Grand Forks man admits to trying to kill woman he said was a witch

Akmal Rashidovich Azizov

A Grand Forks man pleaded guilty to attempted murder, among other charges, on Monday, Oct. 7.

Akmal Rashidovich Azizov reportedly stalked a woman he knew last fall and plotted to kill her before attacking her. He immediately told first responders that he was the perpetrator and that he’d tried to kill the UND student because “she was a witch.”

He told investigators he’d been stalking the woman for weeks, following her around UND’s campus and to her Garden View Drive apartment. Azizov was convinced the woman was a witch, according to court documents, and he told investigators “he needed to slay her.”

He followed the woman to her apartment on Sept. 5, 2018, with the intention to stab her to death with an antique silver pocket knife he’d purchased from the online retailer Etsy. Search history from 21-year-old Azizov’s computer showed he researched web pages and believed silver was the only way to kill a witch.

Azizov said he “lost his nerve” and didn’t attack the woman initially. He returned to his home then went back to the woman’s apartment and waited outside.



He smashed in the back window of her car with his skateboard in an attempt to get her attention and lure her from the apartment, a court document said. When she came outside, Azizov attacked her from behind and slashed at her throat several times with the knife, police said.
The woman broke free and ran to a neighbor’s apartment for help as she waited for police. She suffered several injuries but did not require hospitalization.

Officers said Azizov approached them when they arrived on scene and told them he was responsible.

Azizov was initially held without bond because of the seriousness of the crime. He previously told officers he would try to kill the victim again if he was released. His bond was later dropped to $500,000, but he remained in jail.

His attorney, Theodore Sandberg, has argued that Azizov suffers from schizophrenia. He was granted bond that allowed him to leave the Grand Forks County Correctional Center to receive mental health treatment at Red River Behavioral Health Center. Azizov voluntarily left the mental health treatment program to return to jail.

He pleaded guilty to attempted murder, stalking and criminal mischief. A charge of terrorizing was dropped as part of the plea agreement.

Azizov will spend at least four years in prison for the attempted murder charge, but could face up to 20 years behind bars for the felony charge.

He is not an American citizen and could face deportation to Uzbekistan, his home country, after he serves his sentence.


A new misdemeanor charge was filed against Azizov on Friday alleging he stole another inmate’s MP3 player and flushed it down the toilet.

He is scheduled for sentencing on the attempted murder charge on Nov. 12.

Tess covers crime and courts for the Grand Forks Herald. She previously worked for the Associated Press, Lincoln Journal Star, Omaha World-Herald and The Voice News. Reach her at (701) 780-1267, or on Twitter @ByTessWilliams.
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