Childhood & Early Life
He was born on July 25, 1959, in the village of Lasky in Zhytomyr Oblast, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union to Yuri Onoprienko as the younger of two sons. His father was decorated for bravery during the Second World War. He was thirteen years younger than his brother Valentin.
He was just four years old when he lost his mother following which he was taken care of by his grandparents and aunt for a brief period. He was then sent to an orphanage in the village of Privitnoe. Onoprienko harboured the grievance that although his elder brother was taken care of his father, the latter sent him away. Later in an interview this brutal serial killer alleged that such step ordained his fate in this manner. He also commented that among those who grow up in orphanages seventy percent end up in prison as adults.
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Murders Confessed by Onoprienko
He confessed that while conducting a robbery in 1989, he and his accomplice Sergei Rogozin murdered ten members of a family including eight children after facing the intruder. The two used the weapons they were carrying for self-defence for committing the murders. Onoprienko mentioned that he later severed all ties with Rogozin, a gym patron who remained his accomplice in robbing many other houses.
In 1989 an eleven year old boy and four others fell his victims while he was carrying out his plan to burglarize a car. The victims were first shot to death while they were sleeping in the car and then their bodies were set on fire. Onoprienko however mentioned that originally he didn’t intend to kill the five people and his plan was only to burgle the car.
He murdered four members of the Zaichenko family in their Garmarnia village home in central Ukraine on December 24, 1995 while robbing the house. He first murdered them with a sawed-off, double-barreled shotgun and later set the house on fire.
Four members of a family were shot to death on January 2, 1996, in addition to a male pedestrian. Onoprienko murdered the latter so as to wipe out the chance of keeping any potential witness alive, who may pose problem for him later. He followed such stance all through eliminating any witness who unfortunately crossed his way during his murderous rampages.
He allegedly murdered four persons on January 6, 1996 on the Berdyansk-Dnieprovs'k highway in three different incidents. He first stopped the cars and then murdered the drivers. Among the victims were a Navy ensign, Kasai; a kolkhoz cook, Kochergina; a taxi driver Savitsky; and another person who could not be identified.
The next seven victims were five members of the Pilat family who were shot to death at their home and two likely witnesses Kondzela, a 27 years old railroad worker and Zakharko, a 56 years old pedestrian. The homicide was conducted on January 17, 1996 following which the Pilat’s house was set ablaze.
His next homicide was committed in the Fastiv, Kyivs'ka Oblast area of Ukraine on January 30, 1996. The victims who were shot to death included Marusina and her two sons, and a visitor called Zagranichniy aged 32 years.
The next four victims of Onoprienko were four members of the Dubchak family. The murders were conducted at Dubchak’s Olevsk, Zhytomyrs'ka Oblast home on February 19, 1996. Onoprienko said that while the father and son were shot to death, the mother died after he mauled her up with a hammer. He then asked the daughter to hand over money and as she refused, he also mauled her to death.
The house of the Bodnarchuk family in Malina, Lvivs'ka Oblast was his next target. On February 27, 1996, he trespassed the house and shot and killed the parents while used an axe to chop off the two daughters to death aged eight and seven. Businessman Tsalk, a neighbour of the Bodnarchuk’s who at that time was strolling around their property was also shot to death by Onoprienko. Body of Tsalk was later hacked with the axe.
The last alleged victims of Onoprienko were the four members of the Novosad family who were shot to death by the serial killer on March 22, 1996 before setting ablaze their home to erase all traces of evidence.
Modus operandi of this ferocious killer had a set pattern. He would first select a house in an isolated area and then create an upheaval to attract attention of its occupants before going on his killing spree. He would start his homicidal rampage with the adult male of the house followed by the spouse and lastly the children. Usually he would set the houses on fire to destroy any clue that may lead him to trouble in future.
Arrest, Conviction & Death
Specialists of the Public Prosecutor's Office as also the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) held Yury Mozola in March 1996 doubting him of committing several heinous murders. Although he was tortured by six SBU members and one Public Prosecutor's Office representative for three days including beating, burning and giving electric shocks to him, the 26 years old Mozola refused of committing the murders before succumbing to such torture. The seven who tortured him leading to his death were given prison terms.
A massive manhunt was conducted following which the real culprit Onoprienko was apprehended on April 16, 1996. After arresting him, police discovered 122 items in his possession. These included several weapons that matched with the ones used in many of the murders encompassing a sawed-off TOZ-34 shotgun as also many of the stuffs of the victims that were removed.
Prior to his arrest, Onoprienko worked as a sailor and also attended university to study forestry.
During his initial tenure in custody he confessed of killing only eight people between 1989 and 1995 and refused other charges levied on him. Eventually he confessed of murdering 52 people starting from 1989. He claimed that he followed commands of inner voices in killing the people.
His trial took place in late 1998 and while in courtroom being confined in a steel cage he admitted of killing 52 people. He was given death penalty in April 1999 which was however commuted to life imprisonment in August that year as Ukraine had joined the Council of Europe in 1995 and therefore during that time it undertook to do away with the death penalty.
On August 27, 2013, he succumbed to heart failure in the prison of Zhytomyr when he was 54 years old.