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Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo
The Rostov Ripper
October 16, 1936—February 14, 1994

Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo was a notorious Ukrainian serial killer, nicknamed the Butcher of Rostov, The Red Ripper or The Rostov Ripper. He was convicted of the murders of 52 women and children, mostly in the Russian SFSR, between 1978 and 1990 (some victims were murdered in the Ukrainian SSR and in the Uzbek SSR).


Early life

Andrei Chikatilo was born in the village of Yablochnoye, Ukraine. When the Soviet Union entered World War II, his father was called to the army. Chikatilo had to share a bed with his mother. He was a chronic bed wetter, and his mother beat and humiliated him for each offense.

The war years were traumatic ones for Chikatilo. During the Ukrainian famine, Stalin forced Ukrainian farmers to hand in their entire crop for statewide distribution. Mass starvation ran rampant throughout the Ukraine, and reports of cannibalism soared. Chikatilo's mother told him that his older brother Stepan had been kidnapped and cannibalized by starving neighbors; It has never been independently established whether this actually happened. During the war, Chikatilo witnessed some of the effects of German bombing raids, which both frightened and excited him. In 1949, Chikatilo's father, who had been captured, returned home. Instead of being rewarded for his war service, he was branded a traitor for surrendering to the Germans. As he grew older, Chikatilo learned he suffered from chronic impotence, worsening his social awkwardness and deep-seated anger.

Chikatilo was a good student, and set his sights on Moscow State University, where he hoped to achieve a law degree. Chikatilo failed the entrance exam, however. After finishing his mandatory military service in 1960, he moved to Rodionovo-Nesvetayevsky and worked as a telephone engineer. Chikatilo's only sexual experience in adolescence was when he, aged 18, jumped on a 13-year-old girl (his sister's friend) and wrestled her to the ground, ejaculating as the girl struggled in his grasp.

In 1963, Chikatilo married a woman to whom he was introduced by his younger sister. The couple had a son and daughter. Chikatilo later claimed that his marital sex life was minimal and that he would ejaculate on his wife and push the semen inside her with his fingers. In 1965, their daughter Luda was born, followed by son Yura a year later. In 1971, Chikatilo completed a degree in Russian literature by a correspondence course and tried a career as a teacher in Novoshakhtinsk. His career ended after several complaints of attempted molestation. He eventually took a job as a clerk for a factory.

Beginning of the murders

In 1978, Chikatilo moved to Shakhty, a small coal-mining town near Rostov-on-Don, where he committed his first documented murder. On 22 December, he lured a nine-year-old girl to an old house which he had secretly purchased, and attempted to rape her but failed to achieve an erection. When the girl struggled, he stabbed her to death. He ejaculated in the process of knifing the child. From that point, Chikatilo was only able to achieve sexual arousal and orgasm through stabbing and slashing women and children to death. Despite evidence linking Chikatilo to the girl's death, a young man, Alexsandr Kravchenko, was arrested, tried and confessed under torture. He was eventually executed for the crime.

Chikatilo did not murder again until 1982, but in that year he killed several times. He established a pattern of approaching runaways and young vagrants at bus or railway stations, enticing them to a nearby forest, and killing them. He didn't kill again until June 1983, but he killed four before September. These victims were all women or children. The adult females were often prostitutes or homeless women who could be lured with promises of alcohol or money. Chikatilo would typically attempt intercourse with his adult female victims, but he would usually be unable to get an erection, which would send him into a murderous fury, particularly if the woman mocked his impotence. He would achieve orgasm only when he stabbed the victim to death. His child victims were of both sexes; Chikatilo would lure them to secluded areas by promising them toys or candy.

Six bodies had been uncovered by 1983. 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 specialist forensic analyst, Victor Burakov, to head the investigation. The police effort concentrated on mentally ill citizens and known sex offenders, slowly working through all that were known and eliminating them from the inquiry. A number of young men confessed to the murders, although they were usually mentally handicapped youths who had admitted to the crimes only under prolonged and often brutal interrogation. One under-age homosexual suspect committed suicide in his detention cell. In 1984, another 15 murders took place. The police began additional patrols and posted plain-clothes men at many public transport stops.

Arrest and release

Chikatilo was identified to have behaved suspiciously at a Rostov bus station. He was arrested and held. It was found he was 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 but provided insufficient evidence to convict him of the murders. He was found guilty on other matters and sentenced to one year in prison. He was freed in December 1984 after serving three months.

Later murders and the manhunt

Chikatilo found new work in Novocherkassk and kept a low profile. He did not kill again until August 1985, when he murdered two women in separate incidents. He is not known to have killed again until May 1987 when, on a business trip to Revda in Ukraine, he killed a young boy. He killed again in Zaporozhye in July and in Leningrad in September.

The police investigation was revived in mid-1985 when Issa Kostoyev was appointed to take over the case. The known murders around Rostov were carefully re-investigated and there was another round of questioning of known sex offenders. In December 1985, the police renewed the patrolling of railway stations around Rostov. Chikatilo followed the investigation carefully, and for over two years, he kept his desires under control. The police also took the step of consulting a psychiatrist, the first such consultation in a serial killer investigation in the Soviet Union.

In 1988, Chikatilo resumed killing, generally keeping his activities far from the Rostov area. He murdered a woman in Krasny-Sulin in April and went on to kill another eight people that year, including two victims in Shakhty. Again, there was a long lapse before Chikatilo resumed killing, murdering seven boys and two women between January and November 1990.

