Chikatilo: The Rostov Ripper
Andrei Chikatilo confessed to 56 murders when he was eventually
caught in 1990. The brutal killer preyed on children and young
vagrants, eating intimate parts of their bodies.
Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo was born on 16th October 1936 in
Yablochnoye, a village in the heart of rural Ukraine, within the
USSR. During the 1930s, the Ukraine was known as the
“Breadbasket” of the Soviet Union, and the policies of
communism, realised through Stalin’s enforcement of agricultural
collectivisation, caused widespread hardship within the country,
leading eventually to a famine that decimated the population. At
the time of his birth, the effects of the famine were still
widely felt, and his early childhood was influenced by the
deprivation, made worse still when the USSR entered the war
against Germany, causing the Ukraine to be the subject of
sustained bombing raids.
In addition to the external hardships, Chikatilo is believed to
have suffered from hydrocephalus (or water on the brain) at
birth, which caused him genital-urinary tract problems later in
life, including bed-wetting into his late adolescence and,
later, the inability to sustain an erection, although he was
able to ejaculate. His home life was disrupted by his father’s
conscription into the war against Germany, where he was
captured, held prisoner, and then vilified by his countrymen for
allowing himself to be captured, when he finally returned home.
Such was the political control exercised in the Soviet Union at
that time that the young Chikatilo suffered the consequences of
his father’s “cowardice”, making him the focus of school
Painfully shy as a result of this, his only sexual experience
during adolescence occurred, aged 15, when he is reported to
have overpowered a young girl, ejaculating immediately during
the brief struggle, for which he received even more ridicule.
This humiliation coloured all future sexual experiences, and
cemented his association of sex with violence.
He failed his entrance exam to Moscow State University, and a
spell of National Service was followed by a move to
Rodionovo-Nesvetayevsky, a town near Rostov, in 1960, where he
became a telephone engineer. His younger sister moved in with
him and, concerned by his lack of success with the opposite sex,
she engineered a meeting with a local girl, Fayina, whom he went
on to marry in 1963. Despite his sexual problems, and lack of
interest in conventional sex, they produced two children, and
lived an outwardly normal family life. In 1971, a career change
to school teacher was short-lived, when a string of complaints
about indecent assaults on young children forced him to move
from school to school, before he finally settled at a mining
school in Shakhty, near Rostov.
On 22nd December 1978, Chikatilo killed his first documented
victim; 9 year old Lena Zakotnova was lured into an abandoned
shed, where Chikatilo tried to rape her. Trying to control the
struggling child, Chikatilo slashed her with a knife,
ejaculating whilst doing so, confirming his psychological
connection between violent death and sexual gratification that
went on to typify all future attacks.
An eyewitness had seen Chikatilo with the victim, shortly before
her disappearance, but his wife provided him with a cast-iron
alibi that enabled him to evade any further police attention. A
25-year old, Alexsandr Kravchenko, with a previous rape
conviction, was arrested and confessed to the crime under
duress, probably as a result of extensive and brutal
interrogation. He was tried for the killing of Lena Zakotnova,
and executed in 1984.
Perhaps as a result of his close brush with the law, there were
no more documented victims for the next three years. Still
dogged by claims of child abuse, Chikatilo found it impossible
to find another teaching post, when he was made redundant from
his mining school post, in early 1981. He took a job as a clerk
for a raw materials factory in Rostov, where the travel involved
with the position gave him unlimited access to a wide range of
young victims, over the next 9 years.
On 3rd September 1981, Larisa Tkachenko, 17, became his next
victim, strangled, stabbed and gagged with earth and leaves, to
prevent her crying out. The brutal force afforded Chikatilo his
sexual release, and he began to develop a pattern of attack that
saw him focussing on young runaways of both sexes, whom he
befriended at train stations and bus stops, before luring them
into nearby forest areas, where he would attack them, attempt
rape and use his knife, as a penis substitute, to mutilate them.
In a number of cases he ate the sexual organs, or removed other
body parts such as the tips of their noses or tongues. In the
earliest cases, the common pattern was to inflict damage to the
eye area, slashing across the sockets and removing the eyeballs
in many cases, an act which Chikatilo later attributed to a
belief that his victims kept an imprint of his face in their
eyes, even after death.
At this time serial killers were a virtually unknown phenomenon
in the Soviet Union, whether as a result of suppression of
information, or wider cultural differences between Soviet and
Western societies. Evidence of serial killing, or child abuse,
was often suppressed by State-controlled media, in the interests
of public order. The eye mutilation was a modus operandi
distinct enough to allow for other cases to be linked, when the
Soviet authorities finally admitted that they had a serial
killer to contend with. As the body count mounted, rumours of
foreign inspired plots, and werewolf attacks, became more
prevalent, and public fear and interest grew, despite the lack
of any media coverage.
In 1983 Moscow detective, Major Mikhail Fetisov, was seconded to
Rostov to assume control of the investigation. He recognised
that a serial killer might be on the loose, and assigned a
specialist forensic analyst, Victor Burakov, to head the
investigation in the Shakhty area. The investigation centred on
known sex offenders, and the mentally ill, but such were the
interrogation methods of the local police that they regularly
solicited false confessions from prisoners, leaving Burakov
sceptical of the majority of these “confessions”. Progress was
slow, especially as, at that stage, not all of the victim’s
bodies had been discovered, so the true body count was unknown
to the police. With each body, the forensic evidence mounted,
and police were convinced that the killer had the blood type AB,
as evidenced by the semen samples collected from a number of
crime scenes. Samples of identical grey hair were also
When a further 15 victims were added during the course of 1984,
police efforts were increased drastically, and they mounted
massive surveillance operations that canvassed most local
transport hubs. Chikatilo was arrested for behaving suspiciously
at a bus station at this time, but again avoided suspicion on
the murder charges, as his blood type did not match the suspect
profile, but he was imprisoned for 3 months for a number of
minor outstanding offences.
What was not realised at the time was that Chikatilo’s actual
blood type, type A, was different to the type found in his other
bodily fluids (type AB), as he was a member of a minority group
known as “non-secretors”, whose blood type cannot be inferred by
anything other than a blood sample. As police only had a sample
of semen, and not blood, from the crime scenes, Chikatilo was
able to escape suspicion of murder. Today’s sophisticated DNA
techniques are not subject to the same fallibility.
Following his release, Chikatilo found work as a travelling
buyer for a train company, based in Novocherkassk, and managed
to keep a low profile until August 1985, when he murdered two
women in separate incidents.
At around the same time as these murders, Burakov, frustrated at
the lack of positive progress, engaged the help of psychiatrist,
Alexandr Bukhanovsky, who refined the profile of the killer,
describing him as a “necro-sadist”, or someone who achieves
sexual gratification from the suffering and death of others.
Bukhanovsky also placed the killer’s age as between 45 and 50,
significantly older than had been believed up to that point.
Desperate to catch the killer, Burakov even interviewed a serial
killer, Anatoly Slivko, shortly before his execution, in an
attempt to gain some insight into his elusive serial killer.
Coinciding with this attempt to understand the mind of the
killer, attacks seemed to dry up, and police suspected that
their target might have stopped killing, been incarcerated for
other crimes, or died. However, early in 1988, Chikatilo again
resumed his killing, the majority occurring away from the Rostov
area, and victims were no longer taken from local public
transport outlets, as police surveillance of these areas
continued. Over the next two years the body count increased by a
further 19 victims, and it appeared that the killer was taking
increasing risks, focussing primarily on young boys, and often
killing in public places where the risk of detection was far
The recently unfettered media of Gorbachev’s Glasnost society
placed enormous public pressure on police forces to catch the
killer, and general police patrols were stepped up, with Burakov
targeting likely areas with undercover police in an attempt to
flush out the killer. Chikatilo evaded capture narrowly, on a
couple of occasions, but on 6th November 1990, fresh from
killing his final victim, Sveta Korostik, his suspicious
behaviour was noted by patrolling policemen at the station
nearby, and his details were taken. His name was linked to his
previous arrest in 1984, and he was placed under surveillance.
Chikatilo was arrested on 20th November 1990, following more
suspicious behaviour, but he refused at first to confess to any
of the killings. Burakov decided to allow the psychiatrist,
Bukhanovski, who had prepared the original profile, to talk to
Chikatilo, under the guise of trying to understand the mind of a
killer from a scientific context. Chikatilo, clearly flattered
by this approach, opened up to the psychiatrist, providing
extensive details of all of his killings, and even leading
police to the site of bodies previously undiscovered.
He claimed to have taken the lives of 56 victims, although only
53 of these could be independently verified. This figure was far
in excess of the 36 cases that the police had initially
attributed to their serial killer.
Having been declared sane and fit to stand trial, Chikatilo went
to court on 14th April 1992, and throughout the trial he was
held in an iron cage designed to keep him apart from the
relatives of his many victims. Referred to in the media as “The
Maniac”, his behaviour in court ranged from bored to manic,
singing and talking gibberish; at one point he was even reported
as having dropped his trousers, waving his genitals at the
The judge appeared less than impartial, often overruling
Chikatilo’s defence lawyer, and it was clear that Chikatilo’s
guilt was a foregone conclusion. The trial lasted until August
and, surprisingly, given the judge’s bias, the verdict was not
announced until two months later, on 15th October 1990, when
Chikatilo was found guilty on 52 of the 53 murder charges, and
sentenced to death for each of the murders.
Chikatilo’s appeal centred around the claim that the psychiatric
evaluation which had found him fit to stand trial was biased,
but this process was unsuccessful and, 16 months later, he was
executed by a shot to the back of the head, on 14th February
The psychiatrist who had been instrumental in his capture,
Aleksandr Bukhanovski, went on to become a celebrated expert on
sexual disorders and serial killers.
Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo
(Russian: Андрей Романович
Чикатило, Ukrainian: Андрій
Романович Чикатило, Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo;
October 16, 1936 – February 14, 1994) was a Ukrainian-born
Soviet serial killer, nicknamed the Butcher of Rostov,
The Red Ripper or The Rostov Ripper who committed the
murders of a minimum of 52 women and children between 1978 and
1990. He was convicted of 52 murders in October 1992 (although
he did confess to a total of 56 murders and was tried for 53 of
these killings) and was subsequently executed for the murders
for which he was convicted in February, 1994.
Chikatilo was known by such titles as The
Rostov Ripper and the Butcher of Rostov because the
majority of his murders were committed in the Rostov Oblast of the
Andrei Chikatilo was born in the village of
Yablochnoye (Yabluchne) in modern Sumy Oblast of the Ukrainian
SSR. He was born soon after the famine in Ukraine caused by
Joseph Stalin's forced collectivisation of agriculture.
Ukrainian farmers were forced to hand in their entire crop for
statewide distribution. Mass starvation ran rampant throughout
Ukraine, and reports of cannibalism soared. Chikatilo's mother,
Anna, told him that his older brother Stepan had been kidnapped
and cannibalized by starving neighbors, although it has never
been independently established whether this actually happened.
Chikatilo's parents were both farm labourers
who lived in a one-room hut. As a child, Chikatilo slept on a
single bed with his parents. He was a chronic bed wetter and was
berated and beaten by his mother for each offense.
When the Soviet Union entered World War II, his
father, Roman, was drafted into the Red Army and subsequently
taken prisoner after being wounded in combat. During the war,
Chikatilo witnessed some of the effects of Blitzkrieg, which both
frightened and excited him. On one occasion, Chikatilo and his
mother were forced to watch their hut burn to the ground. In 1943,
while Chikatilo's father was at the front, Chikatilo's mother gave
birth to a baby girl. In 1949, Chikatilo's father, who had been
liberated by the Americans, returned home. Instead of being
rewarded for his war service, he was branded a traitor for
surrendering to the Germans.
Shy and studious as a child,
Chikatilo was an avid reader of Communist literature. He was also
a target for bullying by his peers. During adolescence, he
discovered that he suffered from chronic impotence, worsening his
social awkwardness and self-hatred. Chikatilo was shy in the
company of females: his only sexual experience as a teenager was
when he, aged 17, jumped on an 11-year-old friend of his younger
sister and wrestled her to the ground, ejaculating as the girl
struggled in his grasp.
In 1953, Chikatilo finished school and applied
for a scholarship at the Moscow State University; although he
passed the entrance examination, his grades were not good enough
for acceptance. Between 1957 and 1960, Chikatilo performed his
compulsory military service.
Marriage and teaching
In 1963, Chikatilo married a
woman to whom he was introduced by his younger sister. The
couple had a son and daughter. Chikatilo later claimed that his
marital sex life was minimal and that, after his wife understood
that he was unable to maintain an erection, he and his wife
agreed that in order that she could conceive, he would ejaculate
externally and push his semen inside her vagina with his fingers.
In 1965, their daughter Ludmila was born, followed by son Yuri
in 1969. In 1971, Chikatilo completed a correspondence course in
Russian literature and obtained his degree in the subject from
Chikatilo began his career as a teacher of
Russian language and literature in Novoshakhtinsk. His career as a
teacher ended in March 1981 after several complaints of child
molestation against pupils of both sexes. Chikatilo eventually
took a job as a supply clerk for a factory.
Beginning the murders
In September 1978, Chikatilo
moved to Shakhty, a small coal mining town near Rostov-on-Don,
where he committed his first documented murder. On December 22,
he lured a 9-year-old girl named Yelena Zakotnova to an old
house which he had secretly purchased; he attempted to rape her,
but failed to achieve an erection. When the girl struggled, he
choked her to death and stabbed her body, ejaculating in the
process of knifing the child. Chikatilo then dumped Zakotnova's
body in a nearby river.
Despite evidence linking Chikatilo to the
girl's death (spots of the girl's blood were found in the snow
near Chikatilo's house and a witness had given police a detailed
description of a man closely resembling Chikatilo who she had seen
talking with Zakotnova at the bus stop where the girl was last
seen alive), a 25-year-old named Alexsandr Kravchenko who, as a
teenager, had served a jail sentence for the rape and murder of a
teenage girl, was arrested for the crime and subsequently
confessed to the killing. He was tried for the murder in 1979. At
his trial, Kravchenko retracted his confession and maintained his
innocence, stating his confession had been obtained under extreme
duress. Despite his retraction, he was convicted of the murder and
sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment (the maximum possible length
of imprisonment at that time). Under pressure from the victim's
relatives, Kravchenko was retried and eventually executed for the
murder of Lena Zakotnova in July, 1983.
Following Zakotnova's murder, Chikatilo was
only able to achieve sexual arousal and orgasm through stabbing
and slashing women and children to death, and he later stated the
urge to relive the experience overwhelmed him.
Chikatilo committed his next murder in
September 1981, when he tried to have sex with a 17-year-old
boarding school student named Larisa Tkachenko in a forest near
the Don river. When Chikatilo failed to achieve an erection, he
became furious and battered and strangled her to death. As he had
no knife, he mutilated her body with his teeth and a stick.
Following Biryuk's murder, Chikatilo no longer
attempted to resist his homicidal urges: between July and December,
1982, he killed a further six victims between the ages of nine and
nineteen. He established a pattern of approaching children,
runaways and young vagrants at bus or railway stations, enticing
them to a nearby forest or other secluded area and killing them,
usually by stabbing, slashing and eviscerating the victim with a
knife; although some victims, in addition to receiving a multitude
of knife wounds, were also strangled or battered to death. Many of
the bodies found bore striations of the eye sockets. Pathologists
concluded the injuries were caused by a knife, leading
investigators to the conclusion the killer had gouged out the eyes
of his victims.
Chikatilo's adult female victims
were often prostitutes or homeless women who could be lured to
secluded areas with promises of alcohol or money. Chikatilo would
typically attempt intercourse with these victims, but he would
usually be unable to get an erection, which would send him into a
murderous fury, particularly if the woman mocked his impotence. He
would achieve orgasm only when he stabbed the victim to death. His
child victims were of both sexes; Chikatilo would lure these
victims to secluded areas using a variety of ruses, usually formed
in the initial conversation with the victim, such as promising
them assistance or company; with the offer to show the victim a
shortcut; a chance to view rare stamps, films or coins or with an
offer of food or candy. He would usually overpower these victims
once they were alone, tie their hands behind their backs with a
length of rope, and then proceed to kill them.
