|“||I am a mistake of nature, a mad beast...||”|
Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo, a.k.a. The Rostov Ripper, was a prolific Russian "vampirist"-type cannibalistic, pedophilic, ephebophilic, necrophilic, and hebephilic serial killer, brief spree killer, and enucleator responsible for at least 52 murders that occurred between 1978 to 1990.
Chikatilo was born on October 16, 1936, in the Ukrainian part of the Soviet Union during Stalin's regime. Due to the agricultural plans, starvation was rampant and stories about cannibalism circulated. At one point, Chikatilo was told by his mother, Anna, that his older brother, Stepan, was kidnapped, killed and cannibalized by starved neighbors, though the story has never been verified, nor has the claim that Chikatilo even had a brother. Both his parents were farm laborers who shared a single room hut with him, forcing him to also share a bed with them. A frequent bed wetter, Chikatilo was often beaten by his mother as punishment. It was discovered later in life that he had been born with brain damage that affected his ability to control seminal and bladder emissions. When the war began, Chikatilo's father, Roman, was drafted into the Red Army and the rest of the family was left in the crossfire of the German Blitz. In 1943, Anna Chikatilo gave birth to a baby girl. Given the timeline of her husband's departure, the child was apparently conceived outside of marriage (some theorize that she was raped by a German soldier in front of Chikatilo). When the war ended, Roman Chikatilo was placed in a Russian prison camp for having surrendered in combat and his son forced to denounce his father as a coward publicly.
Chikatilo's social awkwardness and self-hatred became worse during his adolescence years when he turned out to suffer from chronic impotence. His condition affected his romantic life and ruined his first attempt at a relationship when he was 23. Awkward and withdrawn, he was generally a good student, though he failed his entrance exam to the Moscow State University. After finishing his compulsory military service, he became a telephone engineer in 1960. In 1963, he married a woman to whom he was introduced by his sister. Though they had a minimal sex life, they conceived a son and a daughter together. In 1971, Chikatilo earned a degree in Russian literature through a correspondence course and got a teaching position at a local school. Though he was often accused of child molestation, he managed to hold onto the job for almost ten years. In 1978, he accepted a new position in Shakty and moved there. While he lived alone there, waiting for his family to arrive, he began having pedophilic fantasies and would spy on children from a hut by the street. On December 21 the same year, he committed his first known murder, abducting nine-year-old Yelena Zabotnova and stabbing her to death in the woods, ejaculating in the process. He had intended to rape her, but couldn’t achieve an erection due to his impotence.
Killings, Capture, and Execution
Over the following 12 years, Chikatilo committed over 50 known murders. Because reports of crimes like serial murder and rape were greatly suppressed by Soviet authorities in the state-controlled media, stories began taking a life of their own; among the rumors that circulated was that the victims were killed and mutilated by a werewolf. The murders weren’t publicized until August 1984, by which time Chikatilo had killed at least 30 people. He was suspected of killing Yelena Zabotnova and had been seen with her, but because another man confessed to the murder under torture and was consequently executed, Chikatilo was able to continue killing. In September 1984, he was arrested after soliciting a prostitute, having been seen approaching a number of women at the Rostov bus station. His briefcase was searched and found to contain a kitchen knife, a towel, a rope and a jar of petroleum jelly. Unfortunately, his blood type did not come back a match to the semen found on the bodies, forcing the investigators to release him. This has never been fully explained and is sometimes believed to have been the result of a clerical error. Other sources claim that it was because he was a non-secretor, which meant his blood type wouldn't be determinable from his semen. Weeks after his arrest, he was expelled from the Communist party after being convicted of stealing from his workplace and sentenced to three months in jail.
In November 1990, Chikatilo was stopped and questioned when coming out of the area in which his final victim, Svetlana Korostik, was found. On November 14, the day after the remains were discovered, he was formally arrested and interrogated. Over the following two weeks, he confessed to as many as 57 murders, of which the investigators had only attributed 36 to him. The case went to trial on April 14, 1992. Chikatilo had to be placed inside an iron cage when on the stand to protect him from the family members of his victims. His behavior during the proceedings was bizarre, to say the least; twice he pulled down his pants, exposed himself and shouted that he was not a homosexual, he claimed to be pregnant and lactating at some points and alternated between boredom and anger. He also denied being guilty of several murders to which he had already confessed while confessing to unknown ones. When the prosecutor was about to deliver the final argument, Chikatilo broke into song and had to be removed from the courtroom. When he was brought in and offered a moment to speak, he said nothing. Though the defense tried to claim he was insane, a group of court-appointed psychiatrists disagreed. On October 14, 1992, Chikatilo was found guilty of 52 murders; 21 males and 31 females. On February 14, 1994, he was executed with a single shot to the head, his last words apparently being "Don't blow my brains out! The Japanese want to buy them!"
"What I did was not for sexual pleasure. Rather, it brought me some peace of mind."
Chikatilo targeted children and teenagers of both genders, and also young-to-middle-aged women. He would usually approach them at train and bus stations using some simple ruse, such as promising them money, drugs, alcohol, or (in the case of his child victims) toys and candy, lure them to a nearby forest, tie them up with rope, and kill them by stabbing them with a knife in order to gain sexual release.
