Friday 7 September 2012

Serial  Killers  (Part 2)
On August 29th 2012, I published a fairly large article in this blog as to what motivates serial killers to kill their victims. If you haven’t read it, I suggest that you scroll back to that date and read it as it will give you some idea as to why the serial killer I am now telling you about; chose to hunt and then murder his victims.

 Andrei Chikatilo

This serial killer was born in what was then the Town of  Yablochnoye in the  Ukrainian.  This killer was born three years after my own birth so if he were alive today, he would be seventy-six years old. He was a Russian killer, nicknamed The Butcher of Rostov, The Red Ripper and The Rostov Ripper who committed the murder of a minimum of 52 women and children between 1978 and 1990 in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, Chikatilo confessed to a total of 56 murders and was tried for 53 of these killings in April, 1992 and convicted of murdering 52 of the victims.

What, you may well ask, occurred in his childhood that would prompt him to murder so many people? During the year of his birth, mass starvation ran rampant throughout the 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 or not 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.

 By a co-incidence, my mother and I also lived in a one-room hut (without electricity or water) when I was a very small baby. Fortunately for me, my mother didn’t beat me. However, I didn’t sleep with my mother but instead I slept in the bottom drawer of a beat-up dresser; probably because I was also a bed wetter like millions of other children during those terrible Depression years.

 Shy and studious as a child, Chikatilo developed a passion for reading. By the time he reached his teens, he was an avid reader of Communist literature and was appointed chairman of the pupils' Communist committee at his school. As a child and later as an adult, I too was an avid reader however throughout Chikatilo’s childhood and adolescence years, he was consistently a target for bullying by his peers, whereas I wasn’t.

 During his adolescent  years, he realized that he was suffering from chronic impotence which worsened his social awkwardness and self-hatred. Chikatilo was shy in the company of females as his only sexual experience as a teenager was when he, aged 17, he 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. He suddenly became aware that forcing children to submit to his will was a sexual stimulus for him. I believe that is what might have later motivated him to murder children and young women.

 In 1963, Chikatilo married a woman to whom he was introduced to 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. Needless to say, to him, his manhood may have been in doubt.

 Chikatilo began his career as a teacher of Russian language  and literature in Novoshakhtinsk His career as a teacher ended in March 1981 after the school received several complaints of child molestation  against pupils of both sexes. Chikatilo eventually took a job as a supply clerk for a factory.

In September 1978, Chikatilo moved toShakhty,   a small coal mining town near  Rosdtov-on Don,  where he committed his first documented murder.
On the 22nd of December, Chikatilo 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 and stabbed her three times in the abdomen, ejaculating in the process of knifing the child. He then threw her body in a nearby river. Her body was later found floating near the shore. As far as anyone knows, this was his first murdered victim.

 There was some evidence that linked Chikatilo to the murder of Yelena Zakotnova. For example, spots of blood had been found in the snow near the house Chikatilo had purchased. Further, neighbours had noted that Chikatilo had been present in the house on the evening of the 22nd of December.  Zakotnova's school rucksack had been found upon the opposite bank of the river at the end of the street (indicating the girl had been thrown into the river at this location) and a witness had given police a detailed description of a man closely resembling Chikatilo whom she had seen talking with Zakotnova at the bus stop where the girl had last been seen alive.

 Despite all this evidence pointing to Chikatilo, a 25-year-old man named Aleksandr Kravchenko, who as a teenager, had served a prison sentence for the rape and murder of a teenage girl, was arrested for the Zakotnova murder and subsequently confessed to killing her. 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. That is believable. 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 in July, 1983 for the murder of Yelena Zakotnova.

 What is interesting about that specific murder is that following Zakotnova's murder, Chikatilo was able to achieve sexual arousal and orgasm only through stabbing and slashing women and children to death. He later claimed that the urge to relive the experience had overwhelmed him.  That applies to many serial killers.

 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, he failed to achieve an erection. He became furious and battered and strangled the girl to death. Since he had no knife, he mutilated her body with his teeth and a stick.