Chikatilo did not kill
again until June 1983, but he had killed five more times before
September. The accumulation of bodies and the similarities
between the pattern of wounds inflicted on the victims forced
the Soviet authorities to acknowledge a serial killer was on the
loose: on September 6, 1983, the Public Prosecutor of the USSR
formally linked six of the murders thus far committed to the
A Moscow police team,
headed by Major Mikhail Fetisov, was sent to Rostov-on-Don to
direct the investigation. Fetisov centered the investigations
around Shakhty and assigned a specialist forensic analyst,
Victor Burakov, to head the investigation. Due to the sheer
savagery of the murders, much of the police effort concentrated
on mentally ill citizens, homosexuals, known pedophiles and sex
offenders, slowly working through all that were known and
eliminating them from the inquiry. A number of young men
confessed to the murders, although they were usually mentally
handicapped youths who had admitted to the crimes only under
prolonged and often brutal interrogation. Three known
homosexuals and a convicted sex offender committed suicide as a
result of the investigators' heavy-handed tactics, but as police
obtained confessions from suspects, bodies continued to be
discovered proving the suspects who had previously confessed
could not be the killer the police were seeking: in October
1983, Chikatilo killed a 19-year-old prostitute, and in December
a 14-year-old schoolboy named Sergey Markov.
The killings continue
In January and February 1984, Chikatilo
killed two women in Rostov's Aviators' Park. On March 24, he
lured a 10-year-old boy named Dmitry Ptashnikov away from a
stamp kiosk in Novoshakhtinsk. While walking with the boy,
Chikatilo was seen by several witnesses who were able to give
investigators a detailed description of the killer; when
Ptashnikov's body was found three days later, police also found
a footprint of the killer and semen and saliva samples on the
On May 25, Chikatilo killed a young woman,
Tatyana Petrosyan and her 11-year-old daughter, Svetlana, in
woodland outside Shakhty. Petrosyan had known Chikatilo for
several years prior to her murder. By July 19, he had killed three
further young women between the ages of 19 and 22 and a 13-year-old
In the summer of 1984, Chikatilo
was fired from his work as a supply clerk for theft of property.
The accusation had been filed against Chikatilo the previous
February and he had been asked to resign quietly but had refused
to do so as he had denied the charges. Chikatilo found another job
as a supply clerk in Rostov on August 1.
On August 2, Chikatilo killed a 16-year-old
girl, Natalya Golosovskaya, in Aviators' Park and on August 7, he
killed a 17-year-old girl on the banks of the Don River before
flying to the Uzbekistan capital of Tashkent on a business trip.
By the time Chikatilo returned to Rostov on August 15, he had
killed a young woman and a 12-year-old girl. Within two weeks an
11-year-old boy had been found strangled, castrated and with his
eyes gouged out in Rostov before a young librarian, Irina
Luchinskaya, was killed in Rostov's Aviators' Park on September 6.
Arrest and release
On September 13, 1984, exactly one week after
his fifteenth killing of the year, Chikatilo was observed by an
undercover detective attempting to lure young women away from a
Rostov bus station. He was arrested and held. A search of his
belongings revealed a knife and rope. He was also discovered to
be under investigation for minor theft at one of his former
employers, which gave the investigators the legal right to hold
him for a prolonged period of time. Chikatilo's dubious
background was uncovered, and his physical description matched
the description of the man seen with Dmitry Ptashnikov in March.
These factors provided insufficient evidence to convict him of
the murders, however. He was found guilty of the theft of the
property from his previous employer and sentenced to one year in
prison. He was freed on December 12, 1984, after serving three
On October 8, 1984, the head of the Russian
Public Prosecutors Office formally linked 23 of Chikatilo's
murders into one case, and dropped all charges against the
mentally handicapped youths who had previously confessed to the
Following the September 6 murder of Irina
Luchinskaya, no further bodies were found bearing the trademark
mutilation of Chikatilo's murders and investigators in Rostov
theorized that the unknown killer may have moved to another part
of the Soviet Union and had continued killing there. The Rostov
police sent bulletins to all forces throughout the Soviet Union,
describing the network of wounds their unknown killer inflicted
upon his victims and requesting feedback from any police force who
had discovered murder victims with wounds matching those upon the
victims found in the Rostov Oblast. The response was negative: no
other police force had found murder victims with wounds matching
those upon the description within the bulletin.
Late murders and the
Upon his release from jail,
Chikatilo found new work in Novocherkassk and kept a low profile.
He did not kill again until July 31, 1985, when he murdered a
young woman near Domodedovo Airport, near Moscow. One month later,
Chikatilo killed another woman in Shakhty. Both victims were
linked to the hunt for the killer.
In November 1985, a special procurator named
Issa Kostoyev was appointed to supervise the investigation. The
known murders around Rostov were carefully re-investigated and
police began another round of questioning of known sex offenders.
The following month, the militsiya and Voluntary People's Druzhina
renewed the patrolling of railway stations around Rostov. The
police also took the step of consulting a psychiatrist, Dr.
Alexandr Bukhanovsky, the first such consultation in a serial
killer investigation in the Soviet Union.
Bukhanovsky produced a 65-page psychological
profile of the unknown killer for the investigators, describing
the killer as a man aged between 45 and 50 years old who was of
average intelligence, was likely to be married or had previously
been married, but who was also a sadist who could only achieve
sexual arousal by seeing his victims suffer. Bukhanovsky also
argued that because many of the killings had occurred on weekdays
near mass transportation and across the entire Rostov Oblast, that
the killer's work required him to travel regularly, and based upon
the actual days of the week when the killings had occurred, the
killer was most likely tied to a production schedule.
Chikatilo followed the investigation carefully,
reading newspaper reports about the manhunt for the killer and
keeping his homicidal urges under control; throughout 1986 he is
not known to have committed any murders. In 1987 Chikatilo killed
three times; on each occasion he killed while on a business trip
far away from the Rostov Oblast and none of these murders were
linked to the manhunt in Rostov. Chikatilo's first murder in 1987
was committed in May, when he killed a 13-year-old boy named Oleg
Makarenkov in Revda. In July, he killed another boy in Zaporozhye
and a third in Leningrad in September.
In 1988, Chikatilo killed three times,
murdering an unidentified woman in Krasny-Sulin in April and two
boys in May and July. His first killing bore wounds similar to
those inflicted on the victims linked to the manhunt killed
between 1982 and 1985, but as the woman had been killed with a
slab of concrete, investigators were unsure whether to link the
murder to the investigation.
In May Chikatilo killed a 9-year-old boy in
Ilovaisk, Ukraine. The boy's wounds left no doubt the killer had
struck again, and this murder was linked to the manhunt. On July
14, Chikatilo killed a 15-year-old boy named Yevgeny Muratov at
Donleskhoz station near Shakhty. Muratov's murder was also linked
to the investigation, although his body was not found until April
Chikatilo did not kill again
until March 8, 1989, when he killed a 16-year-old girl in his
daughter's vacant apartment. He dismembered her body and hid the
remains in a sewer. As the victim had been dismembered, police did
not link her murder to the investigation. Between May and August,
Chikatilo killed a further four victims, three of whom were killed
in Rostov and Shakhty, although only two of the victims were
linked to the killer.
On January 14, 1990, Chikatilo killed an 11-year-old
boy in Shakhty. On March 7, he killed a 10-year-old boy named
Yaroslav Makarov in Rostov Botanical Gardens. The eviscerated body
was found the following day.
On March 11, the leaders of the investigation,
headed by Mikhail Fetisov, held a meeting to discuss progress made
in the hunt for the killer. Fetisov was under intense pressure
from the public, the press and the Ministry of the Interior in
Moscow to solve the case: the intensity of the manhunt in the
years up to 1984 had receded to a degree between 1985 and 1987,
when Chikatilo had killed only two victims conclusively linked to
the killer — both of them in 1985. By March 1990, six further
victims had been linked to the killer. Fetisov had noted laxity in
some areas of the investigation, and warned people would be fired
if the killer was not caught soon.
Chikatilo had killed three further victims by
August 1990: On April 4, he killed a 31-year-old woman in woodland
near Donleskhoz station, on July 28, he lured a 13-year-old boy
away from a Rostov train station and killed him in Rostov
Botanical Gardens and on August 14, he killed an 11-year-old boy
in the reeds near Novocherkassk beach.
The discovery of more victims sparked a massive
operation by the police; as several victims had been found at
stations on one rail route through the Rostov Oblast, Viktor
Burakov — who had been involved in the hunt for the killer since
1982 — suggested a plan to saturate all larger stations in the
Rostov Oblast with an obvious uniformed police presence the killer
could not fail to notice, with the intention to discourage the
killer from attempting to strike at any of these locations, and
with smaller and less busy stations patrolled by undercover agents,
where his activities would be more likely to be noticed. The plan
was approved, and both the uniformed and undercover officers were
instructed to question any adult man in the company of a young
woman or child and note their name and passport number. Police
deployed 360 men at all the stations in the Rostov Oblast, and
only undercover officers at the three smallest stations —
Kirpichnaya, Donleskhoz and Lesostep — on the route through the
oblast where the killer had struck most frequently, in an effort
to force the killer to strike at one of these three stations. The
operation was implemented on October 27, 1990.
On October 30, police found the body of a 16-year-old
boy named Vadim Gromov at Donleskhoz Station. Gromov had been
killed on October 17, 10 days prior to the implementation of the
initiative. The same day Gromov's body was found, Chikatilo lured
another 16-year-old boy, Viktor Tishchenko, off a train at
Kirpichnaya Station, another station under surveillance from
undercover police and killed him in a nearby forest.
On November 6, 1990, Chikatilo
killed and mutilated a 22-year-old woman named Sveta Korostik in
woodland near Donleskhoz Station. While leaving the crime scene,
he was seen by an undercover officer. The policeman observed
Chikatilo approach a well and wash his hands and face. When he
approached the station, the undercover officer noted his coat had
grass and soil stains at the elbows. Chikatilo also had a small
red smear on his cheek. To the officer, he looked suspicious. The
only reason people entered woodland near the station at that time
of year was to gather wild mushrooms (a popular pastime in Russia).
Chikatilo, however, was not dressed like a typical forest hiker;
he was wearing more formal attire. Moreover, he had a nylon sports
bag, which was not suitable for carrying mushrooms.
The policeman stopped Chikatilo and checked his
papers. Having no formal reason for arrest, Chikatilo was not held.
When the policeman came back to his office, he filed a formal
routine report, indicating the name of the person he stopped at
the train station.
On November 13, Korostik's body was found.
Police summoned the officer in charge of surveillance at
Donleskhoz Station and examined the reports of all men stopped and
questioned in the previous week. Chikatilo's name was among those
reports and his name was familiar to several officers involved in
the case, having been questioned in 1984 and placed on the 1987
Upon checking with Chikatilo's present and
previous employers, investigators were able to place Chikatilo in
various towns and cities at times when several victims linked to
the investigation had been killed. Former colleagues from
Chikatilo's teaching days informed investigators Chikatilo had
been forced to resign from his teaching position due to complaints
of sexual assault from several pupils.
Police placed Chikatilo under surveillance on
November 14. In several instances, particularly on trains or
buses, he was observed to approach lone young women or children
and engage them in conversation; if the woman or child broke off
the conversation, Chikatilo would wait a few minutes then seek
another conversation partner. On November 20, after six days of
surveillance, Chikatilo left his house with a one gallon flask for
beer, then wandered around Novocherkassk, attempting to make
contact with children he met on his way. Upon exiting a cafe,
Chikatilo was arrested by four plainclothes police officers.
Upon arrest, Chikatilo gave a
statement claiming the suspicion against him was a mistake, and
complained he had also been arrested in 1984 for the same series
of murders. A strip-search of the suspect revealed a further piece
of evidence: one of Chikatilo’s fingers had a flesh wound. Medical
examiners concluded the wound was, in fact, from a human bite.
Chikatilo's penultimate victim was a physically strong 16-year-old
youth. At the crime scene, the police had found numerous signs of
a ferocious physical struggle between the victim and his murderer.
Although a finger bone was later found to be broken and his
fingernail had been bitten off, Chikatilo had never sought medical
attention for the wound. A search of Chikatilo's belongings
revealed he had been in possession of a folding knife at the time
of his arrest.
Chikatilo was placed in a cell inside the KGB
headquarters in Rostov with a police informer, who was instructed
to engage Chikatilo in conversation and elicit any information he
could from him.
The next day, 21 November, formal questioning
of Chikatilo began. The interrogation of Chikatilo was performed
by Issa Kostoyev. The strategy chosen by the police to elicit a
confession was to lead Chikatilo to believe he was a very sick man
in need of medical help. The intention of this strategy was to
give Chikatilo hope that if he confessed, he would not be
prosecuted by reason of insanity. Police knew their case against
Chikatilo was largely circumstantial, and under Soviet law, they
had ten days in which they could legally hold a suspect before
either charging or releasing him.
Throughout the questioning,
Chikatilo repeatedly denied he had committed the murders,
although he did confess to molesting his pupils during his
career as a teacher. He also produced several written essays for
Kostoyev which, although evasive regarding the actual murders,
did reveal psychological symptoms consistent with those written
by Dr. Bukhanovsky in 1985. The interrogation tactics used by
Kostoyev may also have caused Chikatilo to become defensive: the
informer sharing a KGB cell with Chikatilo reported to police
that Chikatilo had informed him Kostoyev repeatedly asked him
direct questions regarding the mutilations inflicted upon the
On November 29, at the request of Burakov and
Fetisov, Dr. Aleksandr Bukhanovsky, the psychiatrist who had
written the 1985 psychological profile of the then-unknown
killer for the investigators, was invited to assist in the
questioning of the suspect. Bukhanovsky read extracts from his
65-page psychological profile to Chikatilo. Within two hours,
Chikatilo confessed to 36 murders police had linked to the
killer: although he denied two additional murders the police had
initially linked to him. On November 30, he was formally charged
with each of these 36 murders, all of which had been committed
between June 1982 and November, 1990.
Chikatilo confessed to a further 20 killings
which had not been connected to the case, either because the
murders had been committed outside the Rostov Oblast, because the
bodies had not been found or, in the case of Yelena Zakotnova,
because an innocent man had been convicted and executed for the
In December 1990, Chikatilo led
police to the body of Alexey Khobotov, a boy he had confessed to
killing in 1989 and whom he had buried in woodland near a Shakhty
cemetery, proving unequivocally he was the killer. He later led
investigators to the bodies of two other victims he had confessed
to killing. Three of the 56 victims Chikatilo confessed to killing
could not be found or identified, but Chikatilo was charged with
killing 53 women and children between 1978 and 1990. He was held
in the same cell in Rostov-on-Don where he had been detained on
November 20, to await trial.
On August 20, 1991, after
completing the interrogation of Chikatilo and having completed a
re-enactment of all the murders at each crime scene, Chikatilo
was transferred to the Serbsky Institute in Moscow for a six-day
psychiatric evaluation to determine whether he was mentally
competent to stand trial. Chikatilo was analysed by a senior
psychiatrist, Dr. Andrei Tkachenko, who declared him legally
sane on October 18. In December 1991, details of Chikatilo's
arrest and a brief summary of his crimes was released to the
newly-liberated media by police.
Trial and execution
The trial of Andrei Chikatilo was the first
major event of post-Soviet Russia. Chikatilo stood trial in
Rostov on April 14, 1992. During the trial, he was kept in an
iron cage in a corner of the courtroom to protect him from
attack by the many hysterical and enraged relatives of his
victims. Chikatilo's head had been shaven — a standard prison
precaution against lice. Relatives of victims regularly shouted
threats and insults to Chikatilo throughout the trial, demanding
that authorities release him so that they could kill him
themselves. Each murder was discussed individually, and on
several occasions, relatives broke down in tears when details of
their relatives' murder were revealed; some even fainted.
