raped the girls individually in the tiny room. He kept notes about his views on sex. “Older animals (like dogs and cats) are rejuvenated by having sex with younger ones. That is true with humans, too.”

The girls endured daily rapes, forming part of their repetitive dungeon lives. He starved the girls and left them constantly fearing for their lives. Resisting Mokhov resulted in the electricity being cut off, leaving the girls in darkness, without heat or light. The oxygen pump would also be cut off.

The cellar contained a bunk bed, though the teens shared the lower mattress, holding each other for comfort. Religious symbols decorated the walls, along with cartoon characters (one painting of a wolf choking a rabbit), and posters of pop stars.

A month into their captivity, Lena and Katya attacked Mokhov in a bid to escape, attempting to strangle him with a heater cord. He was too strong for the pair.

Because of the harsh conditions, Katya’s puberty was suppressed, saving her from the torment Lena would endure. Lena gave birth to a boy, Vladik, on November 6, 2001. Mokhov provided the girls with a 1942 medical book to instruct them on birthing. He took the baby from the cellar. On June 6, 2003, Lena gave birth to a second boy, Oelg. At four months old he became ill and was removed from the cellar. Mokhov changed the baby’s clothes and found several concealed notes, before dumping the child on the doorstep of a local house.

Mokhov allowed certain elements of the outside world in, rewarding the girl’s obedient behaviour: pens, magazines, paper, books, paints, music, and a black and white television. Katya spent her time working on an extraordinary collection of detailed paintings.

Neighbours noticed Mokhov’s mother buying an unusual amount of food, too much just for her and Victor, but they didn’t question it. They had also seen Victor entering the hatch on the side of the garage, but believed he was storing potatoes for his mother.

Rescue

Police had given up looking for Lena Simakhina and Katya Martynova, believing they had been murdered. Victor Mokhov became more brazen, briefly allowing the girls to experience the outside world, taking them out into the garden in the spring of 2003.

Katya managed to gain Mokhov’s trust, and he involved her in a plan to enslave a medical student, Alena Pestova, who rented a room from him. As Katya posed as his niece, she slipped the student a note. A report was made to the police station situated less than a kilometre away.

Police arrived at Mokhov’s mother’s house on May 4, 2004. Victor attempted to run out the backdoor, but was captured by police.

Police videotaped the rescue. They called out to the girls, “We’re coming.”

Lena sat on the edge of the bunk, her hands folded, eight months pregnant. She called out, “Don’t film us.”

“Be quiet,” the police replied.

Katya emerged from the underground prison clutching a castle made from matchsticks. The girls could barely walk and rested against trees in the garden.

The pair had been held captive for three years, eight months, and four days.

Trial

On May 6, 2004, Victor Mokhov appeared in the Skopin City Court and he was ordered to return to his mother’s property and walk police and officials over the scene. He explained his crimes as his confessions were recorded on video.

Mokhov attempted to convince the court (and the girls) that he took good care of them, feeding them and bringing them gifts. Lena and Katya appeared in court, hiding behind their parents as Mokhov launched a tirade about all he had done for them.

Victor Mokhov was charged with the abduction of two or more persons, and with rape of a minor. He received a sentence of 17 years, to be served in a high-security Siberian labour camp.

“Nothing is enough for him,” said Lena.

For her role in the crime Yelena Badukina was sentenced to five-and-a-half years imprisonment. In May 2007, Badukina allegedly fell into a sewage pit while drunk, where she drowned.

Aftermath

The residents of Skopin descended upon the house, and broke all the windows, causing Mokhov’s mother to board the windows and barricade herself inside.

By the time they were rescued, Lena’s babies had been adopted, and she did not seek to find them. She couldn’t recognise the babies as hers, but as rather something placed inside her by Mokhov. The baby she carried when rescued was stillborn.

In 2008 Lena and Katya decided to return to the cellar in Skopin with a UK documentary crew for Channel 5. Both girls appeared apprehensive as they approached the garage.

“Oh, what a nightmare,” said Lena.

