The case of Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo is the perfect piece to start the “all around the world” section.
Now my history isn’t great but Chikatilo lived in the heart of rural Ukraine in the USSR during the 1930s, as well as everything else that went on with Communism Stalin had policies of agricultural collectivization and this caused widespread hardship and famine that destroyed the population, the situation only got worse with the USSR entering WW2, bringing bombing raids on the Ukraine, like I said my history isn’t amazing, literally been fact checking communism with my mother. The reason I really want to mention communism for this is because out of communism at the time the “Chikatilo syndrome” was born, basically at the time the Ukrainians didn’t believe that they had an active serial killer because “serial killers are a product of decadent American capitalism” which of course is not true, and this made it easier for Chikatilo to operate for 12 years (1978-1990) because if you’re not looking for a serial killer, you’re not going to find one.
Chikatilo is believed to have suffered from hydrocephalus (water on the brain), it’s not specified whether this was from birth or if it developed later, one of the biggest symptoms with this is genital-urinary tract problems, and because of this Chikatilo was bed wetting into his late adolescence and later he had an inability to sustain an erection, another symptom of hydrocephalus.
Chikatilo’s home and social life was unpleasant, his father was captured and held by the German’s during the war, he was later vilified by his countrymen for allowing himself to be captured, when his father returned, Chikatilo became the target of school bullies for his father’s “cowardice”
Chikatilo had his first sexual experience aged 15, it’s reported that he overpowered a young girl, and ejaculated immediately during the brief struggle. He was left humiliated after this experience and this assault is the one that cemented the association of sex with violence.
In 1960, he failed his entrance exam to Moscow State University, as a result he had a spell of National service, then moved to Rodionovo-Nestayevsky, near Rostov. He got a job as a telephone engineer and his younger sister moved him, she grew concerned that Chikatilo had no success with women so she set up a meeting with a local girl named Fayina, Chikatilo married her in 1963, and despite his sexual problems and lack of interest in conventional non violent sex, the couple had two children and lived a normal life. A career change came in 1971 for Chikatilo, he became a schoolteacher, this career changed was followed by a string of complaints about indecent assaults on young children, he was forced to move from school to school before settling at a mining school in Shakhty, near Rostov.
After his move to Shakhty, he committed his first documented murder. On 22nd December 1978 Chikatilo lured a 9 year old girl named Yelena Zakotnove to an old house, which he’d purchased secretly. He tried to rape Yelena, but he struggled to achieve an erection, Yelena sturggled so he choked her and stabbed her three times in the abdomen, he ejaculated while he stabbed the child. Her body was found two days later dumped in the Grushevka River. Chikatilo was linked to Zakotnova’s murder through spots of blood in the snow near Chikatilo’s secret house, neighbours noted that he had been present in the house on the evening of 22nd December, and Zakotnova’s school rucksack was found on the opposite side of the river bank at the end of the street, this indicated that the girl’s body had been thrown in the river at that location. Despite the evidence a 25 year old man Aleksandr Kravchenko, a local labourer that in had served a prison sentence for rape in his teenage years was arrested for Zakotnova’s murder after blood spots were found on his wife’s jumper, the blood type matched both Zakotnova and Kravchenko’s wife.
Kravchenko’s wife provided him a water tight alibi for the afternoon of 22nd December, she said her husband was at home with her and a friend for the entire afternoon with neighbours of the couple verifying this. The police however threatened Mrs Kravchenko and her friend with charges of perjury and being an accomplice to murder, the police obtained new statements, in which the women claimed Kravchenko had not come home until late in the evening, when confronted with these statements Kravchenko confessed to the murder. He later retracted this confession at his trial and maintained his innocence, he said his confession was obtained under duress. Kravchenko was convicted for the murder and sentenced to death in 1979, his sentence was communted to 15 years imprisonment (life at the time), under pressure from the victim’s relatives Kravchenko was retried and executed in July 1983 for Zakotnova’s murder.
Chikatilo was only able to achieve arousal and orgasm by stabbing and slashing women and children to death, when interviewed after arrest he spoke of his urges and how the urge to relive the experience of Zakotnova’s murder had overwhelmed him, he did however stress that he had struggled to resist these urges.