Chikatilo regularly interrupted the trial,
exposing himself, singing, and refusing to answer questions put to
him by the judge. He was regularly removed from the courtroom for
interrupting the proceedings. On May 13, Chikatilo withdrew his
confessions to six of the killings to which he had previously
In July 1992, Chikatilo demanded that the judge
be replaced for making too many rash remarks about his guilt. His
defense counsel backed the claim. The judge looked to the
prosecutor and even the prosecutor backed the defense's judgment,
stating the judge had indeed made too many such remarks. The judge
ruled the prosecutor be replaced instead.
On August 9, both prosecution
and defense delivered their final arguments before the judge.
Chikatilo again attempted to interrupt the proceedings and had to
be removed from the courtroom. Final sentence was postponed until
October 14. As the final deliberations began, the brother of
Lyudmila Alekseyeva, a 17-year-old girl killed by Chikatilo in
August 1984, threw a heavy chunk of metal at Chikatilo, hitting
him in the chest. When security tried to arrest the young man,
other victims' relatives shielded him, preventing him from being
On October 14, the court reconvened and the
judge read the list of murders again, not finishing until the
following day. On October 15, Chikatilo was found guilty of 52 of
the 53 murders and sentenced to death for each offense. Chikatilo
kicked his bench across his cage when he heard the verdict, and
began shouting abuse. He was offered a final chance to make a
speech in response to the verdict, but remained silent. Upon
passing final sentence, Judge Leonid Akhobzyanov made the
"Taking into consideration the monstrous crimes
he committed, this court has no alternative but to impose the only
sentence that he deserves. I therefore sentence him to death".
On January 4, 1994, Russian
President Boris Yeltsin refused a last-ditch appeal for clemency.
On February 14, Chikatilo was taken to a soundproofed room in
Novocherkassk prison and executed by a single gunshot behind the
List of victims
Date of Murder
June 18, 1983
September 19, 1983
Chikatilo in media
The film, Citizen X, based on Robert
Cullen's book The Killer Department, was made in 1995
about the investigation of the "Rostov Ripper" murders. Citizen
X starred Jeffrey DeMunn as Chikatilo, with Stephen Rea as
Viktor Burakov, Donald Sutherland as Mikhail Fetisov, and Max
von Sydow as Dr. Alexandr Bukhanovsky.
Four books have been written about the case of
Child 44, a novel by Tom Rob Smith,
draws heavily on the Chikatilo story, with the events set several
decades earlier during the time of Joseph Stalin and immediately
Andrei Chikatilo: The Heart of a
by Patrick Bellamy
The Girl In The Red
the afternoon of December 22, 1978, in the small coal-mining
town of Shakhty, southern Russia, Svetlana Gurenkova sat waiting
for a streetcar to take her home. As she waited in the cold, her
attention was drawn to a plump young girl who stood a short
distance from her. The girl, who couldn't have been more than
ten, was wearing a distinctive red coat with a hood trimmed in
black fur. As further protection against the cold, she wore a
brown rabbit-fur cap and a woollen scarf.
attracted Svetlana's attention wasn't so much the girl or her
clothing but the man she was with. He was a tall, grey-haired
man in his forties wearing a long black overcoat and carrying a
shopping bag. The man had a long face and nose and wore
oversized glasses. It wasn't his appearance that made her
suspicious, it was the way the man was looking at the young girl
and whispering to her.
The girl didn't seem to know him but
still seemed interested in what he had to say. Sometime later
the man walked away. The girl followed shortly after, looking
happy and content. As Svetlana watched them walk away, her
streetcar arrived and she lost sight of them.
young girl's name was Lena Zakotnova, a bright, happy
nine-year-old who was on her way home from school when she met
the man at the trolley stop. She had told a school friend
earlier that she might be getting some "imported" chewing gum
from a "nice old man" that she'd met. Perhaps that was what
enticed her to go with the man to his "secret house," a small
run-down shack, a short walk from the trolley stop.
after reaching their destination, the man unlocked the door of
the shack and switched on the light before leading the girl
inside, locking the door behind them. Once inside, the man
wasted no time in pushing her to the floor and removing her coat
and panties. As she began to scream, he pressed his forearm
across her throat and leaned his body weight against her until
she lay still. Her eyes were still open, so he blindfolded her
with her scarf before attempting to have sex with her.
to achieve an erection, he began to violate the girls genitals
with his fingers, finding that the attack stimulated him to
orgasm like never before. As he continued with his assault, the
girl began wriggling under him, struggling to draw breath
through her damaged throat.
Concerned that the girl would report
him for what he'd done, he produced a knife and stabbed her
three times in the stomach. When she lay still, the man picked
up her body and belongings and left the house, heading across a
vacant lot to the Grushevka River. In his haste to leave, he
failed to notice two things. The blood of his victim that had
dripped onto the doorstep and the light that he had left
reaching the river he hurled her body into the freezing water
and watched it disappear downstream. Throwing her school bag
after her, he turned and headed for home, not realising that the
girl was still alive.
following day, after Lena's body was discovered floating in the
river, Svetlana Gurenkova told police at the scene that she had
seen the girl at the tram stop with a tall, thin, middle-aged
man who wore glasses and a black overcoat. A police artist was
summoned and a sketch of the man prepared. Later the same
evening, the Shahkty police arrested Alexsandr Kravchenko, a
local man who had previously served six years of a ten-year
prison sentence, for the rape and murder of a seventeen-year-old
girl in 1970. At the time of his arrest, Kravchenko was
twenty-five and had never worn glasses.
Kravchenko was being questioned, the sketch of the suspect that
Gurenkova had described was circulated throughout the town. One
man that it was shown to was the principal of a local mining
school. After looking closely at the drawing he told police that
it closely resembled one of his teachers, Andrei Chikatilo. He
was warned by police not to tell anyone that he had made an
identification. Later, as two other detectives searched the
streets that bordered the river, they found splashes of blood on
the steps of a small shack.
They also noticed that an interior
light had been left on. When inquiries with neighbours revealed
that the building was the property of Andrei Chikatilo, the
police called him in for questioning but released him shortly
after when his wife confirmed his story that he had been home
with her the entire evening.
though the evidence against Chikatilo was strong, police
considered Kravchenko a more viable suspect and eventually
managed to obtain a "confession" from him. After a short trial
Kravchenko was found guilty of the murder of Lena Zakotnova and
sentenced to fifteen years in a labour camp. Hearing the
verdict, the people of Shahkty lodged an official complaint
against the leniency of the sentence.
A new judge appointed to
investigate the complaint upheld the public appeal and passed a
death sentence on Kravchenko. By the time the sentence was
carried out in 1984, over a dozen women and children had fallen
victim to the real killer. Had the police taken the time to
further investigate Andrei Chikatilo's involvement instead of
implicating an innocent man, they would have prevented one of
the most brutal and despicable series of murders in criminal
Romanovich Chikatilo was born on the 6th of October 1936 in
Yablochnoye, a small Ukrainian farming village. Being born in
the midst of Josef Stalin's campaign to communise rural land by
force meant that Andrei was introduced to death and destruction
at a young age. At the age of five, his mother told Andrei that,
seven years earlier, his older brother Stephan had disappeared
and the family believed that he had been kidnapped and eaten by
neighbours. The story had a profound effect on the boy who later
admitted that he often imagined what had been done to his
years later when World War Two broke out, Chikatilo's father,
Roman, was conscripted into the army. Captured by the Germans,
he did not return home until well after the war when he was
branded by the Stalinist regime as a traitor for "allowing
himself to be caught." Even though Andrei was only ten when his
father returned, he was already a devout communist and openly
criticised his father for his "betrayal."
beginning, Andrei was a scholarly child who spent more time
reading than playing with friends. He was particularly attracted
to any books about the Russian partisans who fought the Germans.
One in particular told the story of how the partisans had
captured several German prisoners and had taken them to a forest
and tortured them.
of his quiet ways and an almost effeminate demeanour, Chikatilo
had few friends and was constantly teased. He was extremely
near-sighted, but because he feared that wearing glasses would
lead to more teasing, he refused to admit that he needed them.
It would be nearly twenty years before he wore his first pair.
One other fact that he took great pains to hide was that he was
a chronic bed-wetter.
reached his teens, much of the teasing stopped. He grew taller
and stronger and became known as an avid reader with an
excellent memory. By the time he was sixteen, he was the editor
of the school newspaper and the political information officer, a
role that gave him additional prestige. While his political life
developed, his social skills were virtually non-existent,
especially with females.
turned eighteen, Chikatilo applied to Moscow University to study
law. He failed the entrance exam, but blamed his rejection on
his father's humiliating war record. As he matured he became
more confident with women, but several early attempts at sex
failed when he was unable to achieve an erection. Convinced that
he was impotent, he became obsessed with masturbation. Sometime
later, while on national service, he attempted to have sex with
a woman who was not interested in his advances. As the woman
struggled, Chikatilo overpowered her only to release her shortly
after when he realised that he had ejaculated inside his pants.
Inadvertently he had discovered that fear and violence excited
him more than the sexual act itself.
years after completing his national service, he moved to Russia
in search of work. He quickly found a job as a telephone
engineer in a small town called Rodionovo-Nesvetayevsky, just
north of Rostov. When he had saved enough money, he sent for his
parents and his sister and moved them into his new home. Some
years later his sister Tatyana introduced him to a woman called
Fayina. A relationship developed and they were married in 1963.
Fayina quickly learned that her new husband was not only unable
to consummate the marriage, he had no real interest in sex. She
saw this as nothing more than intense shyness and finally
managed to coax him into having intercourse with her. Eventually
they had two children, a girl Lyudmilla, born in 1965 and a boy
Yuri in 1969.
after his marriage, Chikatilo successfully enrolled in a
correspondence course with Rostov Liberal Arts University and in
1971, gained degrees in Russian Literature, Engineering and
Marxism-Leninism. With his newfound skills, Chikatilo became a
teacher at Vocational school No. 32 in Novoshakhtinsk. Almost
from the beginning, his teaching career was a disaster. His
abject shyness made it almost impossible for him to teach or
control his pupils. He was constantly humiliated and ridiculed,
not only by his students but also by other staff members who
considered him "odd."
his lack of success, Chikatilo stayed in his teaching job. He
later admitted that he found that the company of young children
sexually aroused him. In the following years, what began as
simple voyeurism outside the school toilets had degenerated into
indecent assaults on both male and female students. When parents
began to complain, Chikatilo was forced to resign and move on to
At one such school, Chikatilo was put in charge
of a boy's dormitory. As usual, his charges ignored him or
openly teased him. Some months later, after he was caught trying
to fellate a sleeping boy, he was attacked and beaten by several
senior students. From that moment on, Chikatilo carried a knife.
At no time was he reported to the proper authorities, perhaps
because under the Soviet regime of the time, an indiscretion by
a single teacher could reflect on the entire faculty.
Chikatilo moved his family to Shakhty. Soon after, he bought the
shack near the river and lured his first victim. After being
cleared of the murder of Lena Zakotnova, Andrei Chikatilo
continued teaching until he was made redundant in 1981. Unable
to get another teaching job he found employment as a supply
clerk for the Rostovnerud, a local industrial complex. The job
entailed travel to other parts of the country to locate and
purchase supplies for the factory. He found that the periods
away from home gave him ample time to search for new victims.
Six months later he killed again.
Taste For Blood
Tkachenko was completely different from the girls that Chikatilo
was used to dealing with. At seventeen she was older than the
others and was also experienced in sexual matters. A runaway
from boarding school, Larisa had met her killer at a bus stop
outside of the Rostov public library.
She was used to dating
young soldiers and didn't mind swapping sexual favours for a
meal and a few drinks, so when Andrei Chikatilo approached her
with a similar offer, she went with him without hesitation. He
took her to a deserted stretch of woodland and, unable to
contain himself, began tearing her clothes off. As experienced
as she was, Larisa panicked and tried to fend him off. Chikatilo
quickly overpowered her and beat her about the head with his
screamed, he filled her mouth with dirt and strangled her. He
then bit off one of her nipples and ejaculated over her corpse.
He would later tell police that he had "danced with joy" around
the body until he had settled down enough to cover the body with
branches and hide her clothes. She was found the next day.
Chikatilo was elated. While his first victim had left him
frustrated and confused, the second had given him an appetite
that he found hard to satisfy. In June 1982, while on another
"business trip" to the town of Zaplavskaya, he killed
thirteen-year-old Lyuba Biryuk after following her from a bus
stop. After a failed attempt at rape he produced a knife and
stabbed her repeatedly, including several wounds to her eyes.
Because of the warm summer conditions, her body was almost a
skeleton when it was found just two weeks later.
next year, Chikatilo claimed six more victims, one in July, two
in September and one in December. The newest killings were
slightly different, Two of the victims were young males, a fact
that was to cause great confusion for the investigating police.
With virtually no experience in serial murder, and serving under
a regime that refused to admit that such crimes were possible in
the Soviet Union, the police began looking for two separate
offenders. What further confused the issue was that two of the
victims had been killed outside of the Rostov area. Even though
the crime scenes and the manner of death were strikingly
similar, no links were established.
killing another ten-year-old girl in December, Chikatilo did not
kill for another six months. His next victim was Laura Sarkisyan,
a fifteen-year-old Armenian girl whose body was never recovered
until years later when Chikatilo confessed and directed police
to her grave. This shy and impotent man quickly learned how to
choose his victims carefully. His travels took him to many
railway and bus stations where he was able to coerce young
vagrants of both sexes to go with him.
Mostly it was a promise
of food or similar treats that lured them into the isolated
tracts of forest that bordered most Russian towns. On some
occasions, the victims offered sexual favours in advance. Either
way, once they went with him they were doomed. An added
advantage of preying on vagrants in Russia was that nobody
reported them missing because, officially, they did not exist.
They only became known when their bodies were found.
the summer was over Chikatilo had claimed three more victims.
Lyuda Kutsyuba a twenty-four-year-old female, an unidentified
woman aged between 18 and 25 and a seven-year-old boy, Igor
Gudkov, who was savagely butchered.
September 1983 the total number of victims had risen to
fourteen, of which six had been found. The central Moscow
militia, concerned by the number of dead children that were
being reported by the local police, sent Major Mikhail Fetisov
and his team to Rostov to take over the investigation.
after his arrival, Fetisov reviewed the situation and sent a
scathing report to his superiors in Moscow criticising the
ineptitude of the local police and suggesting that all six
murders were the work of a single sex-crazed killer. Moscow
headquarters reluctantly accepted his findings but fell short of
calling the perpetrator a "serial killer" as that was seen to be
a purely western phenomenon and not possible in Russian culture.
A strange attitude considering that Rostov alone recorded over
four hundred homicides a year.
of the murders seemed to centre around the Rostov area,
particularly Shakhty, Fetisov and his deputy, Vladimir
Kolyesnikov, decided to assemble a special squad that would
focus its investigation on that area. To lead the squad, Fetisov
selected Victor Burakov, an experienced forensic analyst who was
considered by many to be the most talented crime scene
investigator in the department.
Soon after the appointment, Burakov and his team moved into a separate office in the militia
headquarters building in Rostov. In line with Soviet
bureaucracy, the new sub-unit was given the ponderous title of
"Division of Especially Serious Crimes." As most of the bodies
had been recovered from woodlands, the case was known
unofficially as the "Lesopolosa" or "Forest Strip killings."
Believing that the person responsible for the killings was
abnormal, the team began to search through the records of mental
hospitals looking for anyone whose behaviour patterns and
history indicated an inclination towards crimes involving sex
and violence. Criminal records were also checked for known
sexual offenders or anyone questioned in relation to similar
offences in the past.
The task was long and arduous as each
person that matched the criteria had to be interviewed, have
their movements at the time of the offences checked and have
blood samples taken for matching. The samples of semen taken
from the victims indicated that the killer had "Type AB" blood.
If any of the suspects matched, they were detained for further
questioning, those that didn't were released.
absence of computers, the details of all the suspects
interviewed were handwritten on index cards and kept in boxes.
One of the cards recorded that Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo had
been interviewed but was released when his blood type failed to
provide a match. Sometime after he was released, the police
picked up a suspect acting suspiciously near the Rostov
streetcar depot and brought him in for questioning.
named Shaburov, who was obviously retarded, soon confessed to
stealing a car with four other men. Not long after, he confessed
that he and his friends had also killed several children. His
friends were then arrested and the four were questioned
extensively for twenty-four hours.
men, who had met at a school for the mentally retarded, readily
confessed to seven "Forest Strip" murders, even though they were
unable to provide any details of the victims or their locations.
