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For me, life without murder is like a life without food. I was the father of these people, since it was I who opened the door for them to another world.
Pichushkin

Alexander Yuryevich Pichushkin, a.k.a. The Chessboard Killer, is a prolific Russian serial killer who murdered 48 people. His goal was to kill at least 64 people (the same number of squares on a chessboard) so that he could surpass his idol, Andrei Chikatilo.

Background

Pichushkin was born on April 9, 1974 in the Russian part of the Soviet Union. He was initially a sociable child, but that all changed when he suffered a head injury, causing a shift in his behavior. He became hostile and impulsive, and he was frequently bullied at school. Eventually, his mother decided to transfer him to a special needs school; however, upon reaching early adolescence, his grandfather removed him from said school. This was because he regarded Pichushkin to be intelligent, and the school was focused more on overcoming disability rather than promoting achievement.

Pichushkin moved in with his grandfather and was taught how to play chess. He would go on to play against elderly men in Bitsa Park. Unfortunately, Pichushkin continued to be bullied by mainstream students in his adolescence, and things took a turn for the worse when his grandfather died, which devastated him and led to a vodka addiction. He returned to his mother's home and enrolled as a student. Meanwhile, Pichushkin kept playing chess in Bitsa Park and also developed a sadistic hobby in which he would record himself threatening children. He watched these videos repeatedly to reaffirm his power, but his murderous urges were not satisfied.

Killings, Capture, and Incarceration

On July 27, 1992, 18-year-old Pichushkin committed his first murder. He planned on killing people with a friend, Mikhail Odichuk, who thought that he was only joking. When Odichuk realized that his classmate was being serious, he tried to back out of the situation. Enraged, Pichushkin struck his friend with a hammer and pushed his body into a well. Three days later, Pichushkin was questioned by police about Odichuk's death. There was some evidence pointing to his guilt, but nothing ever came out of the investigation.

Pichushkin claimed to have committed another murder later in 1992. His girlfriend, Olga, had broken up with him and started dating his friend, Sergei. Pichushkin disposed of his romantic rival by throwing him out a window; Sergei's death was declared to be a suicide.

On May 17, 2001, Pichushkin was in Bitsa Park, playing chess with a man named Yevgeny Pronin. When the game ended, he invited Pronin to take a walk with him. Pichushkin, who used to own a dog, told him it was the anniversary of his beloved pet's death and that he wanted to visit his grave. Pronin accompanied him, and they reached an isolated spot in the park. Pichushkin then produced a bottle of vodka and offered him a drink, which he accepted. The two men drank a toast to the dog before Pichushkin suddenly bludgeoned Pronin and dumped his body into a nearby well.

In 2002, the body of a woman was found with metal stakes hammered into her brain. Pichushkin would later claim he had murdered Olga, his ex-girlfriend, and that the corpse was her. However, this has never been confirmed.

Maria Viricheva was one of the very few people lucky enough to survive Pichushkin. On February 23, 2002, he lured the pregnant saleswoman into Bitsa Park and pushed her into the same well where most of his victims were disposed of. When she clung to the sides, he held her by the hair and smashed her head against the concrete walls repeatedly before she fell. He left, believing her to be dead. Fortunately, she survived and managed to climb out of the well without suffering a miscarriage. Viricheva reported the crime to the police, but since she was an illegal immigrant, she was forced to drop her claim that Pichushkin had attempted to kill her.

Another survivor was Mikhail Lobov, a teenage skater. On March 10, 2002, after being led by Pichushkin into Bitsa Park with the promise of cigarettes and vodka, he was struck over the head and pushed down the well. Thinking that the boy was dead, Pichushkin left the scene. Luckily, Lobov's jacket had gotten caught on a piece of metal inside the well, saving him from plummeting into the icy waters. He was able to climb out. Days later, he confronted Pichushkin, only to be threatened with arrest by the police.

On November 15, 2003, a neighbor, Konstantin Polikarpov, was invited for a drink in Bitsa Park. Pichushkin bludgeoned him with a hammer three times before throwing him into the well. Again, he departed, assuming that his victim was dead. Polikarpov successfully climbed out, but he suffered head trauma, causing him to remember nothing about the attack.

The police began to take the murders more seriously when a former policeman named Nikolai Zakharchenko turned up dead. Murdered on November 16, 2005, his body had been left out in the open instead of being disposed of in the well, presumably as a sort of challenge for the police. Pichushkin had started to become cocky by leaving bodies out in plain sight, but he was still careful enough to avoid capture.

Pichushkin committed his final murder on June 14, 2006. Marina Moskalyova worked at the same store where another woman, Larissa Kulygina, had worked at before suddenly vanishing; she had been killed by Pichushkin, who was a co-worker, on April 12. Despite this, Kulygina's strange disappearance did not seem to phase Moskalyova, assuming she was even aware of it. She took a walk with her co-worker into Bitsa Park, where he then struck her with a hammer. What Pichushkin did not know was that shortly before going with him, Moskalyova had left a note for her son, telling him where she was going and who was with her. The note also contained his phone number. The boy called Pichushkin, who told him that he had not seen his mother. Obviously suspicious, the boy informed his father about this, who then proceeded to call the police. Another thing Pichushkin was unaware of was that Moskalyova's clothing contained a metro ticket. CCTV footage from the station where she had bought said ticket was reviewed, which displayed Pichushkin walking alongside her. Two days later, he was arrested.

