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Case Summary and Diagnostic Analysis of Russian Serial Killer, Andrei Chikatilo

Updated on December 15, 2014

Introduction: Criminal Case Facts

Andrei Chikatilo—also known as “The Butcher of Rostov,” “The Red Ripper,” “The Forest Strip Killer,” “The Rostov Ripper,” “Lespolosa Killer,” and “Citizen X”—was finally apprehended on November 20th of 1990 in Russia (Biography and Documentary Website; Cullen, 1993). He had conducted an eight-year-long serial murder streak that had led the Russian police department on a tumultuous series of investigations that had featured numerous dead ends and setbacks. The first victim disappeared in June of 1982. Her name was Lyubov Biruk; she was thirteen and had lived in a small village named Zaplavskaya. She had been sent to get cigarettes and other items from the nearby town of Donskoi; her body was found about two weeks later in a wooded area near the Zaplayskaya-Donskoi road. It was almost completely decomposed—a marker which initially threw the investigators off, as the body looked as if it had been lying there a month—and she was naked, with her head turned violently to the left and her legs splayed open, suggesting she had been sexually violated. Her hands were raised to shoulder height, which suggested that she had died trying to fend off her attacker. She had in total twenty-two knife wounds, including those that sliced her genitals, and her ribs were broken. Her eyes were also gouged out—a marker that would discern many of Chikatilo’s early killings. The heavy rain and high heat in the region that summer had grossly decomposed the body and had washed away any physical traces that killer may have left. Lyubov’s dress was also missing. A fervent investigation was launched but died down soon after due partially to the lack of Russian police organization and to the lack of leads (Cullen, 1993).

However, on September 20, another body was found twenty miles northwest of Donskoi in the city of Shakhty. The skeletal remains were that of a woman. She was also naked and had been dead for some six weeks at the time of her discovery. She was found in a similar position as the previous body and her eyes were gouged out. She also had many knife wounds on her body. On October 27, more skeletal remains of yet another woman were found about fifteen miles west of Donskoi and ten miles west of Shakhty. This woman also bore similar markers that distinguished the other murders as well as multiple knife wounds on her breasts. It was around this time that a second lieutenant from the criminology laboratory named Viktor Burakov was recruited for the investigation. However, he did not officially start investigating until after a fourth victim was found in January of the next year. The victim was a female aged fifteen to nineteen years, who had been dead for about six months, and whose eyes were also gouged out. Officially, at the time, the Russian police force was treating these murders as four cases that may or may not be related. This—as were many other setbacks of the case—was due to the lifestyle and cultural implementations imposed upon citizens of Soviet Russia. However, according to Burakov and many others assigned to the case, the fact that the eyes were wounded in every murder indicated that these were the work of a single individual. They posited that the reason the killer had taken out the eyes was because of the old Russian superstition that the image of the killer remained in the eyes of his victim (Cullen, 1993).

On December 11th, 1983, a young girl by the name of Olga Stalmachenock went missing in the town of Novoshakhtinsk. Flyers were posted around depicting a school photograph of the girl and asking if anyone had seen her. Several weeks later, her parent received an anonymous postcard telling them that they should look for their daughter in the Daryevsky woods at the southwest end of the city and that “we” would be killing ten more girls during the next year. The postcard was written with a shaky hand and signed “Sadist—Black Cat.” Olga’s body was found on April 14th of 1984. The winter snow had preserved much of her remains and nature of her attack. The bluish-white, frozen skin was covered with blackened remains of blood. Her skull, chest, and abdomen featured many knife wounds including evidence that the killer had ripped open her chest and tore apart, and moved around her lungs and heart with his knife. He had completely removed her bowels and uterus, and had torn away at her other sexual organs. Her eyes had also been gouged out. It was with this body that Burakov reportedly knew he was dealing with a serial killer (Cullen, 1993).

On August 8th of 1984, the skeletal remains of Irina Dunenkova were found. Her skeletal features showed that of someone with Down’s syndrome and her eye sockets also showed knife wounds. The seventh body was that of a boy, though. It was found on August 28th and matched the missing persons report description for an eight-year-old by the name of Igor Gudkov. Despite the fact that the victim’s gender did not coincide with the other murders, several other markers did, such as: the victim had been around (or used) a mass transportation system, the body had been found in woodlands, and the victim had suffered numerous knife wounds including those to the eyes. These similarities, however, did not deter the incorrect presumption that the police may have been dealing with more than one killer (Cullen, 1993).

