Page last updated at 08:44 GMT, Sunday, 24 May 2009 09:44 UK

Agatha Christie link for Iran 'killer'

By Jon Leyne
BBC News, Tehran

Women outside a mosque in Iran
The accused is alleged to have targeted women praying at shrines

Iranian authorities have said a woman accused of being a serial killer said she took her ideas from the novels of British crime author Agatha Christie.

The woman stands accused of the murder of at least six people, most of them middle-aged or elderly women.

According to the prosecutor in the provincial city of Qazvin, the woman, 32, has confessed to a series of carefully planned murders.

She has been described as Iran's first female serial killer.

Drugged and strangled

Apparently the suspect told the police that she had taken her ideas from the novels of Agatha Christie.

Just like Agatha Christie's villains, she made careful plans to conceal her crimes.

The woman targeted middle-aged or elderly women at shrines where they were praying.

After offering them lifts, she gave them fruit juice spiked with anaesthetic, then strangled the victims, and stole their jewellery and other possessions.

The bodies were dumped at secluded spots.

The woman told police she committed the crimes over a four month period, in order to pay off debts of around US$25,000 (£15,000).

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