A serial killer charted his crimes on a chessboard, attaching a number and a coin to each square every time he struck.
By the time he was caught, Alexander Pichushkin had filled in 62 of the 64 squares.
He will face a jury trial next month accused of 49 of the murders because prosecutors could not find enough evidence to charge him over the other 13.
Most of the victims were men whom 33-year-old Pichushkin lured to Bittsa Park in south- west Moscow with the promise of a drink. More than 40 died after he threw them into a sewage pit when they were too drunk to resist. The rest he killed with a hammer.
In a televised interview, Pichushkin calmly bragged about his passion for killing.
“For me, a life without murder is like a life without food for you,” he said. “I felt like the father of all these people, since it was I who opened the door for them to another world.”
The spate of killings in sprawling Bittsa Park began in 2001.
Pichushkin was arrested in June 2006 after police found his name and phone number on a piece of paper that a woman who was killed in the park had left for her son.
He denied his involvement at first, but then confessed to the murder after police confronted him with CCTV footage which showed him accompanying the victim in a subway.
He went on to confess to at least 62 murders and led police to the bodies of many of his victims, investigators said.
Police found his chessboard with a number and a coin attached to each square, said the chief investigator in the case, Andrei Suprunenko.
Shortly after Pichushkin’s arrest, police invited Russian television to film and broadcast him in an effort to counter media speculation that he had been forced into making false confessions.
Pichushkin said on TV that he had killed his first victim, a classmate, in 1992 when he was 18. Police had questioned him then, but no charges were filed.
“My client understands that he is to blame for most of these murders,” Pichushkin’s lawyer told reporters outside the courtroom after a 15-minute hearing yesterday.
Pichushkin scowled as he was brought into Moscow City Court under heavy guard for the preliminary appearance at which he opted to be tried by a jury, instead of a panel of judges.
In a red-and-white checked shirt and jeans, he occasionally stretched his arms and stared out from his glass enclosure without displaying any emotion.
During the hearing, relatives of two of the alleged victims sat only yards from Pichushkin.
His trial was set for September 13 and he faces life in prison if convicted, following the abolition of the death penalty.