Several months later, when fresh murders were committed while
the suspects were still in custody, the police believed that
they were dealing with a "gang of madmen" and rounded up several
other retarded young men for questioning. The "questioning" was
apparently brutal and unrelenting, resulting in the death of one
of the suspects with another committing suicide while in
Eventually, as the murders continued, the "gang" theory was
dropped and the boys released. One other theory was that the
killer worked as a driver for one of the many factories in the
area, which would explain how he was able to cover such large
areas in a short time. To check the theory, anyone who held a
drivers licence and drove as part of their job was checked. In
all, over 150,000 people were interviewed before this line of
inquiry was also abandoned.
Profile Of A Killer
September 1984, apart from establishing the blood type of the
killer, the investigation had failed to uncover any useable
evidence. The fact that the blood type was shared by ten percent
of European men meant that it alone was of very little help
unless they were able to find someone to match it to.
matters worse, while the police were struggling to find an
answer, the murders were accelerating at an alarming rate. From
January to September, fifteen new murders had been committed,
eleven of them during the summer period alone.
effort to narrow down the possibilities, Burakov enlisted the
aid of several psychologists and sexual pathologists from the
Rostov Medical Institute and asked them to prepare a profile of
the killer. Most of the specialists that were consulted refused
to assist the police on the basis that they did not have
sufficient information on which to base their analysis.
psychiatrist, Aleksandr Bukhanovsky, offered his help and agreed
to provide a profile of the "Forest Strip" killer. Bukhanovsky
didn't have much to base his analysis on. Obviously the killer
was a sexual deviate, approximately 5'10" tall, 25-50 years old,
a shoe size of 10 or more and had a common blood type. After
studying the police files, Bukhanovsky gave the opinion that the
killer probably suffered from some form of sexual inadequacy and
brutalised his victims to compensate for it.
the additional information provided another means of
identification the killer would first have to be caught. In
order to facilitate that, Burakov arranged for additional men to
patrol the bus, tram and train stations. One such location that
received more attention than most was the bus station in Rostov.
Not only was it the busiest in the district but it was also the
last known location of two of the victims. Aleksandr Zanosovsky,
a local police inspector with an intimate knowledge of the
location was given the job of patrolling the area. His task was
to look for anyone acting suspiciously around other commuters,
especially young women and boys.
the end of one of the first days of the observation, Zanosovsky
noticed a middle-aged man wearing glasses whom, although
wandering aimlessly through the crowd, was paying particular
attention to young girls. After observing the man for some time
Zanosovsky approached him and asked for his identity papers. The
man seemed nervous when approached and told the inspector that
he had been away on a business trip and was on his way home.
Zanosovsky scrutinised the documents, including a red card,
which identified the man as a freelance employee of the
Department of Internal Affairs, a division of the KGB. Finding
that they were in order, the policeman handed back the papers,
apologised for the interruption and left. As he walked away,
Zanosovsky had the uneasy feeling that the man, Andrei Chikatilo
was hiding something.
Stalking The Prey
weeks later, Zanosovsky was again patrolling the bus station in
company with another police officer. Both men were in street
clothes. Late in the afternoon, just as they were about to
finish their shift, Zanosovsky saw Chikatilo again. Alerting his
partner to keep his eye on the man, he moved closer to his
quarry and sat near him and watched from behind a newspaper.
When Chikatilo moved, Zanosovsky and his partner followed. For
several hours they followed Chikatilo as he boarded several
buses that travelled around the district before returning to the
watched, Chikatilo approached women of different ages and
attempted to engage them in conversation. Often he was rebuffed
but, unperturbed, continued to approach others. The pursuit
continued into restaurants, bars and back to the station. All
the way, Chikatilo only seemed to have one thing on his mind,
talking to women.
At one stage he made himself comfortable in a
chair and dozed off for two hours. When he woke he resumed his
previous activities, the police followed. Some time later a
young woman sat down next to him and engaged him in
conversation. The talk seemed to go well as shortly after, Chikatilo put his arm around the woman.
she laid her head in his lap and Chikatilo slid his hand inside
her blouse and fondled her. The girl, who seemed intoxicated,
didn't object. Chikatilo seemed flushed with arousal. A few
minutes later, the girl sat up and spoke harshly to him and soon
after they parted company.
could wait no longer and approached Chikatilo and again asked
for his papers. When he learned that he had been observed for
some time and was under arrest, Chikatilo was shocked and began
to sweat profusely. Zanosovsky then asked to see the contents of
the man's briefcase. Chikatilo reluctantly agreed and opened it.
It contained a length of rope, a jar of Vaseline and a
normal circumstances, no Russian citizen can be held in custody
for more than seventy-two hours. In Chikatilo's case, the
detectives needed additional time to check his background, so
decided to charge him with "harassing women in public places."
This minor charge only carried a maximum sentence of fifteen
days imprisonment, but was sufficient time to make further
However, shortly after checking his police files,
they discovered that Chikatilo was under investigation for the
theft of a roll of linoleum and a car battery from a factory
where he worked as a supply clerk. In Russia, the charge of
stealing state property was considered a serious crime and meant
that the investigators would have the luxury of keeping him in
jail for as many months as it took to check his background in
history unfolded, police learned of his penchant for children,
particularly girls. They uncovered the classroom incidents, his
acts of voyeurism and the sexual assault of the boy in the
dormitory. Several people, who lived in the vicinity of his
"secret" shack, reported that he had used it to entertain
prostitutes and spoke of his habit of stalking the corridors of
The evidence seemed to indicate that he could be the
killer they sought, until a blood sample was taken from him and
analysed. His blood type was found to be Type "A." Had they
taken samples of his sperm, hair or saliva, they would have
found that his blood type was actually Type "AB" as the "B"
antigens are not present in the blood in sufficient quantities
to provide a positive match.
real evidence they had left were the contents of his briefcase
and the police report of his activities at the train stations.
Incredibly, the knife and other items were lost when a local
police lieutenant mistakenly returned them to Chikatilo's home.
Having insufficient evidence to charge him for the murders, he
was later charged with the stealing offences and sentenced to
one year's imprisonment and expelled from the Communist party.
In December 1984, after serving just three months of his
original sentence, he was released. Zanosovsky, still convinced
that Chikatilo was the killer, was later demoted for being
"overly zealous in the performance of his duties."
celebrating the New Year with his family, Chikatilo sought out a
new job and was soon employed in a locomotive factory in nearby
Novocherkassk. As before, his new job entailed travel. For the
best part of a year Chikatilo refrained from killing. It wasn't
until during a business trip to Moscow, that he gave into his
On 1st August 1985, after he completed his duties in
the capital, he flew to Rostov where he made the acquaintance of
an eighteen-year-old mentally retarded girl on the train. He
offered her some Vodka if she would get off with him at a small
station. She agreed and followed him into the woods near the
after, she lay dead with thirty-eight stab wounds in her naked
body. Chikatilo completed his trip and went home. Later the same
month after his return, he met a young woman at the bus station
in Shakhty who told him that she had nowhere to sleep. Offering
her lodgings in return for sexual favours, he led her into a
wooded grove and attempted to have sex with her but again could
not sustain an erection. When she began to laugh at him, he
killed her and left her body in a field. It was his last murder
for the year.
Andrei Chikatilo, the time in jail had been a cleansing time.
After having been arrested and miraculously released, he was
free to pursue the one thing that he desired most, young
innocent victims. While he bemoaned the loss of his status as a
party member, his new job opened up many new horizons that more
than compensated for it.
He spent most of 1986 travelling around
the country on buying trips for his employer and celebrated his
fiftieth birthday on October 16. If he killed during that time,
it did not come to the attention of the investigation team. It
wasn't until May 1987 during a trip to the town of Revda in the
Ural Mountains, that he killed a thirteen-year-old boy after
luring him from the railway station.
another trip to Zaporozhye in the Ukraine resulted in the murder
of another boy that he had followed into the woods. The attack
was so brutal that a part of his knife blade broke off and was
later found at the scene by police. The next trip to Leningrad
in September resulted in the death of yet another boy.
While Chikatilo continued to travel and kill, the police investigation
was gaining momentum. In 1985, Issa Kostoyev, the director of
Moscow's Department for Violent Crime, unofficially called "The
Killer Department," had taken over the case and reorganised his
investigators into three teams. One group concentrated on
Shakhty, another on Rostov and the third on Novoshakhtinsk. His
strategy was simple, investigate each murder systematically and
focus on the areas surrounding each one.
who had been convicted of a sexually motivated crime, including
those still in custody, was checked in great detail. All known
homosexuals were rounded up and questioned extensively. Sexual
pathologists were asked to provide lists of their patients for
scrutiny, as were venereal disease clinicians.
The latter were
added after pathologists found crab lice on one of the female
victims. All railway workers, whether civilian or military, were
checked thoroughly for any discrepancy in their work habits and
movements. Every nightclub and pornographic video store in the
three districts were put under surveillance in the hope that the
killer patronised one or more of them regularly. Kostoyev left
no stone unturned in his search for the killer, even to the
point of investigating any former police officers who had been
dismissed for improper activities.
years passed, the investigators gleaned enough information to
separate the "Forest Belt" murders from the thousands of other
similar occurrences. Slowly but surely, reports of additional
murders in surrounding districts filtered in. Two such murders
were reported from as far away as Tashkent, the capital of
Uzbekistan. Originally the Tashkent militia weren't going to
include one of the victims because her body was so badly
mutilated, they thought she had been run over by a harvesting
December 1985, Burakov and Kostoyev had organised for all trains
in the three districts to be patrolled by plain-clothed militia
and "druzhinniki," as the volunteer militia were called. Their
instructions were to stop and check the documents of anyone who
looked suspicious. In addition, Army helicopters were used to
patrol the railway lines and the adjoining forests from the air.
This increased scrutiny may have been the reason why Chikatilo
ceased his activities for nearly two years.
Whatever the reason,
the investigators were later embarrassed to learn that Chikatilo
himself, in his capacity as a freelance employer of the
Department of Internal Affairs, had been assisting the militia
to patrol the trains looking for the "killer." Armed with the
knowledge that the investigation centred around only three
areas, he resumed killing in areas far removed from them.
With A Vengence
1988, Chikatilo killed again. His latest victim was a
thirty-year-old woman that he had met on a commuter train near
the town of Krasny-Sulin, where he was sent on business with the
local metals factory. After enticing her to a vacant lot to have
sex, he stabbed her repeatedly and disfigured her corpse. When
her body was found in early April, a single shoe print was
clearly evident beside her body, the imprint was size 9-10.
the next year Chikatilo killed eight more times. The attacks
normally took place while he was travelling around the country
on business but one particular crime occurred at his daughter's
apartment in Shakhty. It had been empty since the daughter had
divorced her husband and moved back with her parents.
After Chikatilo lured sixteen-year-old Tatyana Ryzhova inside, he gave
her vodka and seduced her. After stabbing her and violating her
body, he realised that he could not leave her body at the house.
Taking a kitchen knife, he decapitated her and sawed off her
legs before wrapping her in rags and articles of clothing. He
then tied the bundles to a sled belonging to a neighbour and
dragged it through the streets to the area where he dumped her
victim was killed while Chikatilo was on his way to his father's
birthday party. Seeing nineteen-year-old Yelena Varga at a bus
stop, he offered to walk her home but instead lured her into the
woods and stabbed her. After cutting out her uterus and slicing
off part of her face, he wrapped the remains in her clothing and
left for the party. The last victim for the year was a
ten-year-old boy that Chikatilo had met in a Rostov video shop.
He died of multiple stab wounds and was buried in Rostov
cemetery by his killer.
police recovered the bodies, many of them were missing body
parts. Many females were missing their uterus and nipples and
the males had genitals and occasionally tongues sliced or bitten
off. The next murder did not take place until January 1990 with
nine more committed before November. In his last year of
freedom, Chikatilo seemed to move away from his usual preference
for females, with seven of the nine victims being young boys
aged seven to sixteen.
One of his last known victims was the
oldest boy, Vadim Tishchenko, whose body was found on November 3
near Rostov's Leskhoz railway station, a location that had been
under heavy scrutiny for months. Ironically, the day that it
wasn't patrolled, owing to a manpower shortage, was the day that
Tishchenko's body was found, a twenty-four hour surveillance of
all train and bus stations in the district was implemented.
Police wearing night vision goggles observed commuters looking
for anyone that didn't fit. To entice the killer, several young
attractive policewomen, dressed in provocative clothing, walked
the platforms and bus queues hoping to attract attention.
Another squad of police questioned the ticket sellers at the
various stations in the district, looking for the person who had
sold Tishchenko his ticket, the stub of which was found near his
an attendant at Shakhty station recognised the boy's picture and
recalled that he had bought the ticket in company with a tall
neatly dressed grey-haired man who wore glasses. The attendant
also told police that her daughter had seen a similar man the
year before. He had been on a train talking to a young boy and
she overheard the man trying to talk the boy into getting off
the train with him, but the boy had refused and run away.
police asked the attendant if they could interview her daughter.
She agreed and the daughter later provided police with a
detailed description of the man and told them that he was a
regular traveller on the trains and spent a lot of his time
trying to pick up young people.
was closing in on Andrei Chikatilo but not before he took
another victim. Twenty-two-year-old Svetlana Korostik went with
him to the woods near Leskhoz station and was beaten, stabbed
and mutilated. Chikatilo removed the tip of her tongue and both
nipples and ate them at the scene before he covered her naked
body with leaves and branches. As he returned to the station he
saw four women and a man standing on the platform. The man,
Sergeant Igor Rybakov, a policeman attached to the "Forest Belt"
taskforce, noticed Chikatilo walking beside the platform wiping
sweat from his face.
stepped closer, he noticed that the man had spots of blood on
his cheek and earlobe and wore a bandage on a finger of his
right hand. He asked Chikatilo for his identity papers, which
revealed that he was a senior engineer in the Rostov locomotive
factory. He was about to ask more questions when a train arrived
and Chikatilo insisted that he be allowed to board it. Having no
real reason to hold him, Rybakov allowed him to leave and later
filed a report of the incident.
body of Vadim Tishchenko was found, the investigators called for
any reports of persons acting suspiciously in the area. At that
time, Rybakov's report was tabled and police again focused on
the man called Andrei Chikatilo.
Chief Investigator Kostoyev
suggested that they check Chikatilo's whereabouts on May 14
1988, the day that one of the victims, Alyosha Voronka was
murdered in the city of Ilovaisk. After checking Chikatilo's
work records, they discovered that he had been in that city on
business on the same day. It was decided that a squad of
plain-clothes police would follow Chikatilo and try to catch him
in the act.
Tuesday, November 20 Chikatilo was at work. As his bandaged
finger, which had been bitten by one of his victims, was aching
badly, he left work and went to a nearby clinic for x-rays.
After receiving treatment for the finger, which was broken, he
went home. Shortly after arriving home, he went out to buy beer.
On the way he attempted to talk to a young boy but was scared
off when a woman approached. He walked further until he met
another boy that he engaged in conversation until the boy was
called away by his mother. As he continued on, three men in
leather jackets approached him and identified themselves as
One of the men then handcuffed him and told him
that he was under arrest. He was transported to the office of
Mikhail Fetisov at the regional headquarters of the Department
of Internal Affairs. Chikatilo, who had made no attempt to
resist the arrest, did not speak for the entire trip.
day that Chikatilo was arrested, he had with him a briefcase
containing a knife, a length of rope and a jar of Vaseline. They
were exactly the same items that he had been carrying the last
time he had been apprehended six years earlier. Obviously when
Chikatilo left his house on the day that he was arrested, he had
planned on picking up more than just beer. A search of his
apartment found twenty-three knives, a hammer and a pair of
shoes, that were later found to match the footprint next to the
unidentified victim found in Krasny-Sulin.
years the police had sought the notorious "Forest Belt" killer,
convinced that they were searching for an extremely violent and
dangerous criminal. After the arrest however, they had trouble
believing that the gentle, softly spoken man that sat before
them was responsible for the brutal series of crimes that had
struck fear into the hearts of over four million people.
after his arrest, Chikatilo was photographed and briefly
interviewed before being placed in a KGB isolation cell. The
next day the interrogation started in earnest. Issa Kostoyev was
given the task of questioning the prisoner, but any hopes he had
of an early confession were dashed when Chikatilo refused to be
led on any questions dealing with rape and murder.
however, point out that he had previously been arrested and
jailed for a crime that he did not commit, the theft of the car
battery. Not only did he profess his innocence of any crime, he
went to great pains to point out to Kostoyev that he had already
been questioned in relation to the "Forest Strip" murders and
had been cleared of any involvement.
after the interrogation began, Chikatilo wrote a letter
addressed to the Prosecutor General of Russia in which he
a kind of madness and ungovernablity in perverted sexual acts. I
couldn't control my actions, because from childhood I was unable
to realise myself as a real man and a complete human being."
falling short of a true confession, the statement gave Kostoyev
a valuable insight into the mind of the man he was dealing with.
