Murder of Yakov Gluzman by Rita Gluzman and Vladimir Zelenin examined on Snapped

police tape

Snapped is investigating the murder of Yakov Gluzman, who was killed by his wife Rita Gluzman and her cousin Vladimir Zelenin and dismembered in a bathtub at his apartment in Pearl River, New York.

Yakov and Rita Gluzman were married for 26 years; originally from the Soviet Union, the couple had fought hard to escape to America. Rita had even gone on a hunger strike in an effort to get her husband out of the USSR.

The couple had successful lives in the US; Rita had her own business, and Yakov was a renowned scientist working on cancer research.

However, Yakov decided to end the marriage and leave Rita for another woman. Rita was reportedly furious as the couple began an acrimonious divorce.

Rita began to plot her former husband’s death. She enlisted the help of her cousin, Zelenin, who was a reluctant accomplice but reportedly aided Rita because he felt indebted to her for helping him come to the US.

On April 6, 1996, Rita and Zelenin went to Yakov’s Pearl River apartment armed with two axes, a knife, and a hammer. They struck their victim repeatedly until he died.

Vladimir Zelenin and Rita Gluzman chose to hack up Yakov Gluzman

The killers divided their grisly labors as Zelenin was tasked with cutting up Yakov’s body, and Rita soaked up the blood and cleaned the scene.

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The following day, Rita told Zelenin to dump the body parts in the Passaic River. Zelenin was spotted with the bags by a police officer, who noticed blood on his hands. He was arrested and quickly turned on Rita, agreeing to testify against her.

Rita tried to run. A few days later, she was caught at a cabin on a complex in Long Island where her husband had previously worked. She had her passport and travel documents and had already contacted multiple airlines.

Zelenin pleaded guilty to his role in the murder and was sentenced to 22 and a half years.

Rita Glusman, who became known as the Jewish Lizzie Borden, was sentenced to life in prison. By a strange quirk of the law, she was convicted not of murder but of crossing state lines to injure a spouse or intimate partner.

This new law was enacted two years before under the Violence Against Women Act. Rita was only the third person to be prosecuted under the law designed to protect women from domestic abuse.

Rita Gluzman maintained her innocence in Yakov Gluzman killing

At her sentencing, Rita maintained her innocence, claiming, “I did not do it and I still say that in front of the world.”

In 2020, Rita was released from prison on compassionate grounds after suffering a stroke and early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. She had served 19 years.

Snapped airs Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen.

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