After the Zakotnova murder Chikatilo escalated his killing and violence, on 3rd September 1981 Chikatilo saw Larisa Tkachenko, a 17 year old boarding school student waiting at a bus stop by a public library in Rostov city centre. Chikatilo said in his confession that he lured Tkachenko to a forest near Don River under the ruse of drinking vodka and “relaxing”. He attacked Tkachenko when they reached the secluded area, he threw her to the ground at tore her clothes off and attempted intercourse. Chikatilo failed to achieve an erection during the assault so he forced himself inside her mouth to stifle her screams before he battered and strangled her to death, he didn’t bring a knife so he mutilated the body with his teeth and a stick, he tore one nipple from Tkachenko’s body with his teeth. Chikatilo then covered her body with leaves, branches and torn pages of newspapers, her body was found the following day.
12th June 1982, nine months after the Tkachenko murder, Chikatilo struck again, this time he travelled by bus to the Bagayevsky District of Rostov, initially to buy vegetables, but due to a bus change in Donskoi, he continued the rest of the journey by foot. Chikatilo encountered 13 year old Lyubov Biryuk as he was walking from the bus station, she was walking the same direction home from a shopping trip. When the path they were walking was shielded from view by bushes Chikatilo pounced upon Biryuk, he dragged her into nearby undergrowth, slashed and stabbed her to death after tearing off her dress. The medical examiner that investigated Biryuk after her body was found on 27th June found evidence of 22 knife wounds inflicted to the head, neck, chest and pelvic region.
Chikatilo no longer tried to resist his homicidal urges, between July and September 1982, he claimed a further five victims all between the ages of 9 and 18. He would target children, runaways, and young vagrants at bus or rail stations, he would entice them to a secluded area, often a forest and then kill them. He would usually kill them by stabbing, slashing and eviscerating the victim with a knife, some victims however were also strangled or battered to death.
Many of Chikatilo’s later victims displayed signs of mutilation to the eye sockets, pathologists concluded that these injuries were caused by a knife, leading investigators to the conclusion that the killer had gouged out the eyes of his victims.
Chikatilo’s adult female victims were often prostitutes or homeless women, he would also lure them to a secluded area with alcohol or money. He would attempt intercourse with these victims too, but would be unable to achieve or maintain an erection, sending him into a murderous fury, especially if the woman would mock his impotence, he would achieve orgasm only when he stabbed and slashed the woman to death.
When it came to his child victims he would operate more like a paedophile than a serial killer, his child victims would be male and female and he would lure them using ruses formed in the initial conversation with the victims, like promising them assistance or company, sweets and food, offering to show them a shortcut, a chance to view rare stamps, films or coins. He would over power the victims once they were alone, tying their hands behind their backs with a length of rope before stuffing mud into their mouths to silence them, before proceeding to kill them, he would also attempt to cover the bodies before leaving the scene, but with the way he covered his victims, this was more out of shame or remorse than an attempt to cover his tracks.
Chikatilo’s next victim was 10 year old Olga Stalmachenok, she was riding a bus to her parents’ home in Novoshakhtinsk, he persuaded her to leave the bus with him, her last reported sighting was by another passenger that said the girl was led firmly by the hand off the bus by a middle aged man. Stalmachenok was lured to a cornfield on the outskirts of Novoshakhtinsk, Chikatilo stabbed her 50 times around the head and body, ripped open her chest and excised her lower bowel and uterus.
Chikatilo lured a 10 year old boy, named Dmitry Ptashnikov away from a stamp kiosk in Novoshakhtinsk on 24th March 1984, Chikatilo was seen by several witnesses, who were able to give detailed descriptions of Chikatilo. Ptashnikov’s body was found three days later and a footprint of the killer, semen and saliva samples were found on the Ptashnikov’s clothes.
In total it’s speculated that Chikatilo claimed 50-56 victims in total, this case was huge, he went undetected for so long for so many reasons ,from the few murders I have spoken about it’s clear he wasn’t the most “forensically sophisticated” with how much DNA has advanced over the decades, he wouldn’t have got away with it for so long.
What’s interesting with Chikatilo for a start are his preferences, to have such a varied age range in victims is strange, because it is evident from the murders that he was sexually attracted to adult women and children. He seems to be psychologically like a paedophile when it comes to the children, like a preferential offender, the age of the victims stay the same. Despite his sexually sadistic behaviours, and aggression shown during the murders, he showed remorse for his crimes by covering his victims. Earlier we talked about the first assault on a young girl when he was 15, this left him humiliated and it planted the association of sex with violence, so it’s natural that any time he felt any sexual pleasure from his murders he would feel shame as soon as he “came down” from the release of the kill, so by covering his victims, it would be as if he was hiding from them, not trying to hide them.
Chikatilo was taken from his death row cell to a soundproof room in Novocherkassk prison and executed via firing squad with a single gunshot behind the right ear, on 14th Februray 1994. his last words were “I am a mistake of a man, a mad beast”