One particular piece of evidence against Pichushkin was the fact that he kept a logbook around. Said logbook contained 64 squares inside, much like a chessboard. Each square represented someone who was killed. 62 had been filled in, which was later lowered to 60 when Pichushkin learned that two of his victims (presumably Viricheva and Polikarpov) had survived. Out of the alleged 60 murders, 48 were confirmed. According to Pichushkin, he idolized Andrei Chikatilo, another serial killer who committed horrific killings in Russia. He stated that his goal was to surpass his idol's confirmed body count of 52 victims by murdering at least 64 people, representing the number of squares on a chessboard. Pichushkin also said that even if he did reach 64 murders, he would kill more people unless he was stopped.

On October 27, 2007, Pichushkin was convicted of murder and attempted murder. He asked the Russian court to add more victims to his body count. During his trial, he was kept in a glass cage for his own protection. The judge took an hour to read the verdict, which was life imprisonment with the first fifteen years to be spent in solitary confinement. As of now, Pichushkin is still in solitary confinement, but in 2016, a woman known only as Natalya visited him, and the two actually ended up getting married.

Modus Operandi

Pichushkin would usually lure his victims with the promise of vodka or other promising items. He mostly targeted homeless men, but he also sometimes went after women and children. Once he got his victims to a secluded spot in a nearby forest, he would trick them into paying respect to his deceased dog. While the victim was busy doing that, Pichushkin would bludgeon them with a hammer. The blows were usually enough to kill them, but other times, he would throw them down a well while they were still alive, sometimes not even using the hammer at all. The well was where he typically disposed of the bodies, but he later began leaving them out in the open. Pichushkin often shoved broken bottles of vodka into the gaping holes of his victims' skulls. As a way of keeping count, he would also carry around a chessboard and fill in a square whenever he killed someone.

Known Victims

Some of Pichushkin’s victims.

All of the following were killed in Moscow.

Confirmed

  • July 27, 1992: Mikhail Odichuk, 18
  • 2001:
    • May 17: Yevgeny Pronin, 52
    • May 23: Vyacheslav Klimov, 64
    • June 22: "Yuri" (unidentified)
    • June 26: Nikolai Tikhomirov
    • June 29: Nikolai Filippov, 72
    • July 2: Oleg Lvov, 49
    • July 13: Gennady Safonov, 61
    • July 14: Sergei Pavlov, 44
    • July 20: Viktor Elistratov, 45
    • July 21: Viktor Volkov, 54
    • July 26: Andrei Konovaltsev, 22
  • 2002:
    • January 29: Andrei Veselovsky, 42
    • February 13: Yuri Chumakov, 48
    • February 23: Maria Viricheva, 19 (survived)
    • February 27, 2002: Vera Zakharova, 48
    • March 7: Boris Nesterov, 46
    • March 8: Alexey Fedorov, 41
    • March 10: Mikhail Lobov, 14 (survived)
    • August 24: German Chervyakov, 43
    • September 13: Nikolai Ilyinsky, 40
    • September 25: Vyacheslav Minayev
    • September 30: Sergei Fedorov, 42
    • November 2: Alexey Pushkov, 46
    • November 12: Valery Dolmatov
  • 2003:
    • March 13: Alexey Fatkullin, 72
    • March 27: Viktor Ilyin
    • April 4: Igor Kashtanov, 62
    • April 6: Oleg Boyarov
    • May 10: Vasily Stanovoy, 40
    • May 12: Sergei Chudin, 45
    • August 30, 2003: Egor Kudryavtsev
    • October 14: Vladimir Fomin
    • November 14: Vladimir Fedosov, 44
    • November 15: Konstantin Polikarpov, 31 (survived)
  • 2005:
    • February 22, 2005: Peter Dudukin, 57
    • June 8: Andrei Maslov, 40
    • September 28: Yuri Kuznetsov, 46
    • October 15: Nikolai Vorobyov, 31
    • November 16: Nikolai Zakharchenko, 63
    • November 21: Oleg Lavrienko, 36
    • November 28: Vladimir Dudukin, 73
    • December 6: Nikolai Koryagin, 72
    • December 16: Viktor Soloviev, 49
    • December 19: Boris Grishin, 64
    • December 26: Alexander Lyovochkin, 51
  • 2006:
    • February 27: Yuri Romashkin, 55
    • March 4: Stepan Vasilenko, 68
    • March 24: Makhmud Joldoshev, 24
    • April 12: Larissa Kulygina, 48
    • June 14: Marina Moskalyova, 36

Possible

  • Unspecified date in 1992: Sergei (surname unrevealed)
  • Unspecified date in 2002: Olga (surname unrevealed)
  • Note: Pichushkin claimed to have murdered 60 people in total.

On Criminal Minds

  • Season Seven
    • "True Genius" - While Pichushkin was never directly mentioned or referenced on the show, he appears to have been an inspiration for the episode's main unsub, Caleb Rossmore - Both are serial killers who developed a fondness for chess at an early age, had obsessions with another serial killer (Andrei Chikatilo in Pichushkin's case, The Zodiac Killer in Rossmore's), had a teenage accomplice (though Pichushkin's never actually participated in his crimes and was murdered by him), killed a boy when they were teenagers, then reemerged years later to begin killing again, and during their later murders they targeted men and women (though Rossmore copied the Zodiac Killer's victimology, while Pichushkin killed almost indiscriminately), performed overkill on them (Rossmore on his female victims only), killed them in parks, had three survivors, and had signatures involving leaving items at their murder scenes.

Sources

References

  1. Some sources report that Pichushkin "skullfucked" his victims, which seems to imply necrophilia.
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