The body of a 9-year-old boy was discovered in a shallow grave in one of the city’s parks last week, after the authorities received a tip-off from one of the victim’s distant relatives. Investigators concluded that the victim was asphyxiated, detaining two suspects shortly afterwards.

One of them is the boy’s father, identified as 40-year-old Ivan Kazantsev, who recently moved to the city from Russia’s neighboring country of Belarus with his family – his wife and two sons. Kazantsev’s wife reportedly fled back to Belarus after the murder, and for now she’s being treated as a  murder witness by investigators.

Kazantsev’s accomplice is a Russian citizen, 48-year-old Zemfira Gaynullina. Both suspects fled the city but they were nabbed by law enforcement in Russia’s Republic of Bashkiria, adjacent to the Ekaterinburg region. The two were detained by a Russian court for two months on Monday to prevent them from escaping while the investigation is ongoing.

The murder took place in the apartment that the Kazantsev family rented. The investigators thoroughly examined the flat and have already secured vital evidence there.

Preliminary data, released by Russia’s Investigative Committee, dryly states that the suspect was driven by “personal animosity” that ultimately led to the murder. While the story is already quite gruesome as it is, the emerging details on it are outright blood-chilling.

The parents of the murdered boy turned out to be members of a small-time sect, known as the Disciples of Christ, which was led by Gaynullina. Both the sect leader and Kazantsev were quite reluctant to talk to mundane law, referring to the heaven’s law instead and appeared not to be in touch with reality.

“Both detainees behaved, to put it mildly, strangely. They  produced the impression of being zombified,” a local police spokesman said.

Sect activities have apparently involved Gaynullina playing guitar and her followers dancing, praying together and so on, footage available at scarcely populated social media pages of the sect indicate.

More violent practices, however, remained private. The sect endorsed and encouraged medieval-style corporal punishment of children, namely lashing, that was supposedly helpful to rid them of “demons,” Russian media reported.

The murder apparently occurred during such an exorcism session – the boy asphyxiated on a gag placed into his mouth to silence the screams during the ‘educational’ torture session, Russian media reports suggested.

The boy’s body reportedly showed signs of being exposed to prolonged torture, yet scarce official data does not corroborate this.

Upon realizing the boy was dead, Kazantsev reportedly asked the sect leader Gaynullina to resurrect him. The process took from one to two days, yet unsurprisingly yielded no results – no miracle occurred and the suspects then dumped the boy’s body, wrapped in a blanket, in a city park.

Being out of touch of with reality or not, the duo then promptly fled the city. They have apparently been trying to leave the country as well, since Kazantsev admitted he was heading to “visit his wife” alongside his surviving son.

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