Andrei Chikatilo’s name became common in Russia. He is undoubtedly the best-known serial killer in the countries of the former Soviet Union. Chikatilo probably became so popular because before his case the crimes of maniacs, sex offenders in particular, had not been discussed by the general public in the Soviet Union.
There couldn’t be any maniacs in a trouble-free socialist state moving toward Communism. That was a capitalist pest, the Soviet person was different…The authorities in power used to promote approximately such point of view. But that standpoint turned out to be wrong, and a devoted communist Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo happened to be a serial killer and sex offender.
Chikatilo was born on October 16, 1936 in a small Ukrainian village in the Sumy Oblast (Region). Chikatilo’s childhood was the time of strong psychological shocks. Stepan, Andrei’s elder brother, went missing in 1931. His parents suspected that he had been eaten by cannibals during the horrible famine in Ukraine in the 1930s. Andrei’s mother told him about it when he was small. It suppressed the child’s mind incredibly and probably also came into play in the formation of the future killer.
The Great Patriotic war broke out, Chikatilo’s father was drafted into the military and captured. In 1945 after the release he was proclaimed a “traitor to Motherland.” It wasn’t certainly true. Andrei was still a child, he acknowledged father’s treason and disowned him, nevertheless, he used to be bullied at school.
In general, he grew up a lonely child, didn’t have any good friends, used to be shy and timid. During the investigation Rostov ripper told, “Teachers got astonished at my helplessness. If I didn’t have a pen or ink, I was sitting and weeping”. In spite of his congenital myopia, Andrew would refuse to wear glasses as he was afraid of being mocked and gaining the character of a pointy head. Besides, the teenager had long been disguising the problem of bedwetting which still appeared when he reached middle adolescence.
Needless to say that Andrei Romanovich was bad at affairs with girls. He used to be quite shy, didn’t often get acquainted, and if it came to bed, at the crucial moment he failed; several times he had been mocked. The problems he had for sexual reasons most probably drastically affected Andrei’s further life and his “career” of a maniac.
Later on he told the following episode happened to him in his youth. “A thirteen-year-old girl came into our yard, her blue pantalets peeked out of the dress… I said to her my sister wasn’t at home, the girl stayed. Then I pushed, stretched her and laid down on her. I didn’t take off her clothes and didn’t get undressed either. But I ejaculated at once. I was getting worried about my weakness very much although nobody witnessed it. After that misfortune of mine I decided to bring down my flesh, sordid desires and swore an oath not to touch anybody except my future wife.” That was another case which encouraged Chikatilo to turn into a monster.
On leaving school, Andrei was accepted by university and successfully graduated from it. Due to the appointment he obtained employment as a telephone engineer in a small town of Radionovo-Nesvetayevsky in the Rostov Oblast. Chikatilo was assiduous in his work, managed to save up little money and sent it to his parents at once.
In 1962 Andrei’s sister introduced him to a local girl Faina who soon got married to him. In spite of the husband’s obvious sexual inactivity, two children, Lyudmila (1965) and Yuri (1969), were born to the couple. Andrei Romanovich loved his children and wife very much, was a careful, responsive father and husband.
In 1970 Andrei Romanovich completed a course in Marxism-Leninism and Literature, obtained his degree in those subjects and got a teaching position at the school № 32 in the town of Novoshakhtinsk. The teaching didn’t go right. Chikatilo wasn’t able to take control of his students. They would laugh at him and mock him. Despite such unfortunate circumstances Chikatilo didn’t quit his job. As he later told, he found it pleasant to be among children, boys and girls.
Some facts about Chikatilo’s molestation against his students came to light. Andrei Romanovich
was nicely asked to leave the educational institution, but the facts were not given to wide publicity. Chikatilo was caught being busy with a lot more sexually explicit activity at another school. He was trying to induce a sleeping schoolboy to oral sex, however, some senior students, who noticed it, beat Andrei Romanovich. After that case there was always a knife in Chikatilo’s briefcase.
Soon Chikatilo together with his family moved to the town of Shakhty. Exactly there the “Forest Strip Killer” as he was later dubbed by Russian media began his crimson crimes.
The First Murder
On December 22, 1978 Chikatilo committed his first murder. His victim was 9-year-old Lena Zakotnova. The maniac noticed her standing at a tram stop and lured her to his hut in the woods by promising to treat her with American chewing gum that was a luxury for a poor Soviet girl. The killer threw Lena to the floor there, attempted to rape and after that he stabbed her abdomen several times. He threw the half-dead girl into the river of Grushevka where two days later her body was found.
