Undoubtedly one of the most prolific serial killers of the twentieth century. Chikatilo was responsible for the death, rape and sexual mutilation of at least 53 people, most of them young girls and boys under the age of 17. Due to a poorly organized and stiflingly bureaucratic police force and severely antiquated forensic techniques, Chikatilo spent nearly ten years on his rampage of violent lust. Surprisingly he was arrested twice and released before his final capture.
Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo was born 16 October 1936 in Yablochnoye, a small farming village in the Ukraine. He was raised under Stalin's regime of terror and was introduced to death at a very early age. As a young boy his mother confided to him that his older brother, whom he had never known, had disappeared one evening. She told him how she believed that the neighbors had kidnapped and eaten him. Chikatilo has deeply impacted by this story and would later admit that he often fantasized about his brothers grisly end.
When World War II broke out Chikatolis father, Roman, was conscripted and eventually captured by the Germans. He did not return until several years after the end of the war and was disgraced when the Stalin regime branded him a traitor for "allowing himself to be caught." By now ten-year-old Andrei was a devout communist and was openly critical of his father for betraying the Soviet Union.
As he grew older it became clear that Chikatilo was extremely bright, but socially stunted. He read often and had an excellent memory. He was actively involved in politics as a teenager eventually rising to the post of Political Information Officer of his school at sixteen. Upon turning eighteen he applied to Moscow University to study law but was rejected after failing the entrance exam. He blamed his fathers humiliation as the reason for failure to be accepted.
By the time he was old enough to serve in national service he had made several attempts at intimacy with women, but became convinced that he was impotent due to his failure to achieve and maintain an erection. He became obsessed with masturbation, as it was the only way he could reach orgasm, until he made a fateful discovery. He had attempted to force a woman into sex, but she was uninterested. As she struggled Chikatoli overpowered her but shortly released her as he discovered that he had ejaculated without even touching his member. So began his association with sexual satisfaction through violence.
For a time his life progressed almost as any normal persons would. He eventually met a woman and was married in 1963. Despite his disinterest in sex, his wife managed to seduce him and they had two children. In 1971 he earned degrees in Russian literature, Engineering and Marxism-Leninism from Rostov Liberal Arts University via correspondence courses. Eventually he gained a position as a teacher at Vocational school No.32 in Novoshakhtinsk.
Nearly from the start his teaching career was a failure. His stunted social skills and shyness made it practically impossible to gain the respect or even simple obedience of his pupils
. His fellow teachers considered him odd and distanced themselves from him. Despite this he continued to work as a teacher. Later he admitted to authorities that being around so many young children aroused him.
As one might expect he began taking advantage of his position. He began with voyeurism, staking out the schools toilets. Eventually he graduated to indecent assaults of both male and female students. When parents or fellow instructors complained he packed up and moved to another school, repeating the cycle every few years. At one school he was placed in charge of the boy's dormitory and was caught attempting to fellate one of his young charges while the boy slept. He was severely beaten by several older students and he took to carrying a knife. He was never reported.
In 1978 he moved his family to Shakhty and bought a shack near the river which would eventually be the sight of his first killing. On December 22 1978 he enticed a young girl by the name of Lena Zakotnova to his riverside shack on the promise of some imported chewing gum. Once there, he immediately assaulted her, ripping off her coat and panties. When she began to scream he crushed her throat with his forearm and held her until she fell unconscious. Because her eyes were still open, Chikatoli removed her scarf and blindfolded her while he attempted to penetrate her. Frustrated at his inability to achieve an erection, he began mutilating her genitals with his hands. Excited by this new activity he approached orgasm and continued the assault in earnest. When the young girl began to waken and struggle for breath through her crushed throat, Chikatoli stabbed her in the stomach three times, fearing that if she lived she would report him to the authorities.
When she lay still he gathered her body and belongings and dumped them in the river. He failed to notice the pool of blood in the shack or the light he left on inside. He also didn't realize, and likely didn't care, that she was still alive when he dumped her body in the river. When the body was discovered the following day, a witness who had seen Chikatoli with the girl at the train depot described him to police as a middle aged man who wore large glasses and an overcoat. Police arrested Alexsandr Kravchenko, an ex-felon who had served time for the rape of a young girl in 1970. At the time of arrest Kravchenko was twenty-five years old and had never worn glasses.
