Monday, 3 January 2011

Eugene Perchikov, suspected in deaths of mistress & Manhattan widow, commits suicide in Israeli jail

Monday, January 3rd 2011

By Matthew Kalman

JERUSALEM -- A man wanted by New York prosecutors in the unexplained deaths of his Brooklyn mistress and a Manhattan widow committed suicide in an Israeli jail, authorities said Monday.

Eugene Perchikov, 62, was found dead in the cell he shared with seven other prisoners at the Russian Compound police jail in central Jerusalem, where he was being held as he fought extradition to New York.

The families of both women believe Perchikov, who had medical training, offed them with the same "perfect murder" method he described in one of several creepy mysteries he wrote more than a decade ago -- fatal drugs that leave no traces in a victim's body.

Perchikov, a Russian emigre, had taken hefty life insurance policies out on the two -- and fled the U.S. after collecting $1 million for the death of his mistress, 48-year-old dressmaker Larysa Vasserman.

The suspect is also believed to have used his medical training in his own demise: Jailers say he cut himself with a disposable razor in a place on his body that would have fatal results.

The Daily News reported last October after Perchikov's arrest that he had been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury in connection with the double murder mystery.

The nature of the charges were under seal, but Israeli authorities say that extradition papers filed in Jerusalem District Court described him as wanted for the murders of both Vasserman and Tatiana Korkhova, 54.

Vasserman, a lonely divorcee who met Perchikov through a personal ad, died in her Brooklyn apartment in 2002. Korkhova, a widowed bookkeeper who knew Perchikov from Russia, was found dead in her Manhattan home in 2004.

In both cases, the medical examiner could not determine the cause of death.

Both women had been persuaded by Perchikov to take out multiple life insurance policies - using fraudulent information - naming him as beneficiary, court papers charge. Perchikov was only able to collect on one of the three policies taken out by Vasserman.

He was arrested by Israeli police at Ben-Gurion airport in October after a three-year manhunt. He apparently lived with his wife in Herzliya, Israel but she had denied any knowledge of his whereabouts.

Perchikov wrote his eerie murder mysteries under the pen name Eugene Pepperou.

A suit filed by Korkhova's estate claims she was given "an overdose of norepinephrine, a method of murder which Perchikov described in detail in the short story."

The lawyer representing both women's estates hired prominent pathologist Cyril Wecht to review their deaths.

He found a scenario Perchikov described in his self-published volume of short stories - in which a murder victim is killed with an undetectable injection of norepinephrine - was plausible.

A suit filed by Vasserman's family against Perchikov and the insurance companies was dismissed.

The Israeli Prison Service and the police have opened an investigation into his death. His lawyer, Mechael Ironi, told the Haaretz newspaper that he believed Perchikov stood a good chance of beating the extradition request.

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