Tamara Antonovna Ivanyutina was a Ukrainian serial killer who used poison to kill. Common weapon of choice for women. As a matter of fact, her whole family were serial killers, who decided to get rid of anyone they didn’t like. Tamara’s macabre personality was exposed when several students and school staff were treated in the hospital with symptoms of food poisoning. At the very same school where Tamara worked as a dishwasher in the kitchen.
Before her trial, there were only two women sentenced to death in the Soviet Union through the court system. She was the third.
Born to a big family of six, Tamara was taught since childhood that the most important thing in life was material well-being. This was very uncommon at a time of deep communism. Although the psychiatrist concluded that she was sane, personality traits such as high self-esteem, a need for revenge and resentment were written in the documents to describe the defendant.
One of the surviving victims, chemistry teacher Viktor Stadnik, characterized her as persistent and arrogant, as well as rude and lacking discipline.
March, 1987. Several students and workers at School #16 in the Podolsk district of Kiev were rushed to the hospital with symptoms of food poisoning. Two children and two adults died immediately, another nine were held in the intensive care unit. Doctors initially suspected victims had the flu or some sort of intestinal infection, but when victims began losing their hair, accusations of foul play surfaced.
The investigators found that all of the victims had eaten the day before at the school cafeteria. The person responsible for food safety had died two weeks before the events, from heart disease.
The circumstances of the death brought more questions than answers, which is why the investigators decided to exhume the body of the food inspector. As a result, traces of thallium were found in her body, which led to an investigation of all people who were related to the school kitchen, including Ivanyutina, who worked there as a dishwasher.
The investigators found Tamara had a small but very heavy jar, which was seized for further examination. Laboratory tests concluded that the substance was liquid Clerici – a highly toxic thallium-based substance used in some areas of geology.
In the course of the investigation it emerged that the suspect had a criminal record and that, in order to work at school she had faked her employment record.
Tamara wrote a confession about killing the children. Refusing to take responsibility because she lacked education, the motive was that sixth graders refused to arrange tables and chairs and she simply decided to punish them.
Further investigation revealed the whole family – her older sister Nina Antonovna Matsibora, as well as their parents Anton and Maria Fedorovna Mitrofanovich, were serial poisoners. The family members purchased the poison from a friend who worked at the Geological Institute, in order to kill rats.
The victims were husbands, neighbors, even domestic animals. Anyone they didn’t like, or just when they saw a possibility for financial gain. Tamara killed her first husband to inherit his apartment. During her second marriage she poisoned her father-in-law in order to get his house. She also taught her sister how to poison her husband to get an apartment. According to court documents the parents committed numerous poisonings.
All the defendants were found guilty of murder and attempted murder.
Before Tamara was sentenced to death, she admitted her dream was to buy a car, something that was not available to an ordinary working class citizen. The family attempted to bribe the judge, promising him a lot of gold.
Her sister got 15 years, her father and mother – respectively 10 and 13 years.