The discovery of more victims led a massive operation by the police. A part of the operation involved a large number of the force patrolling train and bus stations as well as other public places around Rostov area. Major bus and train stations were patrolled by the police force wearing uniforms. Smaller and less busy stations were patrolled by undercover agents. The intention was to discourage the killer from frequenting the larger train and bus stations, where activities would be more likely to be noticed. This would force the killer to hunt at smaller stations, where the presence of police was not apparent. The operation also involved a large number of young female agents dressed like prostitutes or homeless people. They kept wandering aimlessly in and around stations as well as traveling extensively along the routes where dead bodies were found.

On 6 November 1990, Chikatilo killed and mutilated Sveta Korostik. While leaving the crime scene, he was stopped by an undercover policeman who was patrolling the Leskhoz train station and saw Chikatilo approaching from the woods. According to the policeman, he looked suspicious. The only reason for someone to go into the woods at that time of year was to gather wild mushrooms (a popular pastime in Russia). However, Chikatilo 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. His clothing was dirty and he had what looked like smeared blood stains on his cheek and ear. The policeman stopped Chikatilo and checked his papers. Having no formal reason for arrest, Chikatilo was not held. Had the Chikatilo's bag been checked, he would have found the amputated breasts of Sveta Korostik. When the policeman came back to his office, he filed a formal routine report, indicating the name of the person he stopped at the train station. Shortly after the encounter, the police found two dead bodies, 30 feet apart, near the train station in Leskhoz. It was determined that one of the victims was killed around the date of the police report filed about this suspicious man near the Leskhoz station. It was the second time Chikatilo was indirectly associated with a murder of a child (the first one was in 1978, when a witness reported seeing a man whose description matched Chikatilo with a girl who was later found dead).

Final arrest and Chikatilo's confession

Even after the incident, the police still didn't have enough evidence for arrest and prosecution. However, Chikatilo was put on 24/7 watch by the police. He was constantly followed and videotaped by undercover agents. On November 20, 1990, Chikatilo left his house with a one gallon flask for beer. Chikatilo wandered around the city, attempting to make contact with children he met on his way. Finally, he entered a small cafe where he bought 300 ml of beer. His behavior toward the children triggered the decision to arrest him when he exited the cafe.

Again, the police had 10 days to either charge Chikatilo with murders or to let him go. Upon arrest, the police uncovered another piece of evidence against Chikatilo. One of his last victims was a physically strong (although mentally challenged) 16 year old boy. At the crime scene, the police had found numerous signs of physical struggle between the victim and his murderer. One of Chikatilo’s fingers had a relatively fresh wound. Medical examiners concluded the wound was, in fact, from a human bite. Although a finger bone was later found to be broken, Chikatilo never sought medical attention for the wound.

The strategy chosen by the police force to make him confess included one of the chief interrogators telling Chikatilo that they all believed he was a very sick man and needed medical help. The strategy was to give Chikatilo hope that if he confessed, he would not be prosecuted by reason of insanity. Finally a psychiatrist was invited to assist in questioning Chikatilo. After a long conversation, Chikatilo confessed to the murders. Again, confession was not enough to prosecute him. Interrogators still needed hard evidence. Chikatilo volunteered to provide evidence, showing buried bodies that the police had not yet discovered. That gave investigators sufficient evidence to prosecute. Between November 30 and December 5, Chikatilo confessed to and described 56 murders. Three of the victims had been buried and could not be found or identified. The number of crimes Chikatilo confessed to shocked the police, who had listed only 36 killings in their investigation. A number of victims had not been linked to the others because they were murdered far from Chikatilo's other hunting grounds, while others were not linked because they were buried and not found until Chikatilo led the police to their shallow graves.


Special precautions had to be taken while keeping Chikatilo in prison. Violent and especially sexual crimes against children are taboo in the Russian underworld. Prisoners accused of raping and/or killing children in Russian prisons are "cast down" (опущены) to "untouchable" (опущенный) status, abused, and sometimes killed by their cell mates. The problem was complicated by the fact that some of the relatives of Chikatilo's victims worked in the prison system.

While in his cell, Chikatilo was put under 24/7 video surveillance. While the suspect often acted bizarrely in front of his investigators, his behavior inside the cell was normal. He ate and slept well. He exercised every morning. He extensively read books and newspapers. Chikatilo also spent a lot of time writing letters and complaints to his family, government officials, and the mass media.

Trial and execution

The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Chikatilo's trial was the first major event of post-Soviet Russia. He went to trial on April 14, 1992. Despite his odd and disruptive behavior in court, he was judged fit to stand trial. During the trial he was kept in an iron cage in the center of the courtroom; it was constructed for his protection from courtroom observers. Relatives of victims shouted threats and insults to Chikatilo, demanding the authorities to release him so that they could execute him on their own. There were many incidents of relatives fainting when the names of the victims were mentioned. Chikatilo made many ludicrous statements, on some occasions, he announced he was pregnant or was being radiated or lactated. Twice, he dropped his pants and exposed his genitals, shouting that he was not a homosexual. He denied some murders for which he had already confessed. On the last day of the trial, he broke into song and had to be removed from the courtroom. When offered a final opportunity to speak, he remained silent.

The trial ended in July and sentencing was postponed until October 15 when he was found guilty of 52 of the 53 murders and sentenced to death for each offense. 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". After hearing the sentence, the audience, made up of victim's families, broke into applause. When given a chance to speak, Chikatilo delivered a rambling speech, blaming the regime, certain political leaders, his impotence (even removing his trousers at one point) and defending himself by blaming his childhood experiences during the famine in Ukraine in the 1930s. At one point he claimed that he had done a favor to society by cleansing it of "worthless people." Chikatilo was seen saying something as police removed him from his iron cage and lead him away.

On February 14, 1994, Russian President Boris Yeltsin refused a last ditch appeal for clemency. Chikatilo was taken to a soundproofed room in Rostov prison and executed by a single gunshot behind the right ear.










This web page was last updated on: 24 December, 2008