It is amazing, but the maniac might already have been caught after his first crime. A witness turned up. She saw a tall, lean bespectacled man taking Lena away. Due to the built-up identikit picture Chikatilo was detained, but his wife Faina offered his alibi for that day. But for her, the lives of 52 more people might have been saved.
Aleksandr Kravchenko, another suspected person, was involved in the case. A false confession was simply beaten out of him. Despite indefinite arguments of the prosecution Kravchenko was executed in 1984. And the true killer Chikatilo stayed at large.
Exultation and Joy from a Murder
He had succeeded in resisting his dreadful desires for three years. In 1981 he committed another murder, the victim was 17-year-old Larisa Tkachenko. The girl was in fact an underage prostitute, her main clients were young soldiers. When she was getting in touch with Chikatilo, she didn’t suspect anything bad and supposed to do her usual work.
The maniac noticed Larisa on a bus stop near a municipal library. He offered the girl to go for a stroll, and in all innocence she agreed. By all means, she counted not on such tail-end that was waiting for her. Chikatilo and Tkachenko came into a forest, but not deep. The killer threw the girl to the ground, took off her clothes and battered her cruelly. In order to stifle the screams of the unlucky girl, he covered her mouth with mud. Soon Larisa ceased resisting…
On the following day, September 4, Larisa Tkachenko’s body was found. During the interrogation Chikatilo said that the first murder had scared and embarrassed him whereas after Tkachenko’s murder he had experienced some exultation and joy. No wonder that after such sensations the maniac couldn’t stop.
In 1982 the murderer committed 6 crimes already. He adopted strategy that didn’t practically fail. He would travel by bus or shuttle commuter trains and would look out for lonely children on stations. If he managed to entice a victim to a forest strip where Chikatilo mostly committed murders the child’s fate was determined.
There were three facts made the investigation difficult. Firstly, the crimes of that kind were new experience, so there weren’t any good specialists in serial killing in the Rostov police. Secondly (it implied by the first), the investigators believed that boys’ and girls’ killers were two different people. And thirdly, many bodies were found several months later after the murder (some of them weren’t found at all). They were difficult to identify and prepare after the murder’s manner had been educed. Therefore, the case was going slow, there wasn’t even any suspected person.
The following year Chikatilo doubled his murderous counting. He committed 8 more murders (there were 4 children among the victims). The maniac committed all his crimes with the sheer savagery. From the materials of investigation: “Due to the post-mortem examination of the corpse (of the victim) the following bodily injuries have been discovered: multiple stab-slash and slash injuries of the face, abdomen and external genital organs including nine stab-slash penetrating blunt abdominal wounds with the damage of the small and large intestines, complete resection of part of the intestines and the partial removal of it from the abdominal space with rough ruptures of mesocolons and mesosteniums. Two of these damages appeared as the result of multiple (not less than 18–20) penetrations of a blade with its rotation around the axis at different angles… One stab-slash wound of the right eye-socket, two stab-slash wounds of the right ear auricle. The slash wound of the tongue with the complete resection of its tip by means of several sawing and cutting movements in the direction transverse to the tongue. The slash wound in the region of the external genital organs with the complete amputation of the scrotum and the penis. 23 stab-slash wounds in the pectoral and abdominal regions…” Mutilated bodies were regularly found in a forest strip.
The situation was turning into critical. In September 1983 Mikhail Fetisov, an experienced major, and his investigation team arrived from Moscow. Fetisov took the processors’ work extremely critically. At once he made it clear that all the murders were the work of the same sex offender. Moreover, he actively used the term “serial killer” which had been presented as appropriate for Western countries so far, but not for the ideologically pure Soviet Union.
The first evidence received in the course of the investigation was the killer’s semen sample taken from the body of one of the victims. The semen group AB, consequently, the circle of suspects was considerably shrinking. However, the evidence produced the opposite effect. On September 14, 1984 a suspicious person was detained by the police. The person introduces himself as Andrei Chikatilo. Yet the subsequent verification showed that Chikakilo’s blood group was A (in 99.9% cases the groups of different discharges and blood coincide), and he was safely freed (expelled from the party, though). Again did he set to killing.
