WARNING - this isn't for the faint-hearted.
Metal Fang murdered them and feasted on their flesh – why?
The year was 1219. And the people of Almaty, Kazakhstan, were in fear. Genghis Khan was coming to conquer them.
They were right to be scared. Because although Genghis Khan had built one of the biggest empires the world has ever seen, his people called him merciless.
If they disobeyed him, he’d have them squashed to death under huge boulders and stones, or he’d pour molten lead into their eyes and ears.
Now, 800 years later, in December 2015, the people of Almaty were in fear once again.
This time, by a descendant of Genghis Khan. Or, at least, a man claiming to be.
He’d escaped the high-security psychiatric facility where he was kept prisoner and was stalking the streets, hunting for human flesh.
His name was Nikolai Dzhumagaliev. Rapist. Murderer. And cannibal.
He’d claimed his first victim nearly 37 years before, back in January 1979, when he was 27.
She was a young woman, walking home alone along a quiet path after her shift in a local factory.
Nikolai had been lying in wait.
‘I went hunting as a boy,’ he said after his arrest. ‘But this was my first time hunting a woman.’
He grabbed her from behind.
Later, he’d describe to investigators how his heart raced as he put his arms around her neck and then drew the blade of his knife across it.
‘I drank her blood,’ he went on. ‘I stripped her naked. I cut the corpse’s breasts into strips, removed the ovaries, separated the pelvis and hips.’
But the horror of his crime didn’t end there.
Nikolai carried his victim’s flesh home with him to eat.
Some, he pickled. Some, he ground into mince, used it to make dumplings. He fried up the kidneys, the heart.
The rest, he grilled.
Asked how it tasted, he had one word: ‘tough’.
Over the next eight months, he killed and ate six more women.
But there was little in Nikolai’s childhood to suggest the monster he’d become.
He was born in 1952 in Uzynagash, 50km from the bustling, overpopulated Kazakh city of Almaty.
The third of four children, Nikolai’s family was poor. Just like his hero Genghis Khan’s family had been poor. And, just like Genghis Khan, the young Nikolai dreamed big.
He wanted to study at university. But he failed the entrance exams. And, while still a young man, he lost his teeth.
Poor dentistry, an accident, records don’t show what happened.But it must have been yet another blow. Yet another disappointment. Even when he was fitted with dentures.
Maybe his family couldn’t afford them, or maybe they weren’t available in Uzynagash at the time, but Nikolai’s dentures weren’t made out of acrylic or plastic. They weren’t pearly white. Nikolai’s dentures were metal
Years later, when he was arrested for murder, newspaper journalists would nickname him Metal Fang.
But did those metal teeth make Nikolai feel different, like an outsider? And could that explain why he took to the road?
When he was 20, Nikolai decided to travel. He made his way across the countries of the former Soviet Union, taking jobs where he found them.
He was at times a sailor, a bulldozer driver, a forwarder overseeing the dispatch of goods. A wanderer. A nomad. Just like Genghis Khan.
It was at some point during his travels that Nikolai is said to have contracted syphilis and trichomoniasis. It’s not known who Nikolai got these STDs from.
Prostitutes, casual encounters, a girlfriend?
But by the time he returned home to Uzynagash in 1977 at the age of 25, he hated women.
Could that have led him to kill and eat his first victim in 1979, and those that followed?
As soon as the remains of Nikolai’s first victim were found by that local factory, the authorities knew a brutal killer was on the loose.
And when the remains of his second victim were found only a few weeks later, they knew they were dealing with a potential serial killer.
But when Nikolai was arrested in August 1979, it wasn’t for the brutal murders of those women. It was for accidentally shooting his workmate dead.
He served a year in prison for the shooting. And during that time, his hunger grew.
So, as soon as he was released in December 1980, he killed again.
He’d invited some friends around for dinner. And during the evening, in a separate room, he killed one of them. A young woman.
While he gutted her body with a knife, covering himself with her blood, his other guests fled.
They called the police.
Nikolai was arrested once again. And this time, he confessed to murdering and eating the women.
‘I have this irresistible attraction to the female body,’ he explained to investigators. ‘I wanted to know it fully and completely.’
Nikolai Dzhumagaliev was found by the courts in Siberia to be insane, possibly suffering from schizophrenia.
He was unfit to stand trial.
Instead, he was sent to a high-security hospital, where he’d spend the rest of his life.
Except, Nikolai kept escaping from custody.
First, in 1989. He spent two years on the run and is believed to have killed again before being recaptured in 1991.
And then again, this time in December 2015.
Authorities in Almaty refused to confirm Nikolai had got out of his secure facility. But people living in the city claimed to have seen him soon after the reports of a break-out.
And then, on New Year’s Eve 2015, a young woman disappeared. Saida Arzhanova. Just 22 years old.
Is Metal Fang on the loose once more? Either way, the people of Almaty are afraid.
Because just like Genghis Khan, the man he claims to be descended from, Metal Fang is merciless.