During a search of the riverside, police discovered Chikatolis shack with the light on and the pool of blood. They brought him in for questioning
, but his wife confirmed his alibi
of an evening at home. Despite the strong evidence, police felt Kravchenko was a more likely suspect than the soft-spoken Chikatoli and even received a "confession
" from Kravchenko. Kravchenko was eventually found guilty and executed in 1984. By that time more than a dozen new victims had been found.
In 1981 Chikatoli was banned from teaching and received a position as a supply clerk
for a local industrial complex. The position required a lot of travel and gave him ample opportunity to prey on victims abroad. In 1983 Chikatoli expanded his tastes to include young men, absolutely confounding the Soviet police. They had no experience with serial killings and the government
refused to even admit that such a thing was possible in the Workers Paradise
. When he began killing males the police began looking for another suspect, believing the crimes were the work of two individuals.
In 1983 Soviet officials were becoming increasingly concerned with the rising number of children homicides and called in Major Mikhail Fetisov to head an official investigation. He immediately appointed Viktor Burakov to lead a special investigation squad clumsily named, "Division of Especially Serious Crimes." Their task led to some truly monstrous investigations. At one point they believed that the killer must be a truck driver to have covered so much distance. The result was the questioning of over 150,000 people who held drivers licenses and used them as part of their job. Another failed line of investigation was a band of mentally ill young men working in concert. Many mentally unstable young men were rounded up and "questioned" until one of them died in custody.
By 1984 little was known about the killer other than his blood type. Frustrated, Burakov enlisted the aid of psychologist Aleksander Bukhanovsky to create a profile of the killer. Based upon his report the team began staking out bus and train stops and within a day they witnessed Chikatoli giving undue attention to a young girl at a bus station in Rostov. He was questioned but his papers were in order and he was released.
Several weeks later he was again seen proposing young women at the bus station. This time plain clothes officers followed him and witnessed him fondle a young girl. He was arrested and held for "Harassing women in public places." An additional and unrelated charge of suspicion of theft of state property allowed them to hold him for several more days. When arrested he had a bag containing rope, Vaseline, dirty towels and a kitchen knife. His past was revealed and witness living near his shack in the woods revealed that he often entertained prostitutes there.
The evidence seemed strong until they ran a blood test. The test revealed Chikatolis blood type as A and they knew the killer's blood was AB. Much has been made over this discrepancy in later years. One researcher even claimed to have discovered a rare blood disorder resulting in a man with blood of one type, while having semen of another. The truth is that had they tested his sperm, hair or saliva the tests would have been conclusive. The B of AB antigens weren't plentiful enough in the blood to gain a positive match.
Because the blood type didn't match sufficiently, Chikatoli was released and began his killing again later that year. Although the size of the investigation increased Chikatoli still managed to evade authorities for several more years. The police were embarrassed to later discover that because Chikatoli had been a freelance member of The Department of Internal Affairs for the KGB, that he had been assisting the investigation by patrolling the railways as part of his job new job for the railroad. Aided by the information this position afforded him he was able to continue his killing with virtual impunity.
As the investigation mounted the odds slowly tipped in the polices favor and Chikatoli eventually errored. He was placed under surveillance and on 20 November 1988 Chikatoli was arrested while buying beer near his home. After his arrest he refused to confess until the psychologist Bukhanovsky was called in to assist in the interrogation. Chikatoli eventually confessed to the murders and even led investigators to several undiscovered victims, proving inconclusively that he was the killer. After his mental barrier broke he became extremely helpful, detailing times, dates, and even victims attire to the police. He even went so far as to demonstrate how he killed his victims by standing to one side so their blood would not spatter him.
His trial began on 14 April 1992 and was atypical to say the least. Chikatoli was housed in a special cage to prevent the victim's families attacking him. He often burst out, complaining about rats and radiation in his cell. At one point he removed all his clothes and waved his penis at the crowd yelling out, "Look at this useless thing, what do you think I could do with that?" He even claimed that he was pregnant and the guards were beating him in the stomach to, "Harm his baby." Despite his actions he was held competent to stand trail and on October 15 1992 he was found guilty of fifty two counts of murder.
Almost half a year later on 14 February 1994 Andrei Chikatilo was executed with typical Russian subtlety and one bullet to the back of the head.
The exploits of the investigation and Chikatilo's rampage of terror were turned into a 1995 made for HBO
movie titled Citizen X
Major sources include www.crimelibrary.com and home.wanadoo.nl/jackvbar/page9.html.