He often mutilated them, such as gouging their eyes out because he believed they contained a snapshot of the last thing they saw (he stopped doing this after he learned that it wasn't true), eviscerating their stomachs, chewing off their noses, and cutting out tongues and genitals. When he tortured his male victims, he often fantasized that they were his prisoners and that his actions made him a hero. On one occasion, he actually bit a nipple off of a young female victim and swallowed it, causing him to ejaculate. Sometimes, he stuffed his victims' mouths with mud and leaves to muffle their screams (similar to fellow serial killer Arthur Shawcross). He often cannibalized their remains and sometimes drank their blood.
A profile of Chikatilo made by psychiatrist Aleksandr Bukhanovsky said that he was a sexual deviant of average intelligence who was approximately 5'10" and around 25-50 years old, with a shoe size of 10 or more and a common blood type. He probably suffered from some form of sexual inadequacy and brutalized his victims in order to compensate for it. He is/was likely married, but was a sadist who could only achieve sexual arousal by seeing his victims suffer. Because many of the killings occurred on weekdays near mass transportation areas and across the entire Rostov Oblast, his work required him to travel regularly. Based upon the days of the week when the killings occurred, he was most likely tied to a production schedule.
- Chikatilo seems to have been the inspiration for the 2008 novel (and later its 2015 film adaptation) Child 44, which takes place in the Soviet Union in the early 1950s and features a series of murders of similar nature and circumstances to Chikatilo's.
On Criminal Minds
- Season One
- "Machismo" - Chikatilo was first mentioned when his case was compared to that of Pablo Vargas, the episode's unsub, and appears to have been based on him - Both were serial killers who had a managing job in a factory and were very shy and insecure with other people (particularly with women), felt mocked and humiliated by them, had a traumatic relationship with his mother, and were sexually impotent, only managing to ejaculate when he stabbed his victims to death in fits of rage because of their impotence. Both also committed sex crimes against young women prior to their murders.
- Season Two
- Season Six
- "Compromising Positions" - Chikalito was mentioned as an example of serial killers who were piquerists, i.e. they derived sexual pleasure from the act of stabbing.
- Season Seven
- Season Eight
- "Broken" - While not directly mentioned or referenced in this episode, Chikatilo appears to have been an inspiration for the episode's unsub, Paul Westin - Both were serial killers who lured women, attempted to have sex with them, then violently stabbed them to death when they couldn't be aroused by them.
- "The Gathering" - While not directly mentioned or referenced in this episode, Chikatilo appeared to have been an inspiration the episode's unsub, Mark Jackson - Both were serial killers who had parental figures who abused them (Chikatilo was abused by his mother, Jackson by his stepfather) and had a similar M.O. of targeting women, cutting their tongues out, and stabbing them to death.
- Season Eleven
- "A Badge and a Gun" - While not directly mentioned or referenced in this episode, Chikatilo appears to have been an inspiration for the episode's unsub, Andrew Meeks - Both were spree killers (Chikatilo briefly) with similar first names, frequently wetted themselves as children, were abused by a parental figure as a result (Meeks' stepfather and Chikatilo's mother, respectively), committed an assault in their adolescence, primarily targeted women (though Chikatilo also killed boys while Meeks killed one man and attempted to kill several more), strangled them (though Chikatilo mostly stabbed his victims), and were driven by sexual deviance they experienced in their adolescence (Chikatlo could only be aroused by causing pain, while Meeks developed a fetish for confined spaces).
- "Tribute" - Chikalito was mentioned as one of the serial killers whose M.O.s were copied by copycat serial killer Michael Lee Peterson. In this crime, Michael murdered a ten-year-old girl (in reference to Chikalito's first victim Lena Zakotnova). Some of the information the BAU provided about Chikalito seem to have been taken from this very wiki.
On Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders
- Season Two
- "The Ripper of Riga" - While Chikatilo was never directly mentioned or referenced on Beyond Borders, he appears to have been an inspiration for the episode's unsub, Oleg Antakov - Both were Russian serial killers who bit chunks of flesh out of at least some of their victims (though Chikatilo actually used his teeth while Antakov used a device), were active for several decades, and were given nicknames with the words "Ripper" and a city beginning with the letter "R" in them. Also the backstory of Garrett collaborating unofficially with Boris to identify Antakov seems to be a loose allusion to forensic analyst Viktor Burakov's request to collaborate with the FBI during the investigation of the Rostov Ripper case, which was infamously turned down by the Soviet government. Galina Glazunov's contempt for criminal profiling seems likewise inspired by the popular idea that Chikatilo was free to kill for years because the Soviet government refused to admit that a serial killer could exist in their country and thought serial killers were exclusively an American phenomenon.
- Wikipedia's article about Chikatilo
- A Biography Channel documentary about Chikatilo - Part 1
- Evil Beyond Belief's article about Chikatilo
- 101 Crimes of the Century by Alan J. Whitaker (2008)
- TruTV's Crime Library articles
- The Killer Book of Serial Killers (2009)
- Radford University's summary of Chikatilo's life
- Twisted Minds article about Chikatilo's murders
- Murderpedia's article about Chikatilo
- lesvampires.org's article on Chikatilo