The following day, Chikatilo confessed to the sexual assaults on
his former students. One day later in another letter to the
Prosecutor General, he wrote: -
inconsistent behaviour should not be misconstrued as an attempt
to avoid responsibility for any acts I have committed. One could
argue that even after my arrest, I was not fully aware of their
dangerous and serious nature. My case is peculiar to me alone.
It is not fear of responsibility that makes me act this way, but
my inner psychic and nervous tension. I am prepared to give
testimony about the crimes, but please do not torment me with
their details, for my psyche would not be able to bear it. It
never entered my mind to conceal anything from the
investigation. Everything which I have done makes me shudder. I
only feel gratitude to the investigating bodies for having
November 29, unable to break through the mental barrier that
Chikatilo was hiding behind, Kostoyev asked Dr. Bukhanovsky, the
psychiatrist, to assist with the interrogation. Bukhanovsky
agreed to help on the understanding that any tapes or notes that
he took while interviewing the prisoner were for his personal
use only and not to be used as evidence. Kostoyev agreed and the
interview began on November 30.
Bukhanovsky began the first session by assuring Chikatilo that,
because he considered his actions were caused by a mental
disorder, he would not only be prepared to explain the process
in court, but would be prepared to explain to Chikatilo's
family. After organising a meeting between Chikatilo and his
wife, during which the prisoner burst into tears, Bukhanovsky
turned to the subject of the murders. It wasn't long before
Chikatilo began to relate the true story of his involvement in
the same day it was Kostoyev's turn. From that time until
December 5, Andrei Chikatilo described in chilling detail how he
had tracked, raped and brutally killed thirty-four of the
thirty-six victims whose murders he had been charged with. Two
more were solved at a later date. As the days progressed he
continued to confess to additional murders, detailing how he had
raped, murdered and brutalised his victims, sometimes removing
body parts and eating them and drinking their blood. In all he
described the murders of fifty-two victims, mostly young
months following his confession, Chikatilo was transported
across the country to visit the scenes where he had committed
the crimes. He was uncannily accurate, not only in locating the
dumpsites, but in his recall of times, dates and places, what
the victims had been wearing at the time and what knife he had
used on them.
On most occasions, he demonstrated his method of
attack, using a dummy, showing the detectives how he stood to
one side to avoid being splashed by blood. While on one such
trip, Chikatilo remembered yet another victim, a twenty-year-old
Latvian girl that he had killed in 1984. The final count, an
astonishing fifty-three victims, making him one of the most
prolific and brutal serial-killers in recorded history.
trial began on April 14, 1992. Chikatilo was led into the
courtroom and locked inside a specially designed cage,
surrounded by armed guards. The reason for this additional
security measure was not so much to contain the prisoner but
rather to prevent the relatives and friends of the victims from
approaching him. The judge appointed to the case, Leonid
Akubzhanov, opened the proceedings by reading out the list of
indictments against the accused. That process alone took two
The judge had earlier set a precedent by allowing
members of the press full access to the court, a move that was
unusual by Russian standards. The move eventually backfired on
him when the press printed stories publicly declaring Chikatilo
as the murderer long before the evidence was heard
16, the judge allowed Chikatilo to address the court. What
followed was two hours of rambling, maniacal monologue, seen by
many as an attempt by the accused to simulate madness. As the
case continued, Chikatilo became more and more outrageous. He
constantly interjected and complained loudly about the rats and
the "levels of radiation" in his cell. At one point he removed
his clothes and waved his penis at the crowd shouting, "Look at
this useless thing, what do you think I could do with that?" He
was later removed from the court in handcuffs.
the interruptions the trial continued. So too did the outbursts.
Chikatilo complained that the judge was biased, as were the
prosecution. He insisted that the judge's female secretary be
removed as she was inciting his lust. Sometime later he told the
court that he was pregnant and the guards had been hitting him
in the stomach to "harm his baby." Despite his pleas, he was
judged competent to stand trial, but he became so disruptive
that most of the evidence was heard in his absence.
July, the trial was drawing to a close. The final comments in
the trial were those of Marat Khabibulin, Chikatilo's defence
attorney. The basis of his defence was that the police had laid
the charges based solely on his client's confession.
that there was no material evidence linking Chikatilo with any
of the crimes, including the knives, which had never been proven
as being the murder weapons. When Marat had concluded his
remarks, the judge asked Chikatilo if he wanted to address the
court. Despite his continual outbursts during the proceedings,
Chikatilo refused to comment.
With no further evidence to
consider, the judge announced that the court would adjourn for
two months for sentencing. As the judge stood to leave the
courtroom a man lunged towards the cage and threw a short iron
bar at the prisoner, missing Chikatilo's head by a few inches.
The man, a brother of one of the victims was overpowered by
guards and led away but was later released.
court reconvened on October 14 to a packed gallery. Chikatilo
was led to his cage, smiling in response to the shouting and
jeering that erupted from the crowd. The judge called for
silence and began to read the verdict. As he read, Chikatilo
constantly interrupted until he was led away, only to be brought
back to hear the rest of the verdict. Curiously at one point,
the judge agreed with one of Chikatilo's objections when he
stated that it was the refusal of the Soviet Union to
acknowledge that such crimes existed that had contributed to
Chikatilo's years of immunity.
October 15, 1992, Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo was found guilty
of fifty-two counts of murder, one charge having been dropped
owing to insufficient evidence. Chikatilo was then removed from
his cage and bought forward to stand before the judge to receive
his sentence. As fifty-two individual death sentences were
handed down, and the crowd cheered their approval, the last
words of the trial were spoken by the accused when he turned to
the judge and shouted, "Fraud! I'm not going to listen to your
lies!" before he was forcibly removed.
months later on February 14, 1994, Andrei Chikatilo, the man
referred to as "The Butcher of Rostov" and "Russia's Hannibal
Lecter," was executed by a single shot to the back of the neck.
points of reference for this story were taken from the following
Killer Department" - Robert
Cullen - Orion Books - London.
the Devil" - Richard
Lourie - Harper Collins Books - New York.
Chikatilo" - Mikhail
Krivich & Ol'gert Ol'gin - Barricade Books - New Jersey.
Giant Book of serial Killers - The Rise
and Rise of Serial Killing in the Modern Age" - Colin
Wilson - Magpie Books - London.
Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo (October 16, 1936 – February 14,
1994) was a Russian serial killer, nicknamed the Rostov Ripper.
He was convicted of the murder of 52 women and children between
1978 and 1990.
The first body found was mostly bones. A man looking for
firewood in the lesopolosa , a rectangular "shelterbelt" or
forested strip of land planted to prevent erosion, found the
remains. While the area was only about 50 yards wide, with a
path running through it, no one had seen this body until it was
pretty well decomposed. There were small patches of leathered
skin on some of the bones and some black hair hanging from the
skull. The man who found the remains reported them to the
militsia , the local authorities in this southern region of
The body had no identifying clothing and had been left on its
back, the head turned to one side. The ears were still
sufficiently intact to see tiny holes for earrings, and those,
along with the length of the hair, suggested that this victim
had been female. It also appeared from her postmortem posture
that she had tried to fight her attacker. It appeared that two
ribs had been broken, perhaps by a knife, and closer inspection
indicated numerous stab wounds into the bone. A knife had
apparently cut into the eye sockets, too, as if to remove the
eyes, and similar gouges were viewed in the pelvic region.
Whoever had done this, the police thought, had been a frenzied
They did have a report on a missing 13-year-old girl, Lyubov
Biryuk from Novocherkassk, a village not far away. Investigators
called the uncle of the missing girl who had done an extensive
search for her after she'd disappeared earlier in the month. He
came to where the body lay to look at the remains. Lyubov's
uncle, perhaps clutching to some small glimpse of hope, said his
niece's hair was not as dark and that the bones looked to him as
if they had been there longer than she had been missing. A few
hours later, Major Mikhail Fetisov arrived from militsia
headquarters in Rostov-on-Don, the closest large city. He was
the leading detective, or syshchik, for the entire region. He
asked for records of other missing persons in the area and
ordered military cadets in training to search the surrounding
woods. He also ordered the remaining skin on the hands be
The next day, the searchers found a white sandal and yellow bag
containing the brand of cigarettes that the young girl had set
out to purchase. Then fingerprints of the corpse and the
schoolgirl's book covers confirmed that this body was Lyubov's.
DNA analysis for body identification was several years away, but
from what evidence they had, they could be sure it was the
missing girl. The medical examiner hypothesized that warm
temperatures and heavy rain had afforded the accelerated state
Despite a thorough search around the remains, no evidence was
produced that could help to identify the person who had killed
her, and the dress that Lyubov had worn was missing. That meant
that no trace evidence could be collected from it. It was
thought to be a random attack, nearly impossible to solve.
According to Robert Cullen, author of a well-known book on the
case, most murders in that area of Russia fell into one of two
categories: intimate killings, in which a person got into a rage
or a drunken state and murdered someone he knew, usually a
family member; and instrumental murders done to take something
from the victim. But no one in the girl's family was a clear
suspect and she'd had nothing of any value on her person.
There was a path near the body that people traveled often, and a
road only 75 yards away. This had been a crime of some risk,
with evidence of overkill. Although sexual crimes were
considered manifestations of self-indulgent Western societies,
there were plenty of signs that this incident had been just such
It became clear later from the autopsy report that she had been
attacked from behind and hit hard in the head with both the
handle and the blade of a knife. Perhaps she'd been knocked out
right away. At any rate, she had been stabbed at least 22
separate times and mutilated in other ways. (In Hunting the
Devil , told by Richard Lourie partly from the killer's
perspective, the number of wounds was 41.)
The police came up with ideas and began looking for possible
suspects: those who were mentally ill, juvenile delinquents, or
someone with a history of sex crimes. They tried to find out
whom Lyubov had known and how she might have encountered this
killer. One man, convicted in another rape, learned that he was
a suspect and promptly hanged himself. That seemed to put an end
to the investigation. There were no other viable suspects, and
for all they knew, the killer had found his own form of
redemption. But then another victim was discovered.
Division of Especially Serious Crimes
Less than two months after the discovery of Lyubov's remains, a
railroad worker who was walking near the train station for
Shakhty, a small industrial town 20 miles away, came across a
set of skeletal remains. It appeared to have been there for
approximately six weeks and was soon identified as an adult
woman. The body had been stripped, left facedown, with the legs
open. What made investigators take note was a key similarity
with the murder of Lyubov: multiple stab wounds and lacerated
eye sockets. That was a rare manifestation of murder.
Since no one of this approximate size and gender had been
reported missing, no identification was made.
Only a month later, a soldier gathering wood about 10 miles
south of that spot came across more remains, also of a woman
lying face down. She had been covered with branches, but close
inspection showed the pattern of knife wounds and damage to the
eye sockets. She, too, remained unknown.
The linkage was obvious. A serial killer had claimed at least
three victims. But no one was admitting that, especially not to
the press. Officially what they had were three separate unsolved
murders. (They actually had seven that year, Richard Lourie
says, but they would not know that for some time to come.)
Major Fetisov organized a task force of 10 men to start an
aggressive full-time investigation. He intended to get to the
heart of this and stop this maniac from preying on any more
female citizens. Among those he recruited was a second
lieutenant from the criminology laboratory named Viktor Burakov,
37, and his perspective is presented in Cullen's book. He was
the best man they had for the analysis of physical evidence like
fingerprints, footprints, and other manifestations at a crime
scene, and he was an expert in both police science and the
martial arts. Known for his diligence, he was invited aboard the
Division of Especially Serious crimes in January 1983. Little
did anyone realize then just how diligent he would prove to be
and would have to be.
That same month, a fourth victim was found. She appeared to have
been killed about six months earlier and was near the area where
the second set of remains was discovered. She, too, had the
familiar knife wounds, but some female clothing was found nearby
and assumed to be hers. She was possibly a teenager.
All they knew at this point was that the killer?whom they now
called the Maniac?did not smoke (or he'd have taken the
cigarettes found near Lyubov), and that he was a man. He had
some issue with eyes, but whether it was based on superstition
or a fetish or some other consideration authorities had no idea.
At any rate, as Cullen points out, gouging out the eyes
indicated that the killer spent some time with the victims after
they were dead.
With no definite leads, the unit decided to look back in time
and see if there might be other victims. Burakov's first real
task was to head an investigation in Novoshakhtinsk, a farming
and mining town in the general area, where a 10-year-old girl
had just been reported missing.
Confusion in the Andrei Chikatilo Case
Olga Stalmachenok had gone to a piano lesson on December 10,
1982. No one had seen her since. Burakov questioned her parents
and learned that she got along with them and had no apparent
cause to just run away. However, the parents had received a
strange postcard from "Sadist-Black Cat" telling them their
daughter was in the woods and warning that there would be 10
more victims that coming year. Burakov dismissed this as a sick
prank, but still feared that the girl was dead.
Then on April 14, four months after her disappearance, Olga's
body was found in a field about three miles from the music
conservatory where she had gone for her lesson. Her nude body
was lying in a frozen tractor rut on a collective farm. The
police left her in place until Burakov could arrive to see the
crime scene for himself. Because she had been killed during the
winter, the snow had preserved the corpse, so the pattern of
knife wounds was clearly visible on her bluish-white skin. The
skull was punctured, as were the chest and stomach. The knife
had been inserted dozens of times, as if in a frenzy, moving the
organs around in the body cavity. The killer had especially
targeted the heart, lungs, and sexual organs. And as with the
others, this offender had attacked the eyes with his
Without a doubt, Burakov knew that he was looking for a vicious,
sexually-motivated serial killer who was attacking victims at a
quickening rate, drawing no attention to what he was doing, and
leaving no evidence. There were no resources that Burakov was
aware of to utilize. Men who killed in this manner were
supposedly few and only top-ranking officials knew the details
of those investigations.
Burakov, who followed the long route from the conservancy to the
place where the body was left, believed the killer had a car. He
also felt sure the man did not frighten people when he
approached. There was nothing overt in his appearance that would
alarm women or children. That would make him harder to find,
though he surely had some sort of covert mental disorder that
hopefully some people noticed.
They decided to focus fully on investigating known sex offenders
in the area, specifically where they were on December 11. Then
on released mental patients, and then men who lived or worked
around the conservancy who owned or used a car. Also,
handwriting experts came in to compare the Black Cat card
against samples from the entire population of that town. It was
tedious work, with no promise of yielding a single clue. Yet
doing nothing was guaranteed to provide no clue, so at least
they had a start. What they did not know, according to Lourie,
was that a 15-year-old boy had also been killed in a similar
manner near Shakhty, then left to be covered by snow. He would
not be found for some time.
For the next four months, nothing turned up of any value,
although they realized that snow could easily cover what might
have occurred, and then it was discovered that the killer had
struck again. In another wooded lesopolosa near Rostov-on-Don, a
group of boys found some bones in a gully. Again, they could
find no missing-persons report, and an examination of the bones
not only linked this crime with the others but revealed that the
girl (it seemed) had had Down's syndrome. That made things a
little easier, despite the horror of realizing the killer had
lured a mentally retarded child with no possibility of defending
herself. They could check the special schools in the area to
make an identification. A 45-year-old woman was also murdered in
the woods over the winter, but no one linked her to the
lesopolosa series. That would come later.