It was this presumption that led to the wrongful arrest of Yuri Kalenik—a male who bore the societal label of “mentally retarded,” and the first of many to be wrongfully arrested for these murders—who, after a few days of harsh interrogation in Russian jail, falsely confessed to the murders. Despite Kalenik’s incarceration, more bodies were found. On October 8th, the bones of a young woman were found. She was naked, on her back, and her body had been sliced open from the sternum downwards. Both nipples and one full breast had been amputated, and her left eye was slashed. The medical examiner said that the body had been lying in the woods since July or August, leaving Kalenik still a suspect. However, yet another young woman’s body was found in a wooded area on October 30th (Cullen, 1993).

Vera Shevukun’s body was found near Shakhty, half covered in dirt. She had been dead for three days by the time she was found, which meant that Kalenik could not have killed her since he had been in custody for six weeks by this time. Her skull had been bashed in, as had many of the previous murder victims, and she had been strangled. The killer had also sliced open her abdomen and removed her uterus, clitoris, and labia, and had cut off her nipples. The only difference was that this victim’s eyes had not been touched. The removal of the female organs and the lack of attack on the eyes raised many questions about this killer about who he was and why he had changed his pattern. On November 27th, none of these questions were answered. Another victim had been found in the woods near Shakhty, not far from a railroad station. The remains were skeletal and the victim had been dead for several months. The investigators could not identify the body, but there were lacerations on the left eye socket. By the close of 1983, there were at least nine unsolved murders in connection with this pattern (Cullen, 1993).

On January 4th, 1984, a fourteen-year-old boy named Sergei Markov was found. He had been missing since December 27th from Gukovo, but the frigid snow had preserved the body so that the seventy lacerations to the boy’s neck could clearly be seen. Most of the wounds had been non-threatening, which suggested that the killer purely enjoyed the sight of his knife entering the victim’s flesh and body parts. The killer had also removed the boy’s penis, testicles, and the majority of his scrotum, and the boy’s anal sphincter had been stretched and broken. Nearby, the investigators found the boy’s clothes and three piles of human excrement. Mikahail Tyapkin, a mentally retarded twenty-three year old who attended the school for mentally handicapped children in Gukovo, was arrested in addition to his friend, Aleksandr Ponomaryev. Both boys eventually confessed to the killing of Segei, Vera, as well as two other people, and to the leaving of excrement at the crime scene. The location of the dumpsite of the one of the alleged victims of the boys’ was searched, but no body was found until two weeks later when searched again. Meanwhile, two more bodies were found—one near Salsk and one near Rostov. The boys confessed to these murders, as did other suspects in the towns. This revealed a major problem of the investigation: the messiness of the investigation. It had too many bodies, suspects, and confessions. Burakov had his doubts, though, that any of the confessed “killers” had actually murdered any of these victims. He had a reservation that the person who had killed all of these people was capable of having friends or even accomplices, and therefore it was one person that had committed these murders—one person that they had yet to find (Cullen, 1993).

However, another setback of his theory came from the medical examiner early in 1984: there had been semen found in Sergei Markov. The semen had been the first physical evidence that the killer had left behind and suggested two things: that Markov had been raped, and that the killer may or may not be homosexual. The semen was then typed to be AB. In those days, Russian forensics was many years behind that of the United States of America. They only were able to test the antigens in secretions that were found in blood and type them. So, the assumption was that someone with an AB blood type would have AB antigens in his or her secretions. That was the blood type officially declared by the lab in 1984—a blood type that is found in only about six percent of the population. One of these six percent was Mikahail Tyapkin. This was the nail in the coffin that convinced the other investigators of the righteousness of these confessions (Cullen, 1993).

In, 1984, a whole slew of bodies were being found, despite the incarceration of these suspects. On January 10th, the body of a young woman was found in the woods near the Rostov airport where another victim had previously been found six months earlier. She was naked from the waist downwards and had only been dead for a day. The killer had torn her nose and upper lip from her face with his knife. He had torn her dress open and stabbed her neck, breasts, and stomach about thirty times as well, but her eyes were untouched. Her dress had blood and semen on it, and the killer had also cut of her ring finger and flung the cheap, metal band not far from the body. Next to the ring, was a size thirteen shoeprint. She was identified as Natalia Shalopinina, an eighteen-year-old from the town of Zolotaryevka. She was known to have a “disorderly sex life,” and had one close friend, a girl named Olga Kuprina. Olga had not been seen since 1982, and no one knew where she had gone. She was eventually identified as the second body that had been found in the murder series. Burakov took all of this information and compiled a pattern: the victims had either been young boys and girls who lived with at least one responsible adult and who had been sent on an errand when they were taken, or they were young adult women who were living on the verge of prostitution. All were found in wooded areas and all were near mass transportation systems (Cullen, 1993).

