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Andrei Romanovich CHIKATILO






A.K.A.: "The Butcher of Rostov" - "The Red Ripper" - "The Rostov Ripper"
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Cannibalism - Necrophilia - Evisceration - Mutilation
Number of victims: 52 - 56
Date of murders: 1978 - 1990
Date of arrest: November 20, 1990
Date of birth: October 16, 1936
Victims profile: Lena Zakotnova (9) / Larisa Tkachenko (17) / Lyubov Biryuk (13) / Lyubov Volobuyeva (14) / Oleg Pozhidayev (9) / Olga Kuprina (16) / Irina Karabelnikova (19) / Sergey Kuzmin (15) / Olga Stalmachenok (10) / Laura Sarkisyan (15) / Irina Dunenkova (13) / Lyudmila Kushuba (24) / Igor Gudkov (7) / Valentina Chuchulina (22) / Unknown woman (18-25) / Vera Shevkun (19) / Sergey Markov (14) / Natalya Shalapinina (17) / Marta Ryabenko (45) / Dmitriy Ptashnikov (10) / Tatyana Petrosyan (32) / Svetlana Petrosyan (11) / Yelena Bakulina (22) / Dmitriy Illarionov (13) / Anna Lemesheva (19) / Svetlana Tsana (20) / Natalya Golosovskaya (16) / Lyudmila Alekseyeva (17) / Unknown woman (20-25) / Akmaral Seydaliyeva (12) / Alexander Chepel (11) / Irina Luchinskaya (24) / Natalya Pokhlistova (18) / Irina Gulyayeva (18) / Oleg Makarenkov (13) / Ivan Bilovetskiy (12) / Yuri Tereshonok (16) / Unknown woman (18-25) / Alexey Voronko (9) / Yevgeniy Muratov (15) / Tatyana Ryzhova (16) / Alexander Dyakonov (8) / Alexey Moiseyev (10) / Helena Varga (19) / Alexey Khobotov (10) / Andrei Kravchenko (11) / Yaroslav Makarov (10) / Lyubov Zuyeva (31) / Viktor Petrov (13) / Ivan Fomin (11) / Vadim Gromov (16) / Viktor Tishchenko (16) / Svetlana Korostik (22)
Method of murder: Strangulation - Stabbing with knife
Location: Rostov Oblast, Russia
Status: Executed by a single gunshot behind the right ear on February 16, 1994

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Andrei 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 bullying.

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.

The Crimes

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 retrieved.

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 higher.

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.

The Arrest

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.

The Trial

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 assembled crowd.

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.

The Aftermath

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 1994.

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 Russian SFSR.


Earley life

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 career

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 Rostov University.

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 same killer.

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 victim's clothing.

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 boy.

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 months.

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 murders.

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 manhunt

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 1989.

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 snare

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 suspect list.

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.

Final arrest

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 victims.

Chikatilo's confession

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 murder.

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.

Psychiatric evaluation

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 confessed.

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 arrested.

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 following speech:

"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 right ear.

List of victims

Number Name Sex Age Date of Murder
1  Lena Zakotnova F 9  December 22, 1978
2  Larisa Tkachenko F 17  September 3, 1981
3  Lyubov Biryuk F 13  June 12, 1982
4  Lyubov Volobuyeva F 14  July 25, 1982
5  Oleg Pozhidayev M 9  August 13, 1982
6  Olga Kuprina F 16  August 16, 1982
7  Irina Karabelnikova F 19  September 8, 1982
8  Sergey Kuzmin M 15  September 15, 1982
9  Olga Stalmachenok F 10  December 11, 1982
10  Laura Sarkisyan F 15  After June 18, 1983
11  Irina Dunenkova F 13  July 1983
12  Lyudmila Kushuba F 24  July 1983
13  Igor Gudkov M 7  August 9, 1983
14  Valentina Chuchulina F 22  After September 19, 1983
15  Unknown woman F 18–25  Summer, 1983
16  Vera Shevkun F 19  October 27, 1983
17  Sergey Markov M 14  December 27, 1983
18  Natalya Shalapinina F 17  January 9, 1984
19  Marta Ryabenko F 45  February 21, 1984
20  Dmitriy Ptashnikov M 10  March 24, 1984
21  Tatyana Petrosyan F 32  May 25, 1984
22  Svetlana Petrosyan F 11  May 25, 1984
23  Yelena Bakulina F 22  June 22, 1984
24  Dmitriy Illarionov M 13  July 10, 1984
25  Anna Lemesheva F 19  July 19, 1984
26  Svetlana Tsana F 20  July 1984
27  Natalya Golosovskaya F 16  August 2, 1984
28  Lyudmila Alekseyeva F 17  August 7, 1984
29  Unknown woman F 20–25  August 8–11, 1984
30  Akmaral Seydaliyeva F 12  August 13, 1984
31  Alexander Chepel M 11  August 28, 1984
32  Irina Luchinskaya F 24  September 6, 1984
33  Natalya Pokhlistova F 18  July 31, 1985
34  Irina Gulyayeva F 18  August 27, 1985
35  Oleg Makarenkov M 13  May 16, 1987
36  Ivan Bilovetskiy M 12  July 29, 1987
37  Yuri Tereshonok M 16  September 15, 1987
38  Unknown woman F 18–25  April 1–4, 1988
39  Alexey Voronko M 9  May 15, 1988
40  Yevgeniy Muratov M 15  July 14, 1988
41  Tatyana Ryzhova F 16  March 8, 1989
42  Alexander Dyakonov M 8  May 11, 1989
43  Alexey Moiseyev M 10  June 20, 1989
44  Helena Varga F 19  August 19, 1989
45  Alexey Khobotov M 10  August 28, 1989
46  Andrei Kravchenko M 11  January 14, 1990
47  Yaroslav Makarov M 10  March 7, 1990
48  Lyubov Zuyeva F 31  April 4, 1990
49  Viktor Petrov M 13  July 28, 1990
50  Ivan Fomin M 11  August 14, 1990
51  Vadim Gromov M 16  October 17, 1990
52  Viktor Tishchenko M 16  October 30, 1990
53  Svetlana Korostik F 22  November 6, 1990