The girl turned out to have been 13, attending a school for
children with her condition. No one had missed her, since she
often left, so no one had reported her. But her case took a back
seat to the next body, discovered in September in a wooded area
near Rostov's airport, two miles from victim No. 6. However it
was an 8-year-old boy. He had been stabbed, like the others,
including his eyes, and it turned out that he had been missing
since August 9. Like the little girl going to piano lessons, he
had ridden on public transportation.
This new development puzzled everyone. With what little was
known about killers, the basic analysis was that they always
went after the same type of victim. This man had killed grown
women and young children, girls and boys. The investigators
wondered if they might have more than one killer doing the same
kind of perverse ritual. It seemed impossible, but so did the
idea that so many victim types could trigger the same type of
sexual violence in one person. Then Burakov learned that the
killer had finally been apprehended. It was over. He went to the
jail to learn what he could about this man.
The suspect was Yuri Kalenik, 19. He had lived for years in a
home for retarded children and had then been trained to lay
floors in construction. He remained friends with older boys in
his former residence and one day when they were riding on a
trolley, the conductor caught them. Grabbing one boy, she wanted
to know what he knew about the recent murders and he told her
that Yuri had done them. So based on the squirming accusation of
a mentally slow boy who was trying to free himself from
punishment, the officials believed they had broken the case.
Yuri was arrested and interrogated. He had no right to a lawyer
or to remain silent. He barely knew what was happening to him.
Nevertheless, he denied everything. He had not killed anyone.
Yet the interrogators kept him there for several days, believing
(according to Cullen) that a guilty man will inevitably confess.
It soon became clear to Yuri that to stop being beaten he would
have to tell them what they wanted to hear, so he did. And then
some. He confessed to all seven murders, and added four unsolved
murders in the area to his list. Now all the police needed was
supporting evidence. This young man was quite a catch.
Viktor Burakov accepted the task of further investigation. Yuri
seemed a viable suspect, because he had a mental disorder and he
rode on public transportation. And why would he confess to such
brutal crimes if he did not do them? At the time?and even
today?there was little understanding of the psychology of false
confessions. Less intelligent people tend to be more susceptible
to suggestion, especially when fatigued, and they will tell
interrogators whatever pleases them?usually supplying whatever
clues they hear from the questions. Sociologist Richard Ofshe
recounts case after case of suspects who admitted to things they
did not do, despite the harsh consequences, and Wrightsman lists
several studies of people exonerated by DNA evidence who had
confessed to the crime for which they were imprisoned. Most
juries do not believe people will confess falsely and they
accept a confession as the best type of evidence against
Even better, when a suspect can lead police to the site of where
someone was murdered, that's considered good confirmation, and
Kalenik did just that with several of the incidents.
Nevertheless, Burakov was not convinced. He saw that Kalenik did
not go straight to a site, even when he was close, but appeared
to wander around until he picked up clues from the police about
where they expected him to go. Burakov did not consider that to
be a good test. Upon examining the written confession, he was
even less convinced. It was clear to him that Kalenik had been
given most of the information that he was expected to say, and
had then felt intimidated. It was difficult to know just how to
proceed, but then another body was found.
In another wooded area, the mutilated remains of a young woman
were found. Her nipples had been removed?possibly with teeth,
her abdomen was slashed open, and one eye socket was damaged.
She had been there for several months and her clothing was
missing. Kalenik could have been responsible for this one, whose
identity remained unknown, since he was free at the time, but
not the next one, found on October 20.
She had been murdered approximately three days earlier, while
Kalenik was in custody. He definitely did not kill her, but her
wounds were similar to those of the other victims. Whoever had
killed her was growing bolder and more frenzied in his surgical
removal of parts. This victim was entirely disemboweled, and the
missing organs were nowhere to be found. However, her eyes
remained intact. She might not be part of the series, although
she did ride the trains. Perhaps the killer had changed his
method or had been interrupted.
Four weeks later and not far away from that site, a set of
skeletal remains was found in the woods. Her death was estimated
to have occurred some time during the summer, and her eyes had
been gouged out.
It wasn't long before the 10th unsolved murder turned up, just
after the turn of the year into 1984. This one was a boy, found
near the railroad tracks. He was identified as Sergei Markov, a
14-year-old boy missing since December 27. For the first time,
thanks to winter's preservative effects, the detectives, led by
Mikhail Fetisov, were able to see just what the killer did to
these young people.
He had stabbed the boy in the neck dozens of times?the final
count would be 70?and he had then cut into the boy's genitals
and removed everything from the pubic area. In addition, he had
violated his victim anally. Then it appeared that he had gone to
a spot nearby to have a bowel movement.
Clearly the jailed Kalenik was not responsible and the maniac
who was perpetrating these crimes was still very much at large.
In their rush to close these cases, the police had made a
Fetisov decided to retrace the boy's steps on the day he had
disappeared. Beginning in a town called Gukovo, where the boy
had lived and from where he had gone that day, he boarded the
elechtrichka, or local train. In the same town was a home for
the mentally retarded and the teachers there reported that a
former student, Mikhail Tyapin, 23, had left around the same
time as the boy and had taken the train. He was a very large
young man and barely knew how to talk. Once again, the police
got a confession.
Tyapin and his friend, Aleksandr Ponomaryev, said they had met
Markov, had lured him to the woods, and killed him. They had
also left their excrement. Tyapin, in particular, had numerous
violent fantasies, and he claimed credit for several other
unsolved murders in the area. But he never mentioned the damage
done to the eyes. And he and Ponomaryev confessed to two murders
that were proven to have been done by someone else.
The police were now thoroughly confused, and Fetisov had some
doubts, while Burakov felt certain they had not apprehended the
killer they were after. All of the so-called confessions were
flawed. He believed that only one person was involved, that this
person was a loner and not part of a gang, and that he was
clearly demented in some subtly perceivable way.
Then they had their first piece of good evidence. The medical
examiner found semen in Markov's anus. He had been raped and the
perpetrator had ejaculated. When they apprehended the killer,
they could compare the blood antigens. This would not afford a
precise match, but could at least eliminate suspects. In fact,
it eliminated all of the young men who had confessed thus far.
They all had the wrong type of blood. But then the lab issued
another report, claiming it had mixed up the sample. The type
did indeed match that of Mikhail Tyapin. That meant that the
odds were good that they had Markov's killer. Yet bodies still
Possible Leads in the Chikatilo Case
In 1984, numerous victims were discovered in wooded areas, some
of them quite close to where previous bodies had lain before
being discovered and removed. The first one found after
Typapin's arrest was a woman who had been slashed up in the same
frenzy as previous victims. Yet her eyes were intact and one new
item was added: a finger had been removed. They also had one
more piece of evidence: a shoeprint left in the mud, size 13. On
the victim's clothing were traces of semen and blood. She was
soon identified as an 18-year-old girl who had been seen at the
bus station with a boy who worked nearby. When questioned, he
had an alibi.
The medical examiner's report returned three significant facts:
she'd had pubic lice, her stomach contained undigested food, and
there was no semen inside her. The killer apparently had
masturbated over her. It was also possible that, given her state
of poverty, she had been lured away with the promise of a meal.
The police checked pharmacies for anyone purchasing lice
treatments, but they came up empty-handed.
One thing they did discover was that this woman had a friend who
had been missing since 1982. Matching dental records to skulls
from various remains, they managed to identify their second
victim in the series. That linked two of the victims together,
one of whom had her eye sockets slashed and the other who did
Another suspect was caught and he confessed, but Burakov was
looking for a certain personality type, and no one thus far
seemed to come close. He spoke out to officials and was rebuked.
His opinion also divided the task force into factions, helped
along by the fact that the crime lab could not give them a
definitive answer as to whether semen samples found on two
victims were from the same person. They brought in a forensic
scientist from the Moscow lab, who did better. They were type
AB, she said, and with that, she eliminated their entire list of
suspects. None of the confessions gathered thus far were any
good and the killer was still at large.
He struck that March in Novoshakhtinsk, grabbing 10-year-old
Dmitri Ptashnikov, who was found three days later, mutilated and
stabbed. The tip of his tongue and his penis were missing. The
semen on his shirt linked him to the previous two crimes where
semen was found. Near this body was a large footprint. This
time, however, there were witnesses. The boy was seen following
a tall, hollow-cheeked man with stiff knees and large feet,
wearing glasses. Yet no one had recognized him. Someone else had
seen a white car.
Then a 17-year-old, Lyudmila Alekseyeva, was found slashed 39
times with a kitchen knife, and leads went nowhere, wasting time
and resources. Soon there was another victim, and then another
close by. One was a girl, killed with a hammer, the other a
woman stabbed many times with a knife. Mother and daughter, they
had died at the same time.
By the end of that summer in 1984, authorities counted 24
victims that were probably murdered by the same man. Whenever
semen was left behind, it proved to have the same AB antigen.
There was also a single gray hair on one victim, which seemed to
be from a man, and some scraps of clothing near a boy that
failed to match his clothes. Lourie writes that the killer had
shifted his pattern somewhat that year. He now removed the upper
lip, and sometimes the nose, and left them in the victim's mouth
or ripped-open stomach.
With no witnesses, little physical evidence, and no way to know
how this man was leading his victims off alone, the police felt
the investigation was out of control. This killer had stepped up
his pace from five victims the first year (they believed) to
something like one every two weeks. Surely he would eventually
make a mistake. They had no way of knowing as yet that they had
not found the earliest murders and it would be some time before
the killing spree was stopped. This man did not make many
Suspects in the Andrei Chikatilo Case
With all the surveillance, it was inevitable that certain
suspicious men would be followed and detained, and this
procedure produced two suspects, each of which was interesting
for different reasons. One appeared to be the man they were
after and the other became an informant.
The Minister of the Interior appointed a dozen new detectives to
the case, and a task force of some 200 men and women became
involved in the investigation. Burakov was appointed to head
this team. That got him closer to leads as they came in. It also
shouldered him with the heavy responsibility of forming a good
plan to stop this killer. People were assigned to work
undercover at bus and train stations, and to wander the parks.
According to Cullen, they decided that they were looking for a
man between 25 and 30, tall, well built, with type AB blood. He
was careful and had at least average intelligence, and was
probably verbally persuasive. He traveled and lived with either
his mother or a wife. He might be a former psychiatric patient,
or a substance abuser, and he might have some knowledge of
anatomy and skill with a knife. Anyone who generally matched
these characteristics would have to submit to a blood test.
The press was not allowed to carry stories about the links among
these crimes, only to ask for witnesses concerning one or
another of the murders. No warnings were given to parents to
protect their children or to young women out alone.
One undercover officer spotted an older man in the Rostov bus
station. He spoke to a female adolescent and when she got on her
bus, he circled around and sat next to another young woman. This
was suspicious behavior, so Major Zanasovsky thought it was time
to question him. The man's name was Andrei Chikatilo and he was
the manager of a machinery supply company. He was there on a
business trip, but lived in Shakhty. As to why he was
approaching young women, he admitted that he'd once been a
teacher and he missed talking to young people. The officer let
However, he spotted Chikatilo again and followed him, boarding
the same bus he got on in order to watch him. "He seemed very
ill at ease," Zanasovsky's report states, "and was always
twisting his head from one side to another."
He followed Chikatilo into another bus and saw him accost
various women. When Chikatilo solicited a prostitute and
received oral sex under his coat, they arrested him for indecent
behavior in public and went through his briefcase. Inside were a
jar of Vaseline, a long kitchen knife, a piece of rope and a
dirty towel—nothing suggestive of business dealings.
Zanasovsky believed he had the lesopolosa killer. He urged the
procurator to come and interrogate the man. Chikatilo's blood
was drawn and it was type A, not AB. He was also a member of the
Communist Party, with good character references. There was
nothing in his background to raise suspicion. Nevertheless, they
kept him in jail for a couple of days to see if sitting in a
cell might pressure him into a confession.
He denied everything, although he admitted to "sexual weakness,"
and was finally released. He was later arrested again for petty
thefts at work and he served three months in prison. Still, he
did not have the right blood type, so he was not their killer.
Burakov decided to breach protocol and consult with psychiatric
experts in Moscow. He wanted to know what they thought of the
idea of a single person killing women and children of both
genders. Most were either uninterested or refused to say much,
due to insufficient detail. However, one psychiatrist, Alexandr
Bukhanovsky, agreed to study the few known details, as well as
the crime scene patterns, to come up with a profile. He read
everything he could find, specialized in sexual pathologies and
schizophrenia, and was willing to take risks. This case, unusual
as it was, interested him. He came up with a seven-page report.
The killer, he said, was a sexual deviate, between 25 and 50
years old, around 5'10" tall. He thought the man suffered from
some form of sexual inadequacy and he blinded his victims to
prevent them from looking at him. He also brutalized their
corpses, partly out of frustration and partly to enhance his
arousal. He was a sadist and had difficulty getting relief
without cruelty. Often sadists like to inflict superficial
wounds, as was evident on many of these victims. He was also
compulsive, following the goading of his need, and would be
depressed until he could kill. He might even have headaches. He
was not retarded or schizophrenic. He could work out a plan and
follow it. He was a loner and he was the only offender involved.
Burakov got two other opinions, one of which insisted there were
two killers, and he felt that no one had given him anything that
brought him closer to closing the case. He was still frustrated.
Working with the idea that the killer had a sexual dysfunction,
the dogged investigator looked up records of men convicted of
homosexual crimes and came across Valery Ivanenko, who had
committed several acts of "perversion" and who had claimed he
was psychotic. He also had a charismatic personality and once
had been a teacher. At age 46, he was tall and wore glasses.
He'd been brought to the psychiatric institute in Rostov but had
escaped. In short, he sounded too good to be true. He was the
Staking out the apartment of the man's invalid mother, Burakov
caught and arrested him. But his blood was type A which
eliminated him as the killer. In a deal, Burakov enlisted his
assistance investigating the gay population in return for his
release. Ivanenko proved to be quite good at getting secret
information, which in turn led to others providing even more
information under pressure. Burakov soon knew quite a bit about
Rostov's underworld, from perversion to violence.
Yet Burakov still felt as if he was just going toward more dead
ends. The gay men that he investigated just did not strike him
as having the right personality disorder for these crimes. He
began to come around to Bukhanovsky's view that this killer was
heterosexual but probably impotent when it came to normal sexual
relations. He needed more details.
Pressure was on to solve the crimes that had happened already,
but over the next 10 months only one more body turned up—a young
woman—but she was killed near Moscow. The killer may have moved
or traveled there, but they just couldn't tell. They wondered if
the killer had left the area or been arrested. Perhaps he had
died. Then a body was found in August of 1985. She bore
similarities to the others and she lay near an airport.
Burakov went to Moscow to look at the photos of the dead girl.
It was so similar to his recent victim in Rostov that he knew
the killer had gone to Moscow for some reason. He checked the
flight rosters between Moscow and the airport where their victim
had been found, and had officers go painstakingly through all
the handwritten tickets. But they failed to discover a
significant clue right under their noses.
Then detectives in Moscow put together a series of murders of
young boys that had begun when the Rostov killings had stopped.
All three had been raped and one was decapitated.
But the Rostov crew was quickly drawn back to Shakhty. In a tree
grove near the bus depot, a homeless, 18-year-old girl lay dead,
her mouth stuffed with leaves. This was the same signature as
the girl in Moscow earlier that month. She had a red and a blue
thread under her fingernails, and sweat near her wounds that
typed AB—different from her own type O blood. Between her
fingers was a single strand of gray hair—similar to one of the
earlier murders. This was the most evidence left at a crime
scene thus far. The detectives believed they would break this
In fact they did find a good suspect who had also been
implicated with a previous victim, and he did confess (after 10
days of intense interrogation), but to Burakov, it did not sound
right. Nor could the suspect take them to the correct murder
site. Once again, frustratingly so, he was not their man.
special procurator with one serial killer investigation behind
him, Chief Investigator Issa Kostoyev, was appointed to look
into the lesopolosa murders. By this time, they had 15
procurators and 29 detectives involved. Many of them were
watching train and bus stations for suspicious activity. The
female officials worked undercover to try to lure men to talk to
them. Kostoyev looked over the work done thus far and felt it
had not proceeded well. In fact, he believed they'd already come
across the man they were after and just hadn't known it. This
did nothing to improve the already-low morale of the
To try to learn more about the type of killer who would be so
raw and brutal, Kostoyev had the classic nineteenth-century work
on sexual predators by Richard von Krafft-Ebing translated into
Russian. He also discovered a rare edition of Crimes and
Criminals in Western Culture, by B. Utevsky, which included a
chapter detailing cases of dismemberment and disfiguring of
victims. He saw that some killers were driven merely by
arrogance and the idea that their victims were objects that
belonged to them to do with as they pleased. Kostoyev stored
this information away to use when they found more suspects.