However, on March 11th and April 22nd, the thirteenth and fourteenth bodies were found. These allowed for a new suspect to be brought in: Nikolai Byeskorsy. Nikolai had been seen drinking and having sex with a woman near the scene. Shortly, Nikolai, as the others had, confessed to the murders he was being accused of. Burakov had his doubts again, but this time they proved true when forensics cleared Nikolai of the murders. In March, a ten-year-old boy named Dimitri Ptashnikov went missing. He was found on the 24th with the usual castration and knife wounds featured in the killer’s victims as well as marks on his wrists that indicated that he had been tied up. Semen typed to be AB was found on his shirt. A witness was also found that vaguely described Dimitri walking behind a man, but that produced no leads. Three more bodies were found in June and July of that year. One was of a seventeen-year-old drug user named Tatyana Polyakova her long-time friend Artur Korshenko was arrested and a confession was elicited—this had now become the routine of the investigation. His blood type, however, was type A. The other two bodies were found within half a mile of each other and had died around the same time—toward the end of May. More and more bodies began to turn up in the Rostov region that summer. They were found on July 25th, August 3rd, August 10th, August 12th, August 26th, August 28th, September 2nd, and September 7th. The frenzy surrounding the murders mimicked the frenzy surrounding the political and diplomatic structures in Russia. The murders did, however, prove that the killer was escalating. The killer had murdered five people in 1982, six in 1983, and thirteen in 1984. Since the find of Dimitri’s body, he had been killing once every two weeks. Eleven of these twenty-four victims were still unidentified, which only added more backlog to the investigation (Cullen, 1993).

By the time that Aleksandr Chepel was murdered, the rumors of the killer had entered the public, despite the fact that the police had kept the investigation out of the news. Aleksandr came from a very well oriented family—the type of family that Soviet propagandists liked to show off—unlike many of the other victims, and his parents had many friends. That was why news of his disappearance and the manner of his death spread rapidly. Authorities reacted by insisting that his death was a lone occurrence. It was shortly after this time that the investigation came into contact with a suspect named Andrei Chikatilo. The police had been monitoring public transportation systems in plain clothing for some time when they encountered Andrei Chikatilo roaming and talking to many young people. He was stopped and questioned but ultimately let go. They saw him again in September and followed him, this time detaining him for a bit. They searched his attaché case and found a jar of Vaseline, a ten-inch-long knife, some rope, and a dirty towel. He was checked out and his blood type was found to be type A, and he was seen to have a good standing in the Communist Party. He explained away his lingering around the bus station, but they found reports of battery and theft at an old job. This gave them the legal right to search his apartment, but this turned up nothing suspicious. He was given six months for the reports and stripped of his membership in the Communist Party. Another body was not found until August of 1985. It was during this lapse that the entirety of the gay community in Russia was invasively investigated to see if the killer was a homosexual—it was found that he was a heterosexual (Cullen, 1993).

In August of 1985, a young woman’s body was found in Moscow. The body had several of the makers that were prevalent in the investigation and also opened up the realization that during the time that the murders in the Rostov had ceased, three young boys had died in Moscow. These murders were all seemingly related and led to the position that the killer had either relocated or was traveling regularly to Moscow. This led to the suspicion that a Russian police officer could be the killer. Sergei Kolchin was arrested. He had come into the investigator’s scope during the Vera Shevkun murder, but denied any knowledge of her. He was asked to give a semen sample and it was typed AB. Kolchin was coerced into confessing, which was good enough for the rest of the investigators but not for Burakov. The investigation hit a lull. This gave Burakov time to do research and confer with a psychologist—a position that was not well respected in Soviet society—and come up with a better understanding of who this person might be (Cullen, 1993).