 On the 12th of June 1982, Chikatilo met a 13-year-old girl named Lyubov Biryuk walking home from a shopping trip in the village of Donskoi.  At one point in the path where both were walking and talking together, he realized that because the path was shielded from the view of potential witnesses by bushes, so Chikatilo pounced upon Biryuk, dragged her into nearby undergrowth, tore off her dress and killed her by stabbing and slashing her to death with a knife. This was his third murder.

I won`t go through every one of the murders he committed but instead I will tell you about some more of them and the attempts of the police at finding out who was doing the killings.

 By January 1983, a total of four victims thus far killed had been tentatively linked 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 newly appointe forensic analyst, Viktor Burakov, to head the investigation.
In April, Olga Stalmachenok's body was found. Burakov was summoned to the crime scene, where he noted the eviscerations conducted upon the child and that her eye sockets bore striations. Burakov later stated that, as he noted the striations upon Stalmachenok's eye sockets, he concluded that the presence of a serial killer was obvious.   
Chikatilo did not kill again until June 1983, when he murdered a 15-year-old Armenian girl named Laura Sarkisyan, although her body was never found. By September, he had killed a further five victims. The accumulation of bodies found and the similarities between the pattern of wounds inflicted on the victims forced the Soviet authorities to acknowledge that a serial killer was on the loose. On the 6th of September 1983, the public prosecutor of the USSR formally linked six of the murders thus far committed to the same killer.

 Due to the sheer savagery of the murders and the precision of the eviscerations upon the victims' bodies, police theorized that the killings may have been conducted by either a group harvesting organs to sell for transplant or the work of a Satanic cult. However, much of the police effort concentrated upon mentally ill citizens, homosexuals, known pedophiles and other sex offenders, slowly working through all that were known about them and eliminating them from the inquiry. A number of young men confessed to the murders, although they were usually mentally handicapped  youths who admitted to the crimes only under prolonged and often brutal interrogation

 In January and February 1984, Chikatilo killed two women in Rostov's Aviators' Park. On 24 March, he lured a 10-year-old boy, 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. This was the first time that the police got a break in the case.

 On the 13th of September 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 Ptashnikov in March. These factors provided insufficient evidence to convict him of the murders, however. He was found guilty of theft of property from his previous employer and sentenced to one year in prison, but was freed on 12 December 1984 after serving only three months.
Upon his release from jail, Chikatilo found new work inNovocherkaask and kept a low profile. He did not kill again until 31 July 1985, when he murdered a young woman named Natalia Pokhlistova in a thicket of woods close to Moscow's Domodeovo Airport. Based upon the hypothesis the killer had travelled from the Rostov Oblast to Moscow via air, investigators checked all Aeroflot flight records of passengers who had commuted between Moscow and the Rostov Oblast between late July and early August. On this occasion, however, Chikatilo had travelled to Moscow by train and as such, no documentation existed for investigators to research. One month later, on the 27th of August, Chikatilo killed another young woman, Irina Gulyaeva, in Shakhty. As had been the case with Natalia Pokhlistova, the wounds inflicted upon the victim linked her murder to the hunt for the killer of some of the other victims.

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.

Dr. Bukhanovsky produced a 65-page  psychologiocal 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, likely to be married or had previously been married, but also a sadist who could achieve sexual arousal only by seeing his victims suffer. Bukhanovsky also pointed out in his report that because many of the killings had occurred on weekdays near mass transportation and across the entire Rostov Oblast, 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 of the murders he committed very carefully by reading newspaper reports about the manhunt for him. He kept his homicidal urges under control in order not to be caught inadvertently however 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.

In 1988, Chikatilo killed three more 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 named Aleksey Voronko in Ilovaisk, Ukraine. The boy's wounds left no doubt the killer had struck again, and this murder was linked to the manhunt On 14 July, 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 the 8th of March 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 four more victims, three of whom were killed in Rostov and Shakhty, although only two of the victims were linked to the killer.

On 14 January 1990, Chikatilo killed an 11-year-old boy in Shakhty. On 7 March, he killed a 10-year-old boy named Yaroslav Makarov in Rostov's Botanical Gardens. His eviscerated body was found the following day. On the 11th of  March, 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 of the multiple murders. 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 that had been conclusively linked to the killer—both of them in 1985. However in March 1990, six further victims had been linked to the killer. Fetisov had noted laxity in some areas of the investigation, and warned that some investigators would be fired if the killer was not caught soon.