In the course of 1984 the maniac committed 15 cruel murders: his victims were 9 grown-up women and girls as well as 6 children. In December he changed his place of work and gained a position at a factory near Novocherkassk. His occupation was connected with constant travelling and business trips. It gave him a convenient opportunity to commit crimes. It was difficult to be caught when the murders were committed in different cities and towns of a large country; it had already been proved by an American Ted Bundy.
The following year he committed two murders of women, one of them was in Moscow. In December 1985 the police operation “Forest Strip” started. It was controlled by the CPSU Central Committee. Issa Kostoyev, a new leader of the operational investigation group, set up patrols on railway stations, the best police forces and even neighborhood watch volunteers were deployed to catch the maniac. However, the field investigators didn’t know that Chikatilo had been a neighborhood watch volunteer since 1970s. He was also on the beat on stations diligently trying to catch himself. The operation was taking place at a large scale in three cities: Shakhty, Rostov-on-Don and Novocherkassk. During the operation more than 1000 (!) different crimes were cleared, over 200 thousand people were checked in their implication in the crime, many people with sexual and psychiatric deviations were added to the card index file. But the criminal wasn’t found. Kostoyev even resorted to a maniac-pedophile Slivko who had been caught earlier. Yet he couldn’t help out either, “It’s useless. Such a criminal is impossible to single out. I judge by myself.”
The burst of media hype around the case forced Chikatilo to be very cautious. In 1986 he was waiting out the peak of the active investigation and didn’t commit any murder. He celebrated his 50th anniversary peacefully (by the way, it’s a considerable age for a statistically average maniac). However, the following year he resumed killing with renewed energy and had been proceeding with his bloody work for 4 more years.
On May 16, 1987 Chikatilo was on a business trip in the Urals and killed 13-year-old Oleg Makarenkov. During his following business trip, in Zaporozhye this time, he committed an incredibly cruel murder of a 12-year-old boy. The assault was so furious that a piece of the knife with which the maniac wielded was left on the crime scene. The third murder was in Leningrad this time. On September 15 Yura Tereshonok (aged 16) was the killer’s victim. After the lad had been dead, Chikatilo started running around and shouting, “I’m a Red partisan! I’ve captured a prisoner, an enemy!”
It was obvious that Chikatilo understood perfectly well as long as he was being manhunted so forcefully, he would rather commit crimes in other regions. As previously stated, such tactics complicated the work of police authorities very much. While all forces were deployed to catch the maniac in Shakhty and Rostov-on-Don, he was safely committing murders in Moscow and Leningrad.
In 1988 Andrei Romanovich believed in his elusiveness and resumed killing in his region. Chikatilo’s new victims were an unknown girl in April, 9-year-old Lyusya Voronko in May and Zhenya Muratov aged 15 in July. All efforts of the police were still unavailing, the serial killer was at large.
He started the following year with the murder of Tatyana Ryzhova, a 16-year-old girl. The sex offender lured her away into an empty apartment of his daughter (she had left her husband and was living at her parents’ place) and gave the “guest” vodka to drink there. After that he killed her, the half-drunk girl was even unable to fight back. Chikatilo took a kitchen knife, stabbed and limbed the corpse. He took the body parts out of the apartment and carried them calmly down the street to a “grave site”. If any police patrol had checked him then, it would all have been over. But again was Andrei Romanovich into luck.
During the course of 1989 he had committed four more cruel murders. On August 19 on the way to his father’s birthday party he killed 19-year-old Yelena Varga. After he had noticed a lonely girl on a bus stop, with his favorite manner, he invited her to his home. However, he threw her to the ground in the woods and murdered her there. After the maniac had stabbed the girl, he started frenzy-savaging her body, cut off her knockers, wrapped the remains in ragged clothes and safely kept going to the party.
The bodies found by policemen were often so mutilated that they couldn’t be identified. Even experienced field investigators who had seen a lot in their time were horrified to see them.
The beginning of the new decade became the end of the maniac Chikatilo’s bloody riot. But before he was taken into custody, the serial killer had committed 8 more bloodcurdling crimes.
On November 3 the body of 16-year-old Victor Tishchenko, Chikatilo’s third victim in that year, was found. Issa Kostoyev made a decision to increase the number of police patrols. Small groups of plain-clothed policemen were watching simply each suspicious man and inspecting the forest strip and its sections adjacent to railway stations. Nevertheless, they didn’t manage to prevent the last murder committed by Chikatilo.
