The story of Andrei Chikatilo, the Rostov Ripper, is made by a long and devastating chain of crimes lasting for years. 52 victims and only one culprit, remembered as one of the most disturbed and brutal serial killers.
An infinite nightmare
Šachty, Russia. It is December 22, 1978 and nine-year-old Yelena Zakotnova is returning home when she is approached by a man. The strange character shows up with apparent good intentions and persuades her to enter where he lives, an old house with three rooms.
December 24th. Yelena has now been missing for two days when a terrible discovery occurs. The girl’s body is found near a river, hit hard in the head and stabbed numerous times.
A frightening murder.
The police initiate the investigation and trace a man, Alexander Kravchenko, resident in the area and with a history of rape. The suspect is interrogated by the agents and confesses to the crime, thus ending up in jail. In 1982 Kravchenko is executed by a firing squad.
The case seems to have been solved, but what no one knows yet is that Alexander Kravchenko is not Yelena’s killer. The real culprit managed to evade the investigation, endeavour he will continue to accomplish for the next 12 years.
September 4, 1981. A lifeless body is found along a path in a forest in Rostov. The victim, 17 years old Larisa Tkačenko was terribly mutilated. An atrocious act that seems to all intents and purposes the work of a maniac. The suspicion is that in the area there is an individual, moved by deviated and unstoppable impulses, potentially able to strike again if not stopped. This impression will unfortunately find confirmation in the following months.
June 12, 1982. Lyubov Biryuk, a 13-year-old girl leaves the house to run errands for her mother. It will be the last time the young woman will be seen alive. She will be reported missing for the next two weeks, until her body is discovered. Also in this case it is a murder and the autopsy will show that Lyubov has been gutted and her eyes have been gouged out.
A chilling crime. From this moment on, the murders will follow one another at a frenzied pace, in an escalation of violence that will sow panic throughout the nation.
From July to December, the serial killer will kill another six victims, four female and two male. His modus operandi is shocking and inhumane. For female victims, he cuts off the nipples or breasts, often removing the uterus as well. Male victims are castrated.
The investigations continue and according to a theory that begins to circulate the murders are of a ritualistic nature and consequently attributable to some type of satanic cult.
In the meantime, the crimes do not stop and during 1983 8 people are killed and mutilated. The matter becomes more and more complicated and for this reason it will be necessary to involve a team of investigators directly from Moscow, led by Mikhail Fetisov.
Despite the efforts of the authorities, the killer will continue his insane plan, leaving behind a long trail of corpses. The age range of its victims, both men and women, varies from 8 to 44 years. He strikes both men and women and there seems to be no logic in his selections. He rages on the bodies with unprecedented ferocity, removing genitals, breasts, uterus, eyes, tongue. A climb of violence and brutality that lasts for many years, perpetrated by a subject who somehow always manages to escape from the hands of the investigators.
Alexandr Bukhanovsky, a psychiatrist, is also involved in the investigation and he draws up a profile of the killer. According to the doctor, the murderer is a man between 45 and 50 years old, sexually impotent and with a difficult childhood behind him. He suffers from necrosadism and derives sexual pleasure from the suffering of others.
At the end of 1990 a turning point took place.
Police notice that many victims are found near train stations, so they suspect that the killer uses trains for his movements. Thus they begin to keep all stations under control, convinced that they will be able to intercept the subject they have been searching years.
On November 6, an inspector who was patrolling a station sees a man coming out of the woods. His clothes are dirty and he appears to be stained with blood. The agent stops him and carries out a check. The individual is called Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo. Despite the suspicions, the man will be let go. In the meantime, the inspector draws up a report on that strange individual.
Chikatilo is consequently placed under close surveillance. On November 20, he is observed by policemen while, coming out of his home, he repeatedly and insistently approaches children. At this point the agents decide to proceed with the arrest.
During the interrogations the man firmly denies any responsability for the murders. However, the investigators are convinced that they have the right man and decide to try to make him talk to Bukhanovsky, the man who had drawn up the profile of the murderer. After the interview with the psychiatrist, Chikatilo’s confession arrives. He is the Rostov Ripper.
Born on October 16, 1936 in Yabluchne. Son of peasants, he grows up in a situation of extreme poverty, so much so that he goes often hungry for days and seldom able to eat regularly.
At the age of 5, his mother tells him a story about his older brother, who allegedly died before his birth. According to the woman’s story, the child was cannibalized by other peasants, starving due to the famine. The story has never been confirmed and it is not clear if it really happened, however it will produce a notable impact on Andrei’s mind.
In 1944 Andrei started going to school, immediately showing an introverted and reserved character. The child is often bullied by schoolmates also because of his father’s reputation, considered a coward due to his experience in the war field; for this reason, the child will harbor a strong resentment towards the parent.
Despite this, Andrei shows himself to be a particularly brilliant student with an excellent memory. He graduates in 1954 and decides to try to enter Moscow University, however he will not be able to pass the test.
The relationship with the other sex is complicated, his shyness prevents him from meeting girls. The first sign of a disorder comes when he shows up at one of his sister’s friend house attempting sexual violence and failing with an involuntary premature ejaculation. An episode that will open the doors to his criminal career.
In 1957 he leaves for the national service. During his years in the army, he will spend most of his time alone, often excluding himself from the initiatives of his comrades.
He returns home in 1960 and finds his first job as a telephone technician.
Meanwhile, his sister introduces him to a girl. It is in this period that Andrei realizes that he has sexual dysfunctions and that he suffers from impotence. After less than two months, the relationship ends. His sister does not give desist and introduces him to another friend named Feodosia. This time things seem to be going well and the relationship turns into marriage. The couple will give birth to two children, Lyudmila and Yuri.
Andrei is determined to make a leap forward with his career, therefore he enrolls in the faculty of Russian languages and literature at the University of Rostov. In 1971 he graduates and manages to find work as a school teacher.
In the following years he finds employment in other schools but displays no authority towards his students, who continually disrespect him. At the same time, he can’t to keep his sexual urges under control resulting occasionally in physical abuse. For this reason eventually he gets fired.
In 1978 he secretly buys a dilapidated house in Šachty. Chikatilo is now determined to implement his perversions and uses this house as a net to frame his victims. He initially attracts people to the mansion by trading sexual services for money. However, it will not be enough to satisfy his fantasies that disguise a more perverse root. This is how on December 22, 1978 he commits his first murder, killing Yelena Zakotnova.
After his teaching experiences, he works as a supply clerk, a job that allows him to travel most of the time. Andrei will take advantage of this factor to carry out his crimes in various areas of Russia, reaping a long and unstoppable sequence of deaths.
The trial begins on April 14, 1992. During the hearings Chikatilo exhibit outrageous attitudes, even going so far as to lower his pants in front of the jury declaring he has been cursed by nature that made him sexually impotent.
On October 15 Andrei Chikatilo is found guilty of 52 murders and consequently sentenced to death.
On February 14, 1994, the execution takes place in the Rostov prison. Chikatilo is killed by a soldier with a gunshot to the back of the head.
Thus ends the story of one of the most violent serial killers ever to appear on earth. A man with a particular childhood and history behind him, that over the years became a real monster, committing execrable acts. His murders, a true manifestation of his mental depravity, shocked the whole world, destroying the lives of many people and throwing the population into terror for years.
In 2004 the movie Evilenko is released, based on the murders committed by Andrei Chikatilo. The killer is played by Malcom MacDowell.