In the meantime, Yuri Kalenik was still in prison awaiting the
completion of the investigation on him, which was now delayed by
investigators looking into other areas. One of these leads
produced yet a fifth false confession. Something was clearly
wrong with the process, and Kostoyev was furious. He did not
believe that Yuri was guilty of anything.
Burakov turned again to Dr. Bukhanovsky, finally allowing him to
see all of the crime scene reports so he could write a more
detailed profile. This, he thought, might help them to narrow
the leads. Bukhanovsky took all of the materials and spent
months of his own time writing 65 pages devoted to what made
sense to him from his work with gay men, sexual dysfunction,
necrophiles and necrosadists. He labeled the unknown suspect
The details, in brief, were the following: X was not psychotic,
because he was in control of what he did and he was clearly
self-interested. He was narcissistic and arrogant, considering
himself gifted, although he was not unduly intelligent. He had a
plan but he was not creative. He was heterosexual, with boys
being a "vicarious surrogate." He was a necrosadist, needing to
watch people die in order to achieve sexual gratification.
To render them helpless, he would hit them in the head.
Afterward, the multiple stabbing was a way to "enter" them
sexually. He either sat astride them or squatted next to them,
getting as close as possible. The deepest cuts represented the
height of his pleasure, and he might masturbate, either
spontaneously or with his hand.
There were many reasons why he might cut out the eyes, and
nothing in the crime scenes suggested what actually motivated X.
He might be excited by eyes or fear them. He might believe his
image was left on them, a superstition held by some. Cutting
into the sexual organs was a manifestation of power over women.
He might keep the missing organs or he might eat them. Removing
the sexual organs from the boys might be a way to neutralize
them and make them appear more female.
An interesting twist was the hypothesis that X responded to
changes in weather patterns. Before most of the murders, the
barometer had dropped. That might be his trigger, especially if
it coincided with other stressors at home or work. Most of the
killings were also done mid-week, from Tuesday to Thursday.
While he was vague about height and occupation, he now thought
X's age was between 45 and 50, the age at which sexual
perversions often are most developed. It was likely that he'd
had a difficult childhood. He was conflicted and probably kept
to himself. He had a rich fantasy life, but an abnormal response
to sexuality. Bukhanovsky could not say whether or not the man
was married or had fathered children, but if he was married, his
wife let him keep his own hours and did not ask much of him.
His killing was compulsive and might stop temporarily if he
sensed he was in danger of discovery, but would not stop
altogether until he died or was caught.
Despite the length and detail of this psychological report,
Burakov found nothing practical in it to help him find the man.
Then he consulted with someone who was much closer to these
types of crimes: Anatoly Slivko, a man convicted of the sexual
murder of seven boys, who faced execution. The police wanted
this man to explain to them the workings of the mind of a serial
killer. Slivko attributed his actions to his inability to engage
in normal sexual arousal and satisfaction. Sexual murderers have
endless fantasies through which they set up the rules of
behavior and feel a demand for action, and the act of planning
their crimes has its own satisfaction. He offered nothing
practical for the investigation in what he said, but his manner
under questioning showed them a compartmentalized mind that
could kill boys and still feel morally indignant about using
alcohol in front of children. That meant he could live in a way
that hid his true propensities. Only hours after the interview,
Slivko was executed.
The investigators believed that X was very much like Slivko, and
that meant he would be next to impossible to catch.
But then, oddly, the killing seemed to stop.
Frustrations in the Andrei Chikatilo Case
Only one dead woman turned up in 1985 in Rostov, and nothing
happened that winter or the next spring. Then on July 23, the
body of a 33-year-old female turned up, but it bore none of the
markings of the serial killer, except that she had been
repeatedly stabbed. Burakov had doubts about her being in the
series, but not so with the young woman found on August 18. All
of the disturbing wounds were present, but she had been mostly
buried, save for a hand sticking out of the dirt—a new twist.
Now they had to wonder whether there were others not yet found
who were also under the earth.
The handwriting experts finally gave up on the Black Cat
postcard, and the police could go no farther with the 14
suspects on the list so far, all of whom Burakov believed could
be eliminated. He created a comprehensive booklet to give out to
other police departments, and a card file was created to keep
track of new leads. He and his team were dogged by the fear that
this case might never be solved.
At the end of 1986 Viktor Burakov finally had a nervous
breakdown. He was weak and exhausted, and could not sleep, so he
went to a hospital, where he remained for a month. Then he was
sent to rest for another month. Four years of intense work had
come to this. But he would not give up.
He had no idea then that he was only halfway there. This devil
was not yet finished.
Burakov's period of rest, however, had given him some
perspective. He'd been able to think over their strategies thus
far and felt that none was taking them down the correct route.
Not only that, all were time- and resource-consuming. He might
only catch this killer if he surfaced again—in other words,
murdered someone. It was a grim thought, but it could be their
Yet nothing occurred for the rest of that year or throughout all
The winter melted into spring before a railroad worker found a
woman's nude body in a weedy area near the tracks on April 6,
1988. Her hands were bound behind her, she had been stabbed
multiple times, the tip of her nose was gone, and her skull had
been bashed in. Only a large footprint was found nearby. People
recalled seeing her but she had been alone. There was no sign of
sexual assault and her eyes had not been touched. Nor had she
been killed in the woods.
The investigators pondered whether they should include this
murder in the series. Perhaps the lesopolosa killer was no
longer in business. Yet only a month later, on May 17, the body
of a 9-year-old boy was discovered in the woods not far from a
train station. He'd been sodomized and then his orifices were
stuffed with dirt. He also bore numerous knife wounds and a blow
to the skull, and his penis had been removed.
Unlike the murdered female, the boy was quickly identified as
Aleksei Voronko, missing for two days. A classmate had seen him
with a middle-aged man with gold teeth, a mustache and a sports
bag. They had gone together to the woods and Aleksei had said he
would soon return but did not.
This was a strong lead, one that could be followed up among area
dentists. Few adults in the region could afford gold crowns for
Yet by the end of that year, they had turned up nothing. Not
only that, they learned from the Ministry of Health that it had
been a mistake to assume that typing blood in secretions was an
accurate match to blood types (or, alternatively, to assume that
the labs were providing accurate results). There were rare
"paradoxical" cases in which they did not match. In other words,
any of the suspects eliminated based on blood type could have
been their killer. While this was frustrating news and made the
investigation more difficult in many ways, it also opened a few
doors from the past. However, it meant taking semen samples
(which had to be voluntary), not blood types, and it also meant
redoing four years worth of work to that point. The idea was
The only method of investigation that seemed viable now was to
post more men to watch the public transportation stations.
Still, the killer did not strike. It was April 1989 before they
came across another victim who could be added to the lesopolosa
The Count Rises
This discovery, in the woods near a train station, was that of a
16-year-old boy reported missing since the summer before. His
killer had stabbed him repeatedly and had removed his testicles
and penis. He was badly decomposed and had lain under the snow
for months. A watch, inscribed from his aunt and uncle, was
missing. It would help immensely if it was found in someone's
None of the investigators assigned to ride the trains and watch
people in the stations in that area had reported anything
suspicious. No older men with boys or women. However, a ticket
clerk reported that she had seen a man that summer on the
platform. He had tried to convince her son to go into the words
with him. The police did locate him, but quickly eliminated him
as the killer they were seeking.
However, Yuri Kalenik had been released from prison after
serving five years and he now lived near the area where the body
was found. Perhaps they had been hasty in releasing him. When
questioned, he insisted he knew nothing, so they let him go.
Then on May 11, an 8-year-old boy disappeared. He was found two
months later by the side of a road, stabbed and genitally
mutilated. This change in the killer's habits, from the woods to
out in the open, alerted the officials to the possibility that
he might have noticed all the surveillance at the train stations
and changed his manner of procuring victims.
That was disturbing. Yet killing someone so near a road was also
careless. That could be a hopeful sign. Even the most organized
killer can disintegrate as need replaces caution.
Then he killed a Hungarian student, Elena Varga, in August, in a
wooded area that was far from any train or bus station. Her body
had been violated like all the other female victims in the
In just over a week, the fourth victim, a 10-year-old boy,
Aleksei Khobotov, went missing, and four months later, early in
1990, the sexually mutilated body of an 11-year-old boy turned
up in a lesopolosa. Then another 10-year-old boy was killed, his
sexual organs cut off, and his tongue missing. It appeared to
have been bitten off.
Once more, the killer shifted his pattern and went for a female
victim, and at the end of July in 1990, workmen found a
13-year-old boy, Victor Petrov, killed and mutilated in the
They now had what they believed were 32 victims over the past
eight years and the newspapers, now free to report this news
after the loosening of government control, were putting pressure
on the investigators. Those in the top positions threatened
those on lower rungs with being fired. This killer had to be
stopped. People were getting desperate.
Then on August 17 Ivan Fomin, 11, went swimming not far from his
grandmother's cottage. In the tall reeds not far from numerous
potential witnesses who should have heard if not seen him, the
serial killer had stabbed him 42 times and castrated him. This
was outrageous and the public was getting angry.
Burakov decided on a new plan. He would select the most likely
stations and then make surveillance obvious in the others, so
that only those with plainclothes officers would seem safe to
the killer. In other words, they would try to force him into
action in a particular place, and in those places, they would
record the names of every man who came and went. They would also
place people in the forests nearby, dressed as farmers. It was a
major task, with over 350 people who had to be in place and do
their jobs for who-knows-how-long, but it seemed viable.
It seemed that the train station in Donleskhoz station might be
a good place to set up a post, for example, since two of the
victims had been found near there. Mushroom pickers generally
used it during the summer, but not many other people. Two other
stations were selected as well.
But even before the plan was enacted, the killer chose a victim
from the Donleskhoz station. He killed a 16-year-old retarded
boy, stabbing him 27 times and mutilating him before discarding
his clothes. Part of his tongue was missing, as were his
testicles, and one eye had been stabbed. When his identity was
established, officers learned that he spent most of his time on
the electrichka, the slow-moving train, but no one had seen him
exit with anyone.
Burokov was in despair. They had a good plan and had it been in
place, they might have caught the guy.
Then another 16-year-old boy, Victor Tishchenko, was reported
missing who had gone to the Shakhty railroad station to pick up
tickets. Cullen writes that the handsome, athletic Tishcenko was
larger than any other male victim thus far, weighing around 130
pounds. They found his body two miles south, in the woods and in
the usual condition. It was where the mother and daughter had
been found six years earlier. In the grove, there was evidence
of a prolonged struggle.
Burakov got moving. The snare was set, with everyone in place,
but the killer killed again, undetected. This time, his victim
was a young woman. She was number 36, and she had been beaten
and sliced open, and part of her tongue cut off. But no one had
seen a thing.
Yet there were reports of men who had been at the train station
nearby. One name stood out. In fact, they were chilled by it.
They had seen this one before. To that point, according to Moira
Martingale in Cannibal Killers, over half a million people had
been investigated, but this one had been interrogated before and
only released because his blood type had not matched the semen
And they knew the lab work had been faulty. This was the killer.
They were sure of it.
Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo, 54, had been at the Donleskhoz
train station on November 6. He had been questioned and cleared
in 1984. He had now been placed at the scene of a victim's
disappearance. He was seen coming out of the woods and had
washed his hands at a pump. He also had a red smear on his cheek
and ear, a cut finger, and twigs on the back of his coat. The
officer at the station had taken down his name.
Burakov had the man placed under surveillance. They soon learned
that he had resigned from his post as a teacher due to reports
that he had molested students. He had then worked for another
enterprise, but was fired when he failed to return from business
trips with the supplies he was sent to get. So what had he been
doing with his time? During the time he had spent in jail in
1984, there had been no murders, and his travel records
coincided with other murders—including the one in Moscow. He
once had been a member in good standing with the Communist
Party, but had been expelled due to his incarceration.
But all the evidence was circumstantial. Investigators would
need to catch him in the act or get him to confess. Keeping him
under surveillance, they saw an ordinary man doing nothing
unusual. It was frustrating. Kostoyev, who had finally read the
earlier report on this man, ordered his arrest.
On November 20, 1990, three officers dressed in street clothes
brought Chikatilo in for interrogation, and they noticed that he
did not have a mouth full of gold teeth as one witness had
indicated. They learned that he was married and had two
children, and that he was something of an intellectual with a
university degree. In his satchel they found a folding
They placed Chikatilo in a cell with a gifted informant, who was
expected to get him to admit to what he had done, but failed. A
search of Chikatilo's home, which shamed his family, produced no
evidence from victims, but did yield 23 knives. Two writers have
claimed these weapons were used for the murders, but that was
The next day, Kostoyev decided to handle the interrogation, and
he did so in the presence of Chikatilo's court-appointed lawyer.
Richard Lourie based much of his book, Hunting the Devil, on the
time that Kostoyev spent with Chikatilo. Contrary to other
versions of this narrative that show him to be an angry and
impatient interrogator, Lourie says that Kostoyev had decided to
use compassion to get the suspect to talk.
He wanted the room to be spare, with only a safe inside that
would hint to the prisoner of evidence against him. There was
also a desk, a table, and two chairs. When Chikatilo was brought
in, Kostoyev could see that he was a tall, older man with a long
neck, sloping shoulders, oversized glasses, and gray hair. He
used a shuffling gait, like a weary elderly person, but Kostoyev
was not fooled. He believed Chikatilo was a calculating killer
with plenty of energy when he needed it. Chikatilo looked easy
to break, and Kostoyev had only failed to obtain a confession in
three out of hundreds of interrogations. He would get inside the
suspect's head, figure out his logic, and get him to talk. All
guilty men eventually confessed. They had to. Besides, he had 10
days in which to succeed, and he had bait.
Chikatilo began with a statement that the police had made a
mistake, just as they had in 1984 when he'd first been
investigated. He denied that he had been at a train station on
November 6 and did not know why it had been reported. Kostoyev
knew he was lying, and he let Chikatilo know that. The next day,
Chikatilo waived his right to legal counsel.
Then Chikatilo wrote a three-page document to which he confessed
to "sexual weakness"—the words he had used before—and to years
of humiliation. He hinted at "perverse sexual activity" but did
not name it, and said that he was out of control. He admitted to
nothing specific. But he wrote another, longer essay in which he
said that he did move around in the train stations and saw how
young people there were the victims of homeless beggars. He also
admitted that he was impotent. It appeared to be an indirect
confession, feeling guilt but fending it off by fingering other
suspects and also hinting at how it was best that some of these
beggars had died rather than reproduce. Nevertheless, he
mentioned that he had thought of suicide.
Kostoyev told him that his only hope would be to confess
everything in a way that would show he had mental problems, so
that an examination could affirm that he was legally insane and
he could be treated. Otherwise the evidence they had would
surely convict him without a confession and he would have no
hope to save himself. That was Kostoyev's bait, and he felt sure
it would be effective.
Chikatilo asked for a few days to collect himself and said he
would then submit to an interrogation. Everyone expected that he
would confess, but when the day arrived, he insisted he was
guilty of no crimes. For each crucial time period involving a
murder, he claimed that he had been at home with his wife.
Clearly he had used the extra two days alone in his cell to
become more resolved.
The next day, he revised his statements somewhat. In fact, he
had been involved in some criminal activity—but not the murders.
In 1977, he had fondled some female students who had aroused
him. He had difficulty controlling himself around children, but
there were only two instances in which he had lost control.