Scared of going inside, the girls feared what was down the homemade ladders. The holding room and cellar were as they were left four years ago when the girls were rescued, except decay had set in, repealing the past. The cellar seemed like a different place, smaller, and they had forgotten many things since their rescue. Instead of the negative emotions they were expecting, the girls found the experience cathartic.

“I’m really glad we did it. We both are,” said Lena.

Both women made remarkable recoveries, and are both married. They have rejected psychological help, instead choosing not to see themselves as victims. Lena studied to become a teacher and hopes to have four children. She celebrates May 4, the anniversary of their rescue, as her second birthday. Katya decided to forgo art school after not being able to afford the tuition. Publishers rejected a book of 321 poems written while she was held captive.

Dustin LaFortune

REGINA, SASKATCHEWAN – CANADA.

2010

Dustin LaFortune in happy times

Dustin LaFortune in happy times

Dustin LaFortune was a handsome young man, who set out from the Canadian city of Winnipeg to build a new life for himself. When his loved ones saw him next Dustin was almost unrecognisable, after having faced an ordeal that would leave him changed in every possible way. His hopes for the future would be torn asunder by a friend, who was also named Dustin.

 

 

 

 

Lead up to Crime

Dustin Paxton's mugshot

Dustin Paxton’s mugshot

Dustin Paxton, 30, had been on the police radar since his teens. His father placed him in the care of social services when he was 12, disowning him and his bad behaviour. He quickly became involved in drugs and alcohol, establishing a juvenile record. In 2007 he appeared on Canada’s Crime Stoppers Most Wanted list, and he had a criminal history of credit card fraud.

“He was in jail, in and out, in Winnipeg, in Regina, in Calgary — he was always in trouble,” Paxton’s aunt told a Canadian newspaper.

Dustin LaFortune grew up in Winnipeg as part of a large family, free from the influences of television, sugar, and violence. He had been in a four-year relationship with Lindsay Airhart, which resulted in one child. After they broke up the pair remained friends, living with each other for a further two years. Dustin LaFortune, a lumberyard foreman and weightlifter, decided to set out for a new life by travelling 1,300 kilometres (808 miles) from Winnipeg to Calgary. He joined up with acquaintance Dustin Paxton, who he had met three years earlier.

The two Dustins soon became roommates and worked together to establish their furniture moving business, Two Guys and a Truck. The business was registered to 4203 Centre Street Northwest, in Calgary, where a motley crew of friends also gathered regularly to drink, and smoke marijuana and crystal meth.

Paxton began abusing LaFortune in October 2008. The abuse started when LaFortune backed up a chair against an extension cord. Paxton reacted by hitting LaFortune in the head with a steel capped boot for 10-15 minutes. He apologised the next day. Neighbours noticed LaFortune’s face was swollen, resembling a grapefruit.

Abraham Chutta, 19, also worked for Paxton and shared the Centre Street house for a short period. Paxton’s abuse against Chutta started with arguing, which escalated to slapping, then punching, to being hit with a police baton and whipped with a dog leash. Abraham was dragged from his room, forced to sit on the couch with LaFortune, as Paxton beat the pair.

“He held a knife to me and said if I ever tried to leave he would kill my family,” said Chutta. He fled in 2009 but refused to press charges at the time.

During his stay in Calgary, LaFortune’s ex-girlfriend, Lindsay Airhart, visited him. She described how Paxton controlled LaFortune and allowed him to eat only one meal a day. She asked him to leave with her, but he refused.

In September 2009, LaFortune was admitted to hospital in Calgary suffering from broken ribs, allegedly caused by a freezer falling on him. Once released, LaFortune became impossible to find, his phone and emails went unanswered.

In February 2010 a seven-minute phone call was made to 911, reporting an assault taking place at the Centre Street premises. No police were dispatched after the 911 call-centre, operated by the City of Calgary, received the call. Other calls were made in January and April of 2010.

Dustin LaFortune’s family first reported him missing on February 28, 2010, but were told their missing persons report didn’t warrant an investigation. In early March, Airhart’s father received a phone call. “He sounded like death.”

