“A life without murder is like life without food”
Alexander Yuryevich Pichushkin was born on 9 April 1974 in Mytishchi, Moscow Oblast. His father was not interested in the boy and walked out when he was still young. Pichushkin committed his first murder in 1992 when he was 18 years old, killing Sergei, the boyfriend of Olga, a neighbour he had fallen in love with.
Police dismissed the murder as suicide. He began his murderous campaign in earnest in 2001 and, by the time he had finished, he was responsible for at least 48 deaths and possibly more than 60. Pichushkin, a supermarket worker who lived with his elderly mother, originally said that he wanted to kill 64 people, the number of squares on a chessboard. His main targets were old men with whom he played chess and shared a bottle of vodka or beer before hitting them on the head with a hammer.
He then pushed the empty vodka bottle down their throats. “For me, life without murder is like life without food for you,” he once said. “I felt like the father of all these people, since it was I who opened the door for them to another world.” One victim, a woman, had stakes hammered into her skull. According to police, he would record each murder by marking it on a square of a chessboard, earning him the name, the Chessboard Killer.
Bitsevsky Park, Moscow, Russia
Pichushkin was arrested on 15 June 2006 after police found a metro ticket in the pocket of his last victim, Marina Moskalyova, 36. He denied all knowledge of her until police showed him CCTV footage of the two of them together. Pichushkin told police that killing people was akin to a “perpetual orgasm”.
His trial began on 13 September 2007. He was convicted on 24 October 2007 of 48 murders and three attempted murders. From the glass cage in which he was held, he demanded another 11 murders be taken into account. The judge, Vladimir Usov, spent more than 60 minutes reading out the verdict before he sentenced Pichushkin to life imprisonment with the first 15 years to be spent in solitary confinement.
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To get some of his victims away from busy public places, he offered to show them the grave of his dead dog. In February 2006 police shot an innocent man in the leg, thinking that he was the Chessboard Killer. They also detained a transvestite with a hammer in his purse, though he too was released.