The dismembered bodies of six children and their pregnant mother were found in an apartment in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod on Tuesday morning, Russian media reported.
The prime suspect is Oleg Belov, the children's father and the husband of the pregnant woman, the TASS news agency reported, citing an unidentified source in law enforcement. The man, a member of the Seventh-day Adventist religious organization, suffers from schizophrenia, his mother-in-law told the media.
Local police officers were looking for the man, who has been put on a wanted list, at the time of publication.
Media reported that a freshly dug hole containing dismembered remains presumed to be those of Belov's mother had also been found at an unidentified property in the Vladimir region.
Police believe the massacre was carefully planned, TASS reported. On July 25, Belov picked his children up from kindergarten, saying he was taking the whole family on vacation out of town.
The next day, according to the police, his wife Yulia Belova ran to the neighbors, screaming that her husband was killing her and her children, but the neighbors didn't call the police.
“Fights often happened in the family. The father [Belov] constantly beat up his wife and children. Yulia kept sending me photos of her bruises,” Belova's mother Valentina Zaitseva told TASS. According to the NTV television channel, in 2011 local officials tried to give sole custody of the Belov children to his wife and deprive him of his parental rights, but Belova asked the court not to do so.
“I've been calling [their apartment] for several days now, but no one picked up the phone,” Zaitseva was cited by TASS as saying Tuesday. “It was only today that I found out what had happened,” she said.
Kindergarten employees called the police Tuesday when the children didn't show up and no one answered the phone at the family home. Police officers forced open the door to the apartment and discovered the dismembered bodies of Belov's children and wife, who was five months pregnant, the LifeNews sensationalist website reported. Some of the body parts were in plastic bags, the report said.
Zaitseva claimed that her violent son-in-law had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was registered with a psychiatric clinic, LifeNews reported. It was not immediately clear whether he was receiving any treatment.
The family's neighbors told the police that they had seen Belov leaving the apartment on Monday, but didn't know where he was going. The Interior Ministry has sent a group of investigators from Moscow to Nizhny Novgorod, TASS reported.