The horrifying moment when a mother, who was described by Russian law enforcement as "evil", buys a last bar of chocolate for her two young children at a gas station shortly before she brutally murdered them was caught on CCTV cameras.
The 27-year-old mother, divorcee Elena Karimova, is also reported to have bought lighter fuel from the gas station which she later used to burn the bodies of her four-year-old daughter Khadizha and her two-year-old son Suleiman, whom she is reported to have strangled in the back seat of her rented Kia Rio.
The fashionable woman, who had 27,000 followers on her Instagram cosmetics business page, was taken into custody on murder charges in April 2018 and the case will soon go to court.
The disturbing CCTV video was released by Russia's Investigation Committee on January 21, the Daily Mail reported. The mother-of-two can be seen acting completely normal as she pays in advance for the fuel while buying a bar of Snickers and barbecue lighter fluid.
She then proceeds to the hired car, inside which her two children sit, and fills up the tank with fuel before she goes back in to collect the items which she bought and then gets back to the car.
It has also been alleged that an hour or so after the CCTV footage was captured, she parked her car and strangled both her children to death. The murderous mother then took the bodies of her children into the woods and used the lighter fluid to incinerate their bodies.
The woman from Nizhny Novgorod, however, was afraid that locals in the area would see the smoke so she used water to then extinguish the flames.
State investigators then said that she put the charred remains of her children in the car and went home for the night with the remains allegedly still in the rental. The next day, on April 26, she took the corpses to an abandoned warehouse close to the city and then proceeded to set the entire building on fire. The firemen who extinguished the flames found what appeared to be severely burned bodies.
Evgeny Katyshev, a local resident, said: "The fireman initially thought that the charred corpse belonged to a dog. But when he came closer, he realized these were the bodies of two children. They were in unnatural poses, and rumors spread that they had been transported in a suitcase. The bodies were so damaged only one leg remained, and it was impossible to identify the gender of the corpses."
The locals in the area also noticed her rental car at the scene and authorities interviewed her shortly after which led to a full confession. She told the officers, "I couldn't provide for my children," and blamed money issues for her gruesome actions.
However, she later retracted the confession that she murdered her children. In Karimova's initial court appearance, she admitted that she killed her children by saying: "'I'm very sorry for what happened. I do not even know how I could go about this. I lived with my husband, and then we divorced and it became difficult to raise children."
In spite of her financial problems, the mother spent £470 per month on car rentals and even went on holidays abroad. Shocked family members and friends said that what she did was "totally out of character" and even refused to believe that she was capable of such depravity.
Karimova is also reported to have stolen jewelry from her friend worth £1,600. According to the Investigative Committee, the man who rented the car to her provided them with evidence that she was responsible for the crimes.
The committee also insisted that she did not have any accomplices. Authorities said that Karimova went through psychiatric tests and was found to be sane.
After they released the video, which was a key part of the case against her, the committee said: "CCTV cameras at a filling station recorded on the day of the murder as a 27-year-old resident of Nizhny Novgorod filled the tank of a rented car, and also bought lighter fuel, and for children, who were in the car, the last chocolate bar of their lives."
Natalia Testenkova, her mother, was dumbstruck by the murder and said: "We do not believe this. She is the most loving mother. How could she kill her kids? We do not know what has happened, but we do not believe these are her kids that were found." Law enforcement officials, however, confirmed that the children were indeed hers.