On July 23rd, 1986, another body was found in the similar fashion of the other victims and with the semen typed at AB, but the killer had not cut her breasts or sexual organs. Nevertheless, another body was found on August 18th. Her body had been mutilated in the typical fashion of these murders. The killer had also made an attempt to bury the body, something that was new to the investigation. Despite this, nothing relatively new surfaced by autumn of 1986. The “Black Cat” postcard team of handwriting experts had given up after three years and all Burakov could do was make a booklet that listed the facts of the case. He found that five of the victims had psychiatric problems, six were promiscuous, seventeen were women over sixteen, four were girls under fifteen, five were boys under fifteen, and all of them were found near a road and were killed with a knife. The killings seemed to take place every day of the week except Wednesdays or Fridays, but the killer seemed to act most on Tuesdays and Thursdays (Cullen, 1993).

Despite the compilation of this pamphlet, the killer didn’t surface, nor were there any bodies found in 1987. The next body that bore the indistinguishable markers of the murderer turned up on April 6th, 1988. The after would turn up in the Ukraine on May 17th, 1988, and there was a witness that had seen the young boy (who would later be found sodomized and cut up) with a middle-aged man just before his disappearance. This would however prove to be fruitless as 1988 came to a close. 1988 also revealed important news from the medical examiner: blood types and the antigens found in secretions were not always the same. In some cases, the antigens of secretions could differ. This, among other things, called into question the validity and competence of Soviet forensic laboratories. This led to the realization that the investigators would either have to find a witness who could correctly identify the killer or they would have to catch him in the act. Another boy’s body was found on April 10th of 1989, which only led to three more people going missing and being murdered in August and July of that year. There was a lapse in killings for about four months before four more bodies were found in January, March, May, and July of 1990. By this time, the number of victims that the investigators had found counted at thirty-two. This left four more victims to be found before the killer’s capture in the autumn of 1990 (Cullen, 1993).

By this time, the investigators had been closely monitoring the train stations in the vain hope that they might catch the killer. Burakov had the idea to lure the killer into using one of three stations surrounding a Russian national forest where the killer had placed several victims. They placed heavy uniformed police presence at several of the other stations, and only officials dressed in plainclothes at these three stations. This involved some three hundred and sixty men but the plan was approved. The plainclothes officers were to stop and take down the names of everyone who used these three stations, especially lone men who were seen with young women, girls, or boys. This snare barely worked as the men could not watch all the platforms all of the time, but after the thirty-sixth victim was found, the investigators reviewed the lists and found Andrei Chikatilo’s name as one of the people who had been seen on the platform. Chikatilo had been seen emerging from the woods on November 6th and had stopped to wash his hands at a well before entering the platform. He appeared to have a smear of blood on his cheek, but the police officer had no grounds to arrest him—so he was not detained. Chikatilo from then on was followed under careful surveillance, and on November 20th, he was arrested. He had a cut on his hand and a patch of irritated skin on his penis. It took about nine more days for Chikatilo to finally confess (only after he had a discussion with the psychologist that Burakov had recruited to the case)—and confess he did but not only to the murders they had thought he had committed. He informed the investigators that his first victim had been a young girl in 1978, years before his murder streak was on the investigators’ radar. He confessed with reported detachment to every murder and described in detail to the investigators how he had brutally mutilated, raped, and even eaten part of his victims. They finally had the person that they were looking for (Cullen, 1993).

Historical Background

Andrei Chikatilo was born in October of 1936 in a small village located in the Urkraine area of Soviet Russia. At this time, in the Ukraine especially, Stalin’s agricultural policies led to a widespread famine that rampantly destroyed the population. The situation was made almost irreparably worse by the entrance of World War II and the German bombings upon the Ukraine. World War II would also later influence a large portion of Chikatilo’s childhood when his father was declared an enemy of the state for having been a prisoner of war in Germany—an act that was employed by a very paranoid Stalin. This made Chikatilo a target for bullying by the other children. He also suffered from hydrocephalus, which caused a whole slew of urinary tract and genial problems that included bed-wetting and the inability to sustain an erection, despite the fact that he was able to ejaculate. This came to light during his teens when he was attempting to court a girl in some form, but was unable to perform sexually—a fact that allowed for even more bullying by his peers. He decided, then, to study as hard as he could to enter the prestigious Moscow State University. He failed the entrance exam, however. In 1960, he became a telephone engineer and his younger sister moved in with him. Concerned about his lack of sexual success, his sister set him up with a friend named Fayina, a twenty-four-year-old girl whom he would later marry. Despite his impotence, Chikatilo impregnated her with two children through a masturbation-insemination-like process. In 1971, he became a schoolteacher. Despite the fact that they appeared to have a “normal” life, Chikatilo and his family were forced to change schools repeatedly due to a slew of complaints that he was sexually assaulting children. His pupils in the classroom, never gaining any of their respect, also ridiculed him. Nevertheless, he finally settled at a mining school in Shakhty, near Rostov. He would eventually change jobs, yet again and work as a traveling buyer for a train company, a job that allowed him a lot of travel on his own. He was arrested on November 20th, 1990 and confessed to the murder of fifty-six people. This was much more than the thirty-six people that the investigators attributed to him. He went to court in April of 1992, and was found guilty of fifty-two verifiable murders, despite his attempts to appear “insane” to the court, and was murdered by a shot to the back of the head in February of 1994 (Biography and Documentary website; Cullen, 1993).