Held Captive

In early 2010 the pair travelled to Regina, the capital city of the Saskatchewan Province in Canada’s mid-south — a city with a booming economy due to the oil industry, and surrounded by rich prairies that support agriculture.

Paxton and LaFortune moved into a three-storey brown brick apartment building named Elmwood Manor, at 2158 Halifax Street, Regina.

Neighbours didn’t see the pair, and weren’t even certain of who was living in the apartment rented in LaFortune’s name, but they did hear a great deal. A down stairs neighbour reported hearing low distressed groans each morning, which escalated into the sounds of one-sided fights. He would hear screaming, and a male yelling such things as, “Open your eyes,” followed by violent noises. When neighbours complained, Paxton threatened them with violence.

Over the course of 18-months, in Calgary and Regina, Paxton had victimised LaFortune, beating him daily, often with a whip or bamboo cane. LaFortune was held captive, choked unconscious, thrown through drywalls and down stairs, and suffered sustained sexual assaults. LaFortune was forced to perform sex acts on Paxton to avoid physical abuse. A section of flesh on LaFortune’s leg died from being repeatedly whipped.

Lindsay Airhart received a text message stating LaFortune was on a farm in Leduc, Alberta, and had no phone access. It was believed Paxton sent the text message, during the same period as he ensured LaFortune was incapable of leaving the Halifax Street address for over two months.

Dustin LaFortune failed to attend his cousins wedding, increasing the concern of his family. He appeared in public two days later, bearing little resemblance to the young man anyone once knew.

Release

A man claiming to be LaFortune’s cousin brought Dustin, now 26, to the Regina General Hospital on the morning of April 16, 2010. LaFortune’s injuries were extensive; he was not expected to live and was placed on life support. He was emaciated, weighing only 41 kilograms, down from 113 (90 pounds from 250). His body was covered in lacerations, burns, and bruises. His ribs were broken, along with his skull. His face had been beaten and mutilated beyond recognition, his bottom lip cut off, his tongue missing, and his eye orbits broken. LaFortune displayed obvious signs of an acquired brain injury.

Dustin LaFortune in Hospital

Dustin LaFortune in Hospital

It took a month before LaFortune could speak. The injuries were so severe that LaFortune had trouble remembering what had happened to him. As he recovered the horrific memories came flooding back. “I just remember everything now,” he said.

LaFortune stated that he didn’t leave earlier as he was afraid of being perceived as a “sissy,” because of intense fear, and because the brain injury he received from Paxton clouded his thinking.

“He was such a scary guy,” LaFortune said about Paxton. “And so manipulative.”

The hospital drop-off was caught on security camera. The manhunt was on for Dustin Paxton.

 

Trial

Paxton was arrested in Edmonton, Alberta, on August 22, 2010. Police launched a raid on the bungalow he was renting, sending in the tactical unit and the Fugitive Apprehension Sheriff Support Team.

He was charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one count of forcible confinement. Paxton was also charged with the unlawful confinement of an ex-girlfriend, dating back to 2001.

Regina police and the court went to great lengths to keep details of the case suppressed, although many details were already published on the internet.

Paxton’s trial began on September 27, 2010. He smirked in court as the charges were read against him. The trial was scheduled to last for five weeks, but lasted four months.

Paxton was found guilty of aggravated and sexual assault, but found not guilty of unlawful confinement. The court believed LaFortune could have escaped if he wanted. Justice Sheilah Martin read that the court understood “why Dustin LaFortune didn’t leave, but there is a difference . . . between domination and confinement.”

Paxton was also found guilty of uttering threats and assault with a weapon against Abraham Chutta.

Paxton was ordered to undergo further psychological evaluation, and undergo a “dangerous offender hearing” that could see him imprisoned indefinitely. The trial is due to commence on July 15, 2013, and should last four weeks.

Aftermath

Dustin LaFortune will require many more operations, including reconstructive surgery to his face, therapy for his acquired brain injury, and long-term psychological assistance.

