“I know I have to be destroyed. I was a mistake of nature”
Born in Yablochnoye, Ukraine on 16 October 1936, Andrei Chikatilo had an elder brother, Stepan, whom he believed had been killed and eaten by the neighbours. In 1941 the Germans occupied his village when he no doubt witnessed atrocities. After he married and became a father, he landed a job as a school teacher in Novoshakhtinsk and began to abuse his pupils. He was sacked but no further action was taken against him.
In his early 40s, Chikatilo killed for the first time. He had moved to Shakhty, a small coal-mining town near Rostov-on-Don and on 22 December 1978 he kidnapped 9-year-old Lenochka Zakotnova, blindfolded her, attempted rape, stabbed her three times and then threw her into the Grushova River.
Chikatilo was arrested but freed when his wife gave him an alibi. Aleksandr Kravchenko, a local rapist, was tried for the crime and executed. On 3 September 1981 Chikatilo killed 17-year-old Larisa Tkachenko, who was known to be free with her sexual favours. He filled her mouth with earth to stop her screaming. Chikatilo later said that he was excited by what he had done. His third victim was Lyuba Biryuk, in June 1982, and she was the first to suffer what became Chikatilo’s motif — he gorged her eyes out. In 1983 he murdered six more times, including two young men.
The Soviet Union was always loath to publicize its troubles and to ask for help so the media were forbidden from writing about a serial killer being at large. This made it easier for Chikatilo to operate and in 1984 he murdered 15 times, eight in August alone. At the end of 1984 Chikatilo was arrested as he bothered some girls at a bus station but a mistake in forensics allowed him to go free and carry on butchering.
Eight died in 1988 and nine in 1990 and on 6 November Chikatilo murdered 20-year-old Svetlana Korostik. He was stopped, sweating and with bloodstains on his clothes, leaving the crime scene. He was not searched — had the policeman done so he would have found Svetlana’s breasts in Chikatilo’s bag. Chikatilo —the Rostov Ripper — was finally arrested on 20 November after upsetting some children.
Rostov, Ukraine, USSR
Friday 22 December 1978—Tuesday 6 November 1990
After nine days in custody Chikatilo confessed to 52 more murders. He was tried on 14 April 1992 and spent the time in an iron cage in the centre of the courtroom. He said, “When I used my knife, it brought psychological relief. I know I have to be destroyed. I was a mistake of nature.”
On 15 October he was found guilty of 52 murders and sentenced to death. On 14 February 1994 he was executed with a single shot to the back of the head.