On November 6 the maniac took 22-year-old Svetlana Korostik away from “Leskhoz (forestry)” station to the woods where he killed her. Then he started cutting off pieces of flesh from Svetlana’s body and ate some of them. After Andrei had finished his bloody ritual, he covered the woman’s mutilated and undressed body with dirt and fallen leaves. It was seemingly nothing out of the ordinary, but Chikatilo committed a blunder which would cost him freedom (and then life). On coming back to the station, he drew Sergeant Igor Rybakov’s attention: there was the victim’s blood left on the murderer’s cheek and earlap. Rybakov checked his documents, but the sergeant didn’t have any grounds for the arrest, and the sex offender stayed at large again.
Nonetheless, the encounter with Rybakov played a decisive role in catching the forest strip serial killer. Kostoyev came across Rybakov’s report, an episode about the man with an unmatching blood group emerged and there were some other similar episodes linked with the murders and Chikatilo. At Kostoyev’s order a special group of disguised field investigators was formed to watch Andrei Romanovich.
On November 20 Chikatilo left work as during the struggle a boy, one of the victims, had bitten his finger, and the maniac went to see a doctor. On taking an X-ray (his finger turned out to be broken), Andrei Romanovich set out to search the victims. While he was trying to take the boys to the woods, the surveillance group was watching him. There weren’t any doubts in Chikatilo’s guilt left. On that day the maniac was out of luck. One of the boy’s mother took him away, and Chikatilo failed to persuade the other one. Left with nothing the murderer went to a shop to drink a bottle of beer. As he was leaving the grocery store, two plain-clothed policemen came up to him. “Are you Chikatilo?” Handcuffs were clapped on the maniac’s wrists.
The maniac had a briefcase on him. There was a knife, a piece of a rope and a jar of petroleum jelly found in it. After the search of Chikatilo’s apartment 23 more knives, a hammer and a pair of boots were found. The footprints of the boots had been found near one of the victims’ body. Faina Chikatilo refused to believe that the forest strip killer was her own husband, “so soft-hearted, kind and responsive.” The husband wrote her from a pretrial detention center, “Now I’d rather be at home and be kneeling in prayers for you, my sweetheart. Why did God send me to the Earth, I’m so affectionate, tender, careful, but absolutely defenseless with my weaknesses?”
Afterwards a spate of endless interrogations and investigative experiments began. Chikatilo was driven all over the country, to all the cities where he had managed to commit murders. One day he was brought to the scene of one of his murders, the information about it came to notice to the residents of the town of Shakhty. Crowds of people gathered, so police officers and prosecutors had to call OMON (Special Task Police Squad) urgently to prevent the people’s feeding frenzy. The sex offender confessed to his crimes, demonstrated with a model how he had slashed, battered and strangled. However, by the beginning of the trial he had withdrawn all his confessions. He assured he had done them under the police authorities’ pressure.
The trial of the murderer started on April 14, 1992. During the trial he was being hold in a KGB remand prison, strictly secured as there were law enforcement officials among the victims’ relatives. They could get at the killer in an ordinary investigation cell. In the courtroom, Chikatilo was locked up in a cell-cage which sooner protected him from the victims’ relatives rather than from escape. When 11-year-old Ivan Fomin’s father spoke in the court, he couldn’t long get the word out, but then he picked up courage and said, “I have a request to the court. Do not sentence him to death. You don’t need to do it. Let it be 15 years. Let it be less. In this case he’ll fall into our hands from the KGB dungeons where he has so long been being hidden. Listen up, Chikatilo, what we’re going to do with you, we’ll repeat everything what you did with our children. Chikatilo, we’ll repeat all. And you’ll be feeling all by driblets how it’s painful…”
Chikatilo’s defense lawyer presented Chikatilo as seriously ill and unfortunate person who needed emergency assistance. The maniac himself pretended to be insane: talked absolute nonsense, insulted the judge and the prosecutor foully. Once he took down his trousers and shaking his penis said, “…”
Despite all maniac’s tricks he was sentenced to the extreme penalty. The verdict “Execution” was greeted with applause. However, even after that the murderer proceeded to resist the justice. Every day Chikatilo started with physical exercises in a single confinement cell where he was being hold. And then he wrote complaints against the lawmen, investigators and judge. Before the execution of the sentence Chikatilo wrote a petition for pardon to Yektsin, President of then already the Russian Federation. But the petition was rejected.
On February 14, 1994 Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo sentenced to death for 52 intentional homicides was executed with a single bullet shot at the back of his head.