In February 2023, a Russian woman named Viktoria Nasyrova was convicted of attempted murder. Her crime: poisoning her lookalike with a drug-laced piece of cheesecake.
On Aug. 28, 2016, Nasyrova contacted a Queens-based beautician she'd seen a few times, a Ukrainian immigrant named Olga Tsvyk, pictured. Nasyrova said she was going on vacation to Mexico the next day and needed an emergency eyelash repair. The only problem was that Tsvyk was not at work — it was her day off.
Nasyrova pleaded with Tsvyk to allow her come to her house for an appointment. Tsvyk accepted Nasyrova's plea, and when Nasyrova arrived, with her were three square pieces of cheesecake. Nasyrova insisted Tsvyk try it and she obliged. Twenty minutes later, Tsvyk says she began to feel sick and eventually passed out.
Tsvyk's neighbor would later tell police he saw a woman come by the house the next morning with some chicken soup. After the woman quickly went up to Olga's room, the neighbor said the woman headed downstairs, cleaned the bowl and left. After not seeing or hearing from Tsvyk all day, the neighbor said he went up to Tsvyk's room to check on her. He said he found Olga passed out in bed wearing lingerie. There were pills scattered on the floor and, despite the fact that it was summertime, the heater in Tsvyk's room was set to high. He said he called an ambulance.
Records show Tsvyk checked in to New York Presbyterian Hospital in Queens, New York, where she would stay for three days. The hospital performed a urine analysis and a complete blood count test, but both came back negative for any illicit substances. Tsvyk was discharged on September 1.
After being alerted that Tsvyk was ill, her sister, Irina, flew to New York from Ukraine. She contacted police.
Police get involved
NYPD Detective Kevin Rodgers received a phone call from patrol officers stating that there was a woman in a semiconscious state, who reported that valuables, including handbags, had been stolen from her room.
Det. Rodgers went to the scene and interviewed Olga Tsvyk. She told. Rodgers the last thing she remembered was her client, Viktoria Nasyrova, coming over with a piece of cheesecake that made her incredibly ill. She said she lost consciousness, and her next memory was after returning home from the hospital.
Rodgers was suspicious and wondered why someone would target Tsvyk. He recovered the cheesecake container with remaining pastry crumbs still inside and instructed his team to bag it for evidence and testing.
Rodgers tried to find Nasyrova, but couldn't.
Olga Tsvyk is not alone
After Olga Tsvyk returned to work, another client told her she knew of someone who had a very similar experience. A few months earlier, a business owner in Queens named Ruben Borukhov found a match on a Russian dating site who said she loved to cook. Her name? Viktoria Nasyrova.
After the two arranged to meet for dinner, Nasyrova served Borukhov a piece of fish. As soon as he tried a bite, he said he passed out. He said Nasyrova took cash, credit cards and went on a shopping spree while he was unconscious. Two days later, Borukhov was still out of it. He said Nasyrova took him to his dry-cleaning business where his employees urged his sister to call an ambulance. Nasyrova fled, but not before taking cash out of a drawer.
Authorities say nobody investigating Nasyrova for the New York poisonings knew she was already a wanted woman.
On the lookout
In 2014, Alla Alekseenko, pictured right, mysteriously disappeared in Russia, where Nasyrova was then living. Alekseenko's daughter Nadia Ford, who was living in New York, had looked into her mother's disappearance, suspecting Nasyrova was involved and that Nasyrova had left Russia to settle in New York. Interpol issued an international alert for Nasyrova, also known as a "Red Notice," but authorities were unable to find her.
In early 2017, Ford hired a private investigator named Herman Weisberg to find Nasyrova. By scouring her Facebook profile, he found out she lived in Sheepshead Bay, a Russian neighborhood in Brooklyn, remarkably only five or six blocks away from Ford herself. After a month of investigating, Ford's hired sleuth was able to pinpoint Nasyrova's exact location thanks to some amazing detective work.
After observing the photos Nasyrova had posted on Facebook, Weisberg noticed Nasyrova was wearing mirrored sunglasses in some of her selfies. From the reflections in her glasses — and from other photos — he was able to find both the car she drove and the apartment building where she was living.
On the morning of March 20, 2017, Weisberg alerted local police to Nasyrova's whereabouts. She was arrested and taken into custody the same day.
After obtaining a search warrant for the apartment where Nasyrova was living, police recovered multiple handbags, a ring and multiple pieces of identification belonging to Olga Tsvyk.
Rodgers, alerted of Nasyrova's arrest, began reviewing evidence photos of items found in her apartment. After seeing the photos of Tsvyk's ID, Rodgers recognized there was a striking resemblance between Olga and Nasyrova. He says it dawned on him that Nasyrova was after more than material goods. She wanted Tsvyk's identity.
A DNA hit
Rodgers soon ordered the cheesecake container from Tsvyk's home to be tested at two forensic labs. One of the tests came back positive for a drug called Phenazepam, a potentially lethal sedative primarily found in Russia.
Rodgers learned that the drug's effects were heightened in a hot environment. Remember, when Olga was found in her room the heat was set on high even though it was a hot August day. The tests also revealed Nasyrova's DNA was on the container. The forensics tests convinced Rodgers all the more that the attack on Tsvyk had been a premeditated murder attempt.
On Feb. 15, 2018, Viktoria Nasyrova was already in custody when she was charged with attempted murder. At the arraignment, she pleaded not guilty.
Court is in session
After Nasyrova spent nearly six years in custody, due in part to pandemic-related delays, opening statements were finally heard in the case against her on Jan. 30, 2023.
On the third day of trial, Nadia Ford took the stand. The judge limited prosecutors from going into specifics about the murder charges facing Nasyrova in Russia; however, Ford was still able to convey important details about her mother's disappearance to the jury.
Guilty as charged
After an hour-and-a-half of deliberation, the jury found Nasyrova guilty of attempted murder. Olga Tsvyk, pictured center with Nadia Ford to her right, later expressed relief about the verdict in an interview with "48 Hours," saying she finally feels she has justice.
Nasyrova faced a maximum of 25 years.
"An extremely dangerous woman"
More than two months after the verdict, Judge Kenneth Holder called Nasyrova an "extremely dangerous woman," while announcing her sentence.
Nasyrova was sentenced to 21 years in prison. With credit for time served, she could be out in 15 years. But authorities say after Nasyrova serves her time in New York, she will face deportation and a potential trial in Russia for the murder of Alla Alekseenko.