MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian police arrested a man on Tuesday suspected of killing 26 elderly women, sometimes posing as a social worker to enter their homes before strangling them and stealing their valuables, law enforcement agencies said.
Russia's RIA news agency and other state media said investigators believe him to be a serial killer known as the Volga Maniac who preyed on retired women living alone in twelve different regions in 2011-12, most of them near the Volga River.
The Investigative Committee that handles probes into serious crimes identified the suspect as a metalworker named Radik Tagirov, 38, who was jailed for theft in 2009 and released in 2010. His lawyer could not be reached for comment.
The agency said it had DNA samples linking the suspect to the killings. He was apprehended at an address in the city of Kazan, it added.
The Vesti state television channel aired footage of a man it said was the suspect admitting to strangling women, a method he described as "quiet, quick and painless for them, I thought."
The killer used nearby objects such as a dressing-gown cord and a cable for an iron to strangle victims, RIA reported.
Authorities had offered a reward of up to 3 million roubles for information on his whereabouts and been looking for him for years.
(Reporting by Tom Balmforth; editing by Alexandra Hudson)