On the 4th of April, he killed a 31-year-old woman in woodland near the Donleskhoz station. I believe that was the first time he murdered an adult. On the 28th of July, he lured a 13-year-old boy named Viktor Petrov away from a Rostov train station and killed him in Rostov's Botanical Gardens. On the 14 of August, he killed an 11-year-old boy in the reeds near Novocherkassk beach.

The discovery of more victims sparked a massive operation by the police; as several victims had been found at stations on one rail route through the Rostov Oblast.

Viktor Burakov who had been involved in the hunt for the killer since 1982, suggested a plan to saturate all larger stations in the Rostov Oblast with an obvious uniformed police presence the killer could not fail to notice, with the intention of discouraging the killer from attempting to strike at any of these locations, and to patrol with undercover agents smaller and less busy stations 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 his 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 which were at 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 27 October 1990. This was a clever move by Burakov because he was in effect, funneling the murderer to one of three stations to commit his crimes.

 The ploy worked. On the 30th  of October, police found the body of a 16-year-old boy named Vadim Gromov at Donleskhoz Station. Gromov had been killed on 17 October, 10 days before the start 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 Chikatilo took him into a nearby forest and killed the boy.

 On the 6th of November 1990, Chikatilo killed and mutilated a 22-year-old woman named Svetlana Korostik in a woodland near Donleskhoz Station. This was the second adult he had murdered.

It was at this time that the break everyone was waiting for came about. 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 was walking towards the train station, the undercover officer noted that his coat had grass and soil stains on the elbows. Chikatilo also had a small red smear on his cheek. To the officer, he looked suspicious because the only reason people entered the 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, but had no formal reason to arrest him. When the policeman returned to his office, he filed a routine report, containing the name of the person he had stopped at the train station.

 On the 13th of November, Korostik's body was found in the forest fronting the Kirpichnaya Station. Meanwhile the police summoned the officer in charge of surveillance at Donleskhoz Station (near where the woman was murdered) 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, as he had been questioned in 1984 and placed upon a 1987 suspect list compiled and distributed throughout the Soviet Union. 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 that Chikatilo had been forced to resign from his teaching position due to complaints of  sexual assault  from several pupils. The pattern was beginning to set like plaster of Paris. It seemed to the police that at last they knew who the murderer was.

 The police then placed Chikatilo under surveillance on the 14th of November. 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 and then seek another conversation partner. On the 20th of November, after six days of surveillance, Chikatilo left his house with a one-gallon flask for beer. He 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.
After he was arrested, Chikatilo gave a statement claiming that the police were mistaken, and complained that 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 second to the last 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 one of Chikatilo`s finger bone was later found to be broken and his fingernail had been bitten off, the police thought it strange that Chikatilo had never sought medical treatment for the wound. Perhaps he thought that the hospitals had been told to be on the lookout for things that might appear strange to them.

 A search of Chikatilo's belongings revealed he had been in possession of a folding knife at the time of his arrest. That by itself is not proof that he killed his victims with a knife.  Chikatilo was placed in a cell inside the KGB headquarters in Rostov with a police informer, who was instructed to engage him in conversation and elicit any information he could from him. On the 21st of November, formal questioning of Chikatilo began. The interrogation was performed by Issa Kostoyev. The strategy chosen by the police to elicit a confession was to lead Chikatilo to believe that 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 circumstantia 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 that he had committed the murders, although he did confess to molesting his pupils during his career as a teacher. By admitting to those crimes, he hoped that the police would recognize his honesty and presume that he was also telling them the truth when he told them that he didn`t commit the murders. He also produced several written essays for Kostoyev which, although evasive regarding the actual murders, did reveal psychological symptoms consistent with those predicted by Dr. Bukhanovsky in 1985. The interrogation tactics used by Kostoyev may also have caused Chikatilo to become defensive. The informer sharing the KGB cell with Chikatilo reported to police that Chikatilo had informed him that Kostoyev had repeatedly asked him direct questions regarding the mutilations inflicted upon the victims. That kind of information would be of no value in convicting Chikatilo of anything.