Criminal Profile Type

Andrei Chikatilo could be characterized as an organized serial killer who was driven by feelings of inadequacy mostly driven by his impotence. His motive operandi was to pick victims he felt that he could overpower—young prostitutes, girls, and boys—and convince them to walk off with him, and then his signature would be to torture them and rape them with his penis or enact the rape by repeatedly penetrating them with his knife. He would cut them open and remove and sometimes eat some of their inner organs (Biography and Documentary Website). He would almost always remove the sexual features of his victims and sometimes their eyes. All of his victims were near mass transportation systems, all of them were found in wooded areas, and he left almost no evidence.

Personality Profile

Andrei Chikatilo would score extremely low on social potency and social closeness due to his lack of relationships and social awkwardness. He would score very low on wellbeing and achievement because he never really acted in a way that would promote his health nor did he accomplish much other than the murder of his victims, and he saw himself as lowly in life and inadequate. He would probably score a little under average in stress reaction and harm avoidance because he did not appear to be stressed when stopped for questioning but did continue to engage in risky killings of a multitude of victims for a period of years. He would score somewhat high in traditionalism because he felt inadequate to the standards that Soviet Russia placed upon him, particularly in his impotence, but reacted to these by engaging in extremely deviant behavior. He would score somewhat high in alienation, aggression, and control because of his social inabilities and his methods and reasoning behind his killings.

Clinical Diagnoses

Andrei Chikatilo was a sexual sadist who sought control through the torture of his victims as a reaction to his impotence. He has also been characterized as a necrophile, because the act of killing his victims was what made him sexually aroused and it was posited that he perhaps continued his sexual acts even after the victims had died (Cullen, 1993). He was stated as saying that the sight of blood and their screams of pain was what excited him. He also has been classified as cannibalistic due to the bite marks found on several of his victims and the fact that he exorcised many of their internal organs and genitalia and reportedly “nibbled” on them (Biography and Documentary Website). He would be right on the cusp of the PCL-R checklist, scoring around a twenty-two because he lied often to avoid detection, was very manipulative in snaring his victims, showed an excessive lack of remorse for his crimes and blamed a whole slew of reasons for his actions, showed a callous lack of empathy for his crimes, poor impulse controls, high promiscuity in that he technically had “sexual relations” with all of his victims, and an inability to have any long-term goals. He showed moderate glibness because he was socially awkward but was able to hold up superficial conversations, moderate self worth because he felt himself better than his life allowed him to be but was still dealt with feelings of inadequacy, moderate irresponsibility in his inability to hold a job for a period of time due to his inability to refrain from sexual harassment, and early behavior problems due to his lack of sexual prowess. He definitely meets the criteria for antisocial personality disorder.

Conclusions

Andrei Chikatilo was a dangerous killer who enjoyed seeing the torture of his victims. He evaded capture for so long mostly due to the inefficiency of the Russian government and their legal system and forensics. His legacy is one of terrible violence and suffering and he is still referred to as an “enigma,” even today (Biography and Documentary Website).

References

a) Cullen, Robert (1993). The Killer Department. New York: Pantheon Book.

b) Andrei Chikatilo Biography and Documentary (http://www.biography.com/people/andrei-chikatilo-17169648)

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    • Amber Cain profile imageAUTHOR

      Amber Cain 

      3 years ago

      Thank you! Good luck with your application!

    • Jolzyx profile image

      Jolzyx 

      3 years ago from Republic of Ireland

      very interesting hub and topic :) I am applying for a masters in criminology next September, keep up the good work

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