Monday 15 June 2015

Russian teenager who confessed to murdering and dismembering her mother and sister, claiming they were “witches”, released in Tijuana, Mexico

WARNING: This post contains graphic language.

According to Mexican authorities, 19-year-old Anastasia Lechtchenko Masney has confessed to murdering and dismembering her mother, Yuliya Masney Safonchik, aged 45, as well as her little sister, Valeria Lechtchenko, 12.
The poster seeking Ms. Lechtchenko Masney
earlier this year

Why Ms. Lechtchenko (who in Mexico is also known as Lechtchenko Gubarev) has since been released, and why the court has not issued an arrest warrant for her, is uncertain.

On Wednesday, June 10, Mexican authorities found the two dismembered bodies wrapped in plastic bags in a rented apartment on Paseo Ensenada in the Playas de Tijuana neighborhood, where the family had lived for five years. Police were called after neighbors complained of a foul smell. The two had last been seen on Sunday, June 7.

Two days later, on Friday the 12th, police detained Ms. Lechtchenko. She confessed to the murders during the preliminary investigation, saying that her mother and sister were “dangerous witches”. Aside from the confession, police were led to believe that Ms. Lechtchenko was implicated, as she did not report her mother or sister missing, as well as the fact that the apartment showed no damage or sign of forced entry. Her father was interviewed, as were crime-scene experts.

Police also stated that the suspect complained that her mother was paying too much attention to her younger sister, who was born paraplegic and attended a school for children with special needs. Anastasia Lechtchenko stated on the record that she had visited various web sites leading up to the deaths, searching for “how to kill a witch,” which informed her that it was critical to dismember the bodies, and that a kitchen knife would be ideal.

Ms. Lechtchenko allegedly told detectives from Tijuana’s intentional homicide unit that she removed her sister’s eyes with a spoon because a voice had told her to. Her sister, she claimed, was a “puppet” of her mother. She also removed her mother’s heart to stop her from “bewitching” her. Both victims were beheaded.

The father of the family, originally from Russia, is Igor Lechtchenko, a renowned trainer of gymnasts at the Autonomous University of Baja California in Tijuana. The parents were divorced.

According to the Mexican press, and also to Yulia Masney Safonchik’s Facebook account, Anastasia Lechtchenko had a history of drug use and psychological problems, often going missing for extended periods of time.

In February of this year Lechtchenko’s parents organized a large scale search for their daughter, including billboards, until she finally appeared in Culiacan, Sinaloa, where she was living with friends. At that time her disappearance had caused serious anxiety within Tijuana, as many thought she had been kidnapped or killed.

Mexican criminal investigations are notorious for sloppiness, incompetence, brutality, and corruption. There has been no comment from Tijuana’s Fifth Penal Court (Juzgado Quinto de lo Penal), which has jurisdiction, to suggest that Ms. Lechtchenko was released due to lack of evidence, or a denial of her human rights (i.e. having a confession beaten out of her). It is unlikely also that she, or someone she knew, bribed her way out – though that remains a possibility.

The most likely answer is incompetence. In an online survey in Mexico’s El Debate, readers responded to the question, “Do you believe this case be resolved?” Out of 695 votes, 82.2% said ‘No’, and only 17.8% ‘Yes’. 

TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.

UPDATE: Ms. Lechtchenko  has been arrested. See:

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