Chikatilo in media

In film

  • 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.

  • The 2004 film Evilenko, starring Malcolm McDowell and Marton Csokas, was loosely based on Chikatilo's murders.

Factual books

Four books have been written about the case of Andrei Chikatilo:

  • The Killer Department, written by Robert Cullen (ISBN 1-85797-210-4)

  • Hunting The Devil, written by Richard Lourie (ISBN 0-586-21846-7)

  • The Red Ripper, written by Peter Conradi (ISBN 0-86369-618-X)

  • Comrade Slayer: Andrei Chikatilo and his victims, written by Mikhail Krivich and Olgert Olgin (ISBN 0-45001-717-6)

Fictional books

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 thereafter.


Andrei Chikatilo: The Heart of a Monster

by Patrick Bellamy

The Girl In The Red Coat

Late in 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.

What 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.

The 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.

Shortly 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.

Unable 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 burning.

Upon 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.

A Likely Suspect

The 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.

While 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.

Even 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 history.

Comrade Chikatilo

Andrei 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 brother.

Several 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."

From the 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.

Because 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.

When he 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.

When he 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.

Some 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.

Not long 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."

Despite 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 other schools.

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.

In 1978, 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.

A Taste For Blood

Larisa 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 fists.

As she 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.

Over the 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.

After 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.

Before 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.

An "Official" Investigation

By 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.

Soon 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.

As most 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.

In the 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.

The suspect, 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.

The four 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 custody.

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

By 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.

To make 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.

In an 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.

Only one 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.

While 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.

Towards 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

Several 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 bus station.

As they 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.

Finally 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.

 Zanosovsky 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 long-bladed knife.

In Custody

Under 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 inquiries.

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 detail.

As his 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 trains.

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.

The only 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."

After 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 desires.

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 rail line.

Shortly 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.

A New Confidence

For 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.

In July 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.

Anyone 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.

As the 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 machine.

By 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.

Back With A Vengence

In April 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.

During 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 remains.

Another 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.

When 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 Chikatilo struck.


LAfter 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 body.

Finally, 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.

The 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.

The net 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.

When he 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.

When the 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.

On 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 police officers.

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.

A Monster Revealed

On the 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.

For 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.

Soon 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.

He did, 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.

One week after the interrogation began, Chikatilo wrote a letter addressed to the Prosecutor General of Russia in which he stated: -

"I felt 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."

While 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: -

"My 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 captured me."

By 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 murders.

Later 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 children.

In the 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.

A Caged Animal

The 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 full days.

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

On April 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.

Despite 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.

By mid 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.

He argued 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.


The 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.

On 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.

Sixteen 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.


The main points of reference for this story were taken from the following books: -

  • "The Killer Department" - Robert Cullen - Orion Books - London.

  • "Hunting the Devil" - Richard Lourie - Harper Collins Books - New York.

  • "Comrade Chikatilo" - Mikhail Krivich & Ol'gert Ol'gin - Barricade Books - New Jersey.

  • "The Giant Book of serial Killers - The Rise and Rise of Serial Killing in the Modern Age" - Colin Wilson - Magpie Books - London.



Andrei Chikatilo

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.

First Hints

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 Russia

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 beast.

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 fingerprinted.

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 of decomposition.

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 a killing.

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 single-bladed knife.

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 someone.

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.

Operation Lesopolosa

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 mistake.

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 turned up.

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 not.

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 mistakes.

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 him go.

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 perfect suspect.

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.

Killer X

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 case soon.

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.

A 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 investigating team.

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 "Killer X."

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 only hope

Yet nothing occurred for the rest of that year or throughout all of 1987.

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 their teeth.

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 overwhelming.

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 series.

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 possession.

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 lesopolosa series.

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 Botanical Gardens.

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 samples.

And they knew the lab work had been faulty. This was the killer. They were sure of it.

End Game

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 pocketknife.

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 not proven.

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 up.

A 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 ground.

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 more.

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 be more.

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 own.

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 torture.

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 a killer.

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 unusual analysis.

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 not guilty.

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.

A 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.


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