 On the 29th of November, 1990 at the request of Burakov and Fetisov, Dr. Alexandr 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 Bukhanovsky that he was indeed guilty of the crimes for which he had been arrested. After conversing into the evening, Bukhanovsky reported to Burakov and Fetisov that Chikatilo was ready to confess.

 The following morning, (30 November) Issa Kostoyev resumed the interrogation of Chikatilo. According to the official report of the interview, Chikatilo confessed to 36 of the murders police had linked to him although he denied two additional murders committed in 1986 which the police had initially believed he had committed. He gave a full, detailed description of each murder upon the list of charges, all of which were consistent with known facts regarding each killing. When prompted, he could draw a rough sketch of various crime scenes, indicating the position of the victim's body and various landmarks in the vicinity of the crime scene. Other additional details provided further proof of his guilt, For example, one victim upon the list of charges was a 19-year-old student named Anna Lemesheva. Chikatilo recalled that as he fought to overpower her, she had stated that a man named 'Bars' would retaliate for his attacking her. Lemesheva's fiancée had the nickname Bars tattooed on his hand.

 In describing his victims, Chikatilo falsely referred to each as 'déclassé elements' whom he would typically lure from various bus and train stations to a secluded area before killing them. Chikatilo stated to Kostoyev he had often tasted the blood of his victims and although he admitted he had chewed upon the excised sexual organs of several victims of both sexes, he stated he had later discarded these body parts. On the 30th of November, Chikatilo was formally charged with each of the 36 murders he had confessed to; all of which had been committed between June 1982 and November 1990

 Over the following days, 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. Aleksandr Kravchenko received a posthumous  pardon for Yelena Zakotnova's murder.

 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.

 On the 20th of August 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 analyzed by a senior psychiatrist, Dr. Andrei Tkachenko, who declared him legally sane on the 18th of October. In December 1991, details of Chikatilo's arrest and a brief summary of his crimes were released to the newly liberated media by police that put a great many people in Russia at ease.

 Chikatilo's trial was the first major media event of liberalized post-Soviet Russia. Chikatilo stood trial in Rostov on 14 April 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 which was 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 his genitals to the spectators in the courtroom , singing, and refusing to answer questions put to him by the judge. He was regularly removed from the courtroom for interrupting the proceedings. On 13 May, 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. Neither was replaced.

 On the 9trh of August, 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 14 October 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 the security people tried to arrest the young man, other victims' relatives shielded him, preventing him from being arrested.

 On the 15th of October, Chikatilo was found guilty of 52 of the 53 murders and sentenced to death for each offense. He was also found guilty of five counts of sexual assault committed during the years he worked as a teacher in the 1970s. 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.” unquote

 Chikatilo was taken from the courtroom to his cell at Novocherkassk prison to await execution. He did file an appeal against his conviction with th Russian Supreme Court, but this appeal was rejected in 1993. On the 4th of January 1994 Russian President, Boris Yeltsin,   refused a last-ditch appeal for clemency.  

On the 14th of February, 1994, Chikatilo was taken from his death row cell in Novocherkassk prison to a soundproofed room. The room had a hole in the centre of the slanting floor where blood would flow. He knew of course that in seconds he would be shot from behind and when he heard the clicking of the handgun behind him, he slightly turned his head to his right and at that moment, his executioner, said to him, `Sir. Please turn your head forward.” When Chikatilo did, he was immediately executed with a single gunshot behind his right ear.

As I said in Part 1 of this series, I am convinced in my own mind that serial killers should never be permitted to live the rest of their lives in prison. This prolific serial killer is the reason for my views on the subject of capital punishment when it comes to really horrific murderers.

The 1995 film Citizen X.  Cit based on Robert Cullen's book The Killer Department, portrayed the investigation of the Rostov Ripper murders. Citizen X starred Stephen Rea, as Viktor Burakov, Jeffrey DeMunn  as Chikatilo, Donald Sutherland  as Mikhail Fetisov and  Max von Sydow as Dr. Alexandr Bukhanovsky.



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