“I still think the same about humans — that humans are capable of everything good. They’re also capable of everything bad, too. You’ve just got to be smart enough to figure out one from the other,” said LaFortune.

Because of his appearance Dustin waited before seeing his daughter, careful to make sure she was psychologically prepared to see him. The family engaged the help of social workers and trauma counsellors before the reunion. He continues rehabilitation under the care of his family and doctors in Victoria, Canada, at Victoria General Hospital. When returning home Dustin stated his aims included attending college and one day owning another business.

On February 1, 2012, the LaFortune family requested the media respect their privacy.

By David Phoebe

David Bisson

BRETIGNY-sur-Orge, PARIS – FRANCE.

1982

David Bisson, age 12, after his escape. He displayed stunted growth.

David Bisson, age 12, after his escape. He displayed stunted growth.

To the outside world, David Bisson didn’t exist, a boy the world almost forgot about entirely. Until his escape there was almost no evidence he had ever been born. When he was discovered after eight years of being locked away, he became known in the French press as “The Cupboard Boy.”

Lead up to Crime

Françoise Bisson was born into a large family. Her mother was a peasant woman, and her father a hopeless alcoholic who left early on. She always had a guarded personality, impenetrable, someone who never quite understood their place in the world and unprepared to let the world in. Her temper saw her fight constantly with her mother, and at age 14 Françoise left home to start a new life in Paris.

While working as a train stewardess on the sleeper cars, she met a singer and soon became pregnant. He would abandon her, leaving her with only six hundred francs and herself to rely on. She didn’t stop working while expecting. On May 29, 1970, she hopped off the train in the French town of Angers, went to the hospital and gave birth to David. She left him with a maternity nurse and went back to work.

David spent the first four years of his life in a series of foster homes, where he fondly remembers seaside trips and a kindly old woman. One day his mother came to collect him. She had since settled in with a new man — who David assumed was his father — and had given birth to a second son. David put up a fight as she tried to remove him from foster care. He had no previous memory of her, and felt an instant fearful sense of mistrust.

The reunited family lived in a small third-floor apartment in Neuilly-sur-Marne, France, all sleeping in the same room. During the first year Françoise stayed at home to look after her new baby, and during this time David’s beatings began. The beatings would often relate to food, as David had trouble swallowing. He also held a continual silence towards his mother, rarely speaking to her. Françoise’s hair-trigger temper saw him punished often, forced to kneel on a metal bar for hours with his nose against the wall. She hit him for no reason, removed his bed, and locked him in a bathroom for days on end.

David told a girl at a child-minder’s house about the abuse happening at home. He never saw the child-minder or her daughter again. At four-and-a-half-years-old his mother bound his hands and feet, and locked him in the dark bathroom.

Held Captive

David Bisson was chained to a pipe between the sink and the toilet. The shutters were closed, the door locked, and he lost all contact with the outside world. He experienced almost daily beatings at the hands of his mother, mad with a volatile rage, which his stepfather, Claude Bedside, ignored. He was fed leftovers and fruit. On weekends he would be untied as the family went away on holidays, leaving him behind.

His family continued to use the bathroom as usual, while David faced the wall, chained. He remained perfectly still as they went about their daily ablutions, Françoise and Claude even had sex in the bathroom on one occasion, pretending he wasn’t there.

David received cold baths and wore little clothing. His half-brother, Laurent, was showered in gifts, took hot bubble baths, and played with toys. Laurent went to school, had friends over to play and celebrated birthdays and Christmases with the family, all while David remained chained to the pipe.

Françoise constantly argued with Claude, but she saved the worst for David. With his hands and feet bound, she lowered him head first into the bath or the flushing toilet. She set his hair on fire, and plunged his hands into boiling water, causing third-degree burns that would leave his fingers webbed. She burnt him with cigarettes, and forced him to eat his own vomit when he couldn’t keep his food down. David hid apple seeds behind the toilet, pretending they were cars as he played with them on the side of the bath. When his mother found them she beat him with a stiletto until his skull was exposed.