He wrote again, but again revealed nothing, and nine days
elapsed with Kostoyev getting no closer to his goal. He did not
know what approach to take to pressure this man to finally open
medical examination indicated that Chikatilo's blood type was A,
but his semen supposedly had a weak B antibody, making it appear
that his blood type was AB, though it wasn't. He was the
"paradoxical" rare case—if such an analysis could be believed.
The informant in Chikatilo's cell, writes Cullen, eventually
told Burakov that the interrogation techniques were not
according to protocol and that they were rough and made
Chikatilo defensive. It was unlikely they were going to work.
Kostoyev brought in photographers to humiliate Chikatilo and
pressure him to believe that they had witnesses to whom they
were going to show these photographs. Still, he did not give any
Nine days had elapsed. They were allowed only 10 before having
to charge him with a specific crime, and thus far, they did not
have enough proof of even one. It was looking very much like
they might have to let him go. And that could be disastrous.
Burakov, says Cullen, thought they should try another
interrogator, and his candidate was Dr. Bukhanovsky. Cullen also
says that Kostoyev initially resisted this idea, but finally had
to admit he was getting nowhere. He agreed to let the
psychiatrist see what he could do. Lourie, presenting things
from Kostoyev's side, says that using the psychiatrist was one
of Kostoyev's clever ploys. Lourie does not mention Burakov's
role in the decision.
Whoever thought of it, this was clearly a wise move.
The Psychiatrist and the Murderer
Bukhanovsky agreed to question Chikatilo, but out of
professional interest, not for the court. Burakov agreed to
these conditions. Bukhanovsky was soon in a closed room alone
with the best suspect in the lesopolosa murders.
The psychiatrist saw right away, writes Cullen, that this was
the type of man that he had described in his 1987 profile. So
many of the indicators were there—ordinary, solitary,
non-threatening. He introduced himself with a show of humility
and then showed Chikatilo the profile. He sensed that this man
wanted to talk about his rage and his humiliation, so it was
best to show sympathy and listen. He spent two hours doing that,
and then began to discuss the crimes.
In the film, Citizen X, Bukhanovsky is shown asking Chikatilo to
help him on some aspects of the profile that he was not quite
certain about. He reads the relevant pages to him, and one sees
Chikatilo listening intently, as if alert to the only person who
seems ever to have understood him. Bukhanovsky's description
goes into the nature of Chikatilo's mental illness and some
reasons for it. As Chikatilo hears his secret life described so
clearly, he begins to tremble. Finally he affirms what the
psychiatrist is saying, breaks down and admits that it's all
true. He has done those horrible things.
Bukhanovsky talked with him for hours and then went out and told
police interrogators that the suspect was now ready to confess.
Kostoyev prepared a formal statement accusing Chikatilo of 36
murders. He was off by a long shot, but no one yet knew that.
Chikatilo read the statement of charges and admitted that he was
guilty of the crimes listed. He wanted now to tell the truth
about his life and what had led him into these crimes. Among his
admissions was his first murder, which had occurred not when the
police had first begun to keep track with Lyubov Biryuk but
years early in 1978. He had killed a little girl, Yelena
Zakotnova, age 9.
This was alarming, since a man had already been arrested, tried
and executed for that murder. But Chikatilo said that he had
moved to Shakhty that year to teach. Before his family arrived,
his free time was spent watching children and feeling a strong
desire to see them without their clothes on. To maintain his
privacy, he purchased a hut on a dark, dirty street. When he
went to it one day, he came upon the girl, was seized with
urgent sexual desire, and took her to the hut to attack her.
When he could not achieve an erection, he had moved in imitation
of the sexual act and used his knife as a substitute. During his
frenzy of strangulation and stabbing, he blindfolded her. Once
she was dead, he tossed her body into a nearby river. Lourie
devotes a chapter to the fact that he was a suspect, seen by a
witness, and that blood was found on his doorstep, but the other
man had confessed under torture, so Chikatilo was free.
Chikatilo was shocked to nearly have been caught.
Kostoyev asked him to explain the blindfold, and just as they
had suspected, Chikatilo admitted that he had heard that the
image of a killer remains in the eyes of a victim. It was a
superstition, but he had believed it. That was why he had
wounded so many others in the eyes. Then he had decided it was
not true, so he stopped doing that (explaining the change in
pattern). Later he admitted that he just had not liked his
victims looking at him as he attacked them.
Lourie describes how Chikatilo hated to see how vagrants at
train stations went off into the woods for sexual encounters
that he could never emulate. His fantasies became more violent.
In 1981, he repeated his manner of attack on a vagrant girl
looking for money, but he also used his teeth on her to bite off
a nipple and swallow it. "At the moment of cutting her and
seeing the body cut open," he said, "I involuntarily
ejaculated." He covered her with newspaper and took her sexual
organs away with him, only to cast them aside in the woods.
He remembered the details of each of the 36 lesopolosa murders
and went through them, one by one. Sometimes he acted as a
predator, learning someone's routes and habits and finding a way
to get that person alone. Others were victims of opportunity who
happened along at the wrong time. The stabbing almost always was
a substitute for sexual intercourse that could not be performed.
He had learned how to squat beside them in such a way as to
avoid getting their blood on his clothing (which he demonstrated
with a mannequin). At any rate, he worked in a shipping firm, so
there was always an excuse for a scrape or cut. It seemed that
his impotence generally triggered the rage, especially if the
women made demands or ridiculed him. He soon understood that he
could not get aroused without violence. "I had to see blood and
wound the victims."
With the boys, it was different, although they bled just as
easily as women and that's what he needed most. Chikatilo would
fantasize that these boys were his captives and that he was a
hero for torturing and doing them in. He could not give a reason
for cutting off their tongues and penises, although at one point
he said he was taking revenge against life on the genitals of
his victims. Lourie says, based on the psychiatric reports, that
Chikatilo would place his semen inside a uterus that he had just
removed and as he walked along, he would chew on it—"the truffle
of sexual murder." He never admitted to actually consuming these
organs, but searches never turned up any discarded remains.
"But the whole thing," Chikatilo said, "—the cries, the blood,
the agony—gave me relaxation and a certain pleasure." He liked
the taste of their blood and would even tear at their mouths
with his teeth. He said it gave him an "animal satisfaction" to
chew or swallow nipples or testicles.
To corroborate what he was saying, he drew sketches of the crime
scenes, and what he said fit the known facts. Then he confirmed
what everyone had feared—he added more victims to the list. Many
One boy he had killed in a cemetery and placed in a shallow
grave—a hole, he said, that he had dug for himself when he had
contemplated suicide. He took the interrogators there and they
recovered the body. Another was killed in a field, and she was
located. On and on it went, murders here and there, and the
bodies were always left right where they were killed, except for
one. Chikatilo described a murder in an empty apartment and to
get the body out, he had to dismember it and dump the parts down
a sewer. The police had wondered whether this one was part of
the series and had decided that there were too many
dissimilarities to include it.
In the end, he confessed to 56 murders (Lourie counts it as 55),
although there was corroboration for only 53: 31 females and 22
males. Burakov, says Cullen, believed that there might actually
They now had sufficient evidence to take this man to court. In
the meantime, they discovered more about him.
The Roots of Perversity
He was born in 1936 into a small Ukrainian village and his head
was misshapen from water on the brain. He had a sister seven
years younger. His father was a POW in WWII and then was sent to
a prison camp in Russia, so his mother raised him mostly on her
In the HBO documentary, "Cannibal" and in Moira Martingale's
book Cannibal Killers, some of Chikatilo's background is
described in a chilling context as a way to try to understand
what drove him into such a bestial frenzy. In fact, Martingale
sees a direct connection between those times and Chikatilo's
sexual fantasies. He was like a werewolf, changing into a
ravaging animal when triggered in just the right way. Much of
this information came from the confession, the assessments done
later, and from investigative research.
During the early part of the twentieth century, the former
Soviet Union was often subjected to famines, especially in the
Ukraine after Stalin crushed out private agriculture and sent
many citizens to the Siberian Gulag. Some six million people
died of starvation, according to Cullen, and desperate people
might remove meat from corpses to survive. Sometimes they went
to a cemetery, where corpses were stacked, and sometimes (legend
has it) they grabbed someone on the street. Human flesh was
bought and sold, or just hoarded.
Children saw disfigured corpses and heard terrible tales of
hardship. Chikatilo had grown up during several of these famines
and one story that his mother told was how he once had had an
older brother, Stepan, who had been killed. In a prison
interview, he said, "Many people went crazy, attacked people,
ate people. So they caught my brother, who was 10, and ate him."
He might simply have died and been consumed, if he even existed
(which could not be corroborated in any records), but
Chikatilo's mother would warn him to stay in the yard or he
might get eaten as well. It was a scary idea, but titillating.
He also saw the results of Nazi occupation and of German
bombing, with bodies blown up in the streets. He said that they
frightened and excited him.
Most of his childhood was spent alone, living in his fantasies.
Other children mocked him for his awkwardness and sensitivity.
He began to develop anger at this age, even rage. To entertain
and empower himself, he devised images of torture, and these
remained a fixed part of his killings later in life.
He had his first sexual experience as an adolescent when he
struggled with a 10-year-old friend of his sister's and
ejaculated. That impressed itself on him, especially as he went
along in life unable to get an erection but able to ejaculate.
The struggle became as fixed in his mind as the images of
He went into the army but when he came home and tried to have a
girlfriend, he found he was still unable to perform the sexual
act. The girl spread this around, humiliating him, and he
dreamed about catching her and tearing her to pieces. His life,
as far as he could see, was now a disaster.
He became a schoolteacher and did get married (which was
arranged by his sister), but could only conceive children,
according to the HBO documentary, by ejaculating outside his
wife and pushing his semen inside by hand. Much like his mother,
his wife was critical, which only made Chikatilo withdraw even
further into his fantasy world. His mother died in 1973 when he
was 37, and it wasn't long before he found himself attracted to
young girls and began to molest them. It made him feel powerful,
and when incidents were reported, they were met with cover-up
and denial instead of prosecution, allowing a pervert to become
For true satisfaction, he needed to get violent, and by 1978, he
killed his first victim. Since he was on the road quite often as
a parts supply liaison, it became easy to find vulnerable
strangers, dominate them and murder them. He didn't have to go
looking for them, he said. They were always right there and they
were usually willing to follow him. He had read the newspaper
reports about the murders when the press was allowed to print
them and had known it was only a matter of time before it would
all end. Being arrested, he admitted, was a relief.
Chikatilo believed he suffered from an illness that provoked his
uncontrollable transgressions. He wanted to see some specialists
in sexual deviance, and said that he would answer all questions.
(Lourie says this was part of Kostoyev's plan.)
He was sent to Moscow's Serbsky Institute for two months for
psychiatric and neurological assessment, and it was determined
that he had brain damage from birth. It had affected his ability
to control his bladder and his seminal emissions. His mother
criticized him for it repeatedly, and was often cruel. He had
deviant fantasies. However, after all the reports, he was found
to be sane. He knew what he was doing and he could have
controlled it. That was good enough for the prosecutor.
The Beast in the Cage
They brought him into the Rostov courtroom on April 14, 1992,
and put him into a large iron cage painted off-white, where he
could either stand or sit. The judge sat on a dais and two
citizens on either side acted as jurors. There were 225 volumes
of information collected about him and against him.
The press wrote about "the Maniac" and spread the word about his
upcoming trial, so the courtroom, which seated 250, was filled
with the family of many of his alleged victims. When he entered,
they began to scream at him. Bald and without his glasses, he
looked slightly crazy, especially when he drooled and rolled his
eyes later in the trial.
Throughout, Chikatilo appeared to be bored, except when he'd
show a flash of anger and yell back at the crowd. On two
separate occasions, he opened his trousers and pulled them down
to expose his penis, insisting he was not a homosexual. They
removed him from the courtroom.
That he would be found guilty of murder was a foregone
conclusion, but there was a chance that his psychological
problems could save him from execution. However, his lawyer,
Marat Khabibulin, did not have the right to call psychiatric
experts, only to cross-examine those that the prosecution
brought in, and since he had not been appointed until after
Chikatilo had fully confessed, he was at a real disadvantage.
Although the prosecutors were Anatoly Zadorozhny and N. F.
Gerasimenko, Judge Leonid Akubzhanov became Chikatilo's chief
enemy, asking sharp questions of the witnesses and throwing
demeaning comments at the prisoner, who often did not respond.
After several months, however, Chikatilo challenged the judge,
claiming that he was the one in charge. "This is my funeral,"
the defendant said.
At one time, he spontaneously denied doing six of the murders
and at another, he added four new ones. He claimed to be a
victim of the former Soviet system and called himself a "mad
beast." According to Krivich and Ol'gin, he also claimed that
there should be 70 "incidents" attributed to him, not 53. At one
point, they write, when he was asked whether he had kept track
as he killed his victims, Chikatilo said, "I considered them to
be enemy aircraft I had shot down."
No one adequately addressed the fact that there was a
discrepancy between the blood type in the semen samples and
Chikatilo's blood type. The forensic analyst explained her
discovery of the rare phenomenon of a man having one blood type
but secreting another, but this hypothesis was later ridiculed
around the world. Yet with no forensic experts hired for the
defense, there was little the defense attorney could do. The
judge, with his clear bias against the defendant, accepted the
The court accepted the psychiatric diagnosis of sanity. One
psychiatrist examined him yet again and said that he was still
of the same opinion. It was Chikatilo's predatory behavior and
ability to shift to safer locales that showed his degree of
control, as well as the fact that he had stopped for over a year
at one point (a year in which he said he had celebrated his 50th
birthday and was in a good mood).
The trial went into August. The defense summed up its side by
saying that the evidence and psychiatric analyses were flawed
and the confessions had been coerced. He asked for a verdict of
The next day, Chikatilo broke into song from his cage and then
talked a string of nonsense, with accusations that he was being
"radiated." He was taken out before the prosecutor began his
final argument. He reiterated what sadism meant, repeated each
of the crimes, and asked for the death penalty.
Chikatilo was brought in and given a final opportunity to speak
for himself. He remained mute.
The judge took two months to reach a verdict, and on October 14,
six months after the trial begun, he pronounced Andrei Chikatilo
guilty of five counts of molestation and 52 counts of murder.
Then Chikatilo cried out incoherently, shouting "Swindlers,"
spitting, throwing his bench, and demanding to see the corpses.
The judge sentenced him to be executed. The people shouted for
Chikatilo to be turned over to them to be torn to pieces as he
had done to their loved ones. But instead he was taken back to
his cell to await the results of an appeal. His lawyer claimed
through official channels that the psychiatric assessment had
not been objective and he wanted further analysis.
rumor circulated that the Japanese wanted to pay $1 million for
the Maniac's brain, Lourie writes, but there was no substance to
it. Yet many professionals did believe that his behavior was so
aberrant that he should be studied alive.
This man with a university degree in Russian literature, a wife
and children, and no apparent background of child abuse, clearly
had a savage heart. As he said of himself, he was apparently "a
mistake of nature." It's unfortunate that a better
biopsychological analysis was never performed.
On February 15, 1994, when his appeal was turned down, he was
taken to a special soundproof room and shot behind the right
ear, ending his life.
Legacy of Andrei Chikatilo
Chikatilo has become one of the world's most renowned serial
killers, cited in books and articles such as Dr. Louis
Schlesinger's Serial Offenders, as a man with truly perverse
tastes and killing habits. Thanks to him, Russian specialists
can now engage in better study of serial killers and consult
with professionals like the FBI in other countries. The same can
be said for Bukhanovsky.
Newsweek published a story in 1999 about the area around
Rostov-on-Don to the effect that it was now a hotbed of serial
crimes. "Twenty-nine multiple murderers and rapists have been
caught in the area over the past ten years," writes Owen
Matthews. He claims that such a statistic makes Rostov the
serial killer capital of the world. Not only that, but Dr.
Bukhanovsky has become such an expert via his private clinic for
sexual disorders that he claims he can now cure violent
psychopaths. To prove it, he worked with an active killer still
at large—a controversial decision. He feels that he cannot break
a confidence and that his study will help science determine the
roots of aggression. A child rapist who was caught said that
Bukhanovsky had a way of getting people to tell him things they
would ordinarily keep secret. That appears to have been his
talent with Chikatilo.