A fire broke out in the building and it was evacuated. David was left chained inside the apartment as his family fled. Fire fighters put out the flames, but David was not discovered.

On a rare occasion when Claude had friends over, Françoise considered hiding David in the basement, but instead took him for a walk. It was a brief interval. He remembers laughing with her, and seeing cars and planes. That night the beatings resumed.

At age nine he was moved from the bathroom and chained to his parent’s bed. He was forced to remain kneeling at the end of their bed, to scared to sleep even while they did. They hid him under the mattress while they had sex above.

David made an escape in August 1980 by scaling down wall from the third floor. As he was climbing out the window he heard a key turn in the front door. He fell and crashed through a garage roof. He was spotted by neighbours and taken to the police. After a month in hospital he was returned home.

The family moved to Bretigny-sur-Orge in July 1981, transporting David in the car under blankets. He was locked in a dark cupboard and forgotten about. He spent up to four days without food at a time. While David was locked in the cupboard he would listen to children playing in the nearby playground. “I often thought of death, but I didn’t want to die.” He remained hidden there for a year, until one summer day Françoise forgot to lock the apartment door.

Escape

On August 19, 1982, David stepped out of the cupboard, and dressed himself in a jacket and large tennis shoes. He collected loose change, opened the door, and walked outside. He planned to go to his grandma’s house, not realising she lived two hundred kilometres (125 miles) away.

He wandered the streets, terrified at the sound of every car, thinking it might be his parents. He hid in a garden, curled up under some bushes.

“Is he dead? What’s going on?” a group of people wondered.

“Don’t send me back home . . .” said David.

After years of silence, David began to tell his story, about the bathroom, the cupboard, and the abuse at the hands of his mother. He was taken to the police station, then to the hospital. It was only because of the work of a young constable that the truth was discovered. David did not exist on public records. Neighbours did not know of his existence, even though they knew of his half-brother who also lived in the house. He was a boy everyone had forgotten about.

David appeared to have the body of a six year old, even though he was now 12. Soon the media arrived and David’s story awakened the attention of France. He received public donations of toys.

Laurent was on holiday when David escaped. Both boys were placed in homes by Social Services. His parents were arrested.

Trial

David was 15 when his parents went to trial in 1985. When   Françoise saw her son, she kissed him. Laurent pleaded with David to write a letter to the judge so the court would show leniency towards their parents. David obliged and their parents received a lighter sentence, but Laurent soon all but forgot he had a brother and abandoned David.

A year after his escape David saw Françoise in prison, she refused to see a psychiatrist, and at trial never admitted to her actions.

Françoise and Claude were jailed for seven years, and broke up while in prison. Françoise was released early towards the end of 1987.

Aftermath

David went to school, but remained self-conscious about his disfigured hands. He went through a rebellious phase and expressed bouts of violence. He stayed in homes until he was 20 and gained employment in restaurants.

David was always fond of his grandmother, but during an argument she yelled: “But you’re nothing but a bastard.” It was the same thing she thought of his mother, her own daughter. He didn’t see her after that.

When David felt comfortable he asked his mother about her past — their past. Keeping true to her usual closed-off nature, she move house without telling anyone, never answering his questions. David learned to forgive her. He married and had two children. He enjoys life’s little freedoms. In the past he has occasionally spoken to French media and advocates for other abused children.

The dark brings back memories of his time locked away, so he sleeps with the light on, and can’t stand to be locked away. Françoise Bisson has since died. David Bisson now shuns all media attention and dislikes travelling in public. He is considered disabled because of his experience, but enjoys his life of freedom.

David lives in Paris, a thin figure with deep blue eyes. His memoir is titled L’Enfant Derriere La Porte – The Boy Behind the Door. The book is now out of print, but can be found on seller sites for rare books.  The French edition is on Amazon.co.uk.

David Bisson memoir - The Boy Behind the Door.

David Bisson’s memoir – The Boy Behind the Door.

 

By David Phoebe

For further cases about people held captive, check out Captive Humans on Amazon.

Older posts «

» Newer posts