Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo
Updated: May 11
Criminal Behaviours explores one of the worlds worst serial killers, The Butcher of Rostov; Andrei Chikatilo.
Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo
This article explores the childhood and early life of Andrei Chikatilo, leading up to his crimes, and his convictions. There will be a brief discussion throughout regarding possible theories into his drives and motivations, and some of the biological implications for his behaviours.
Warning this case contains content of a disturbing nature involving violence against children, violent sexual deviancy and cannibalism, those with a sensitive disposition may not want to read on.
AKA - The Red Ripper & The Rostov Ripper.
Born: 16 October 1936, Yabluchnyk in the Sumy Oblast of Ukraine SSR.
Died: 14 February 1994, in Novocherkassk, Russia age 57
Height: 5'9" Slim build
Victims: 52 convicted; 53 tried; 56+ claimed
Span of crimes: 12 years - 22 December 1978 – 6 November 1990
Nature of crimes: Murder, Cannibalism, Torture, Mutilation, Indignity to a corpse, paedophilia, Rape, Kidnap, sexual assault
Victim pool: Boys/Girls age 18 & under. Women age 18-44
Education: Rostov State University (1970), Institut Puti, Stroitel'stva I Sooruzheniy Rossiyskogo Universiteta Transporta - Studied Russian Literature MA.
Occupations: Telephone engineer, School teacher, Supply clerk
Andrei was raised in the Ukraine during the time Joseph Stalin was in power he lived through the Russian famine during the 1930's for many years the country suffered including his own parents.
When the Ukraine asked for a lesser quota demand on food collections Starlin responded by sealing off the borders of the Ukraine, preventing any food from entering at all. This had a devastating effect on the people living there.
World war II came and Germany was closing in setting up blockades cutting them off for just over 870 days causing Russia and connecting areas to plunge into deprivation.
Along with the harsh communist rules already taking effects in places such as the Ukraine many of the people started to starve eating pets and whatever they could to survive including other people.
There were thousands of reported cases of cannibalism "Approximately 1,500 Leningraders were arrested for cannibalism." and that was just one city, there were many cases that went unreported, so the actual numbers of cannibal related deaths is unknown.
The Chikatilo family would fall victim to such a fate previous to his birth Andrei had an older brother, but Andrei would never get to meet him as he was cannibalised by starving villagers when he wandered off as a young child, an example of the harsh reality of the time.
Although Andrei had a tough Childhood it was no different to the other children who were living in this situation.
So this type of thing was regular by the standards of the soviet during the famine.
The Chikatilo Family
Andrei suffered with a condition called hydrocephalus causing him to start wetting the bed, this condition would give him problems throughout his life.
Andrei's mother was a strict woman, she would often beat the children and give them harsh punishments. She would recount the death of her son to her other children regularly telling them how he got eaten by people in the village, and that they need to be careful the same thing doesn't happen to them.
His father was not present for much of this time after leaving to fight in the war as a soviet soldier. However he was captured by the Nazis and put into a prisoner of war camp. It was discovered later on that his father got captured on purpose because he did not want to fight in the war. Something seen as cowardly and weak which ultimately led to him being labelled a traitor.
Once news of this reached the Chikatilo family and other villagers Andrei was ruthlessly teased by his peers at school for his father not being an adequate soldier. This really bothered him and he felt isolated.
In spite of feeling like an outcast his grades were good in school and he had a keen interest in politics.
Adolescence into Adulthood
Early on in his teens during puberty onward he had problems with women and could never seem to attract anyone often getting rejected when he did try.
He also had impotence issues as a result of his hydrocephalus condition which didn't help him in regard to wooing the opposite sex.
This left him feeling emasculated and like his only options were masturbation something he eventually became addicted to, but not satisfied with.
Around the age of 15 Andrei met a girl he liked, he had his first sexual encounter although not the normal type of encounter you or I would have.
He made sexual advances to her which she denied, out of frustration he overpowered her and wrestled her to the ground forcing himself upon her.
Once he had control of her he became sexually aroused, not because of the girl but because he had dominated her. This really excited him, he realised that he could overcome his impotence by over powering women meaning he could get sexual gratification, something that before he could not get.
After this encounter he would seek out to sexually dominate in order to reach arousal and sexual satisfaction chasing this same feeling of heightened sexuality with each victim.
By 1955 he wanted to move on from the town he had grown up in to get away from all the bad things that had happened there. He knew one way out would be to study, so he applied for a place at Moscow University to study Law but didn't pass the entry test.
Instead he decided to move to Rostov, in Russia and got a job as a telephone engineer hoping to study while he was living there.
Even living in new surroundings without his previous stigmas he still had problems meeting and dating women.
In an attempt to help him find a potential love interest his sister moved in with him, not to long after she had done this she introduced him to a lady call Fayina they got on quite well and started to date, eventually getting married in 1963.
Andrei and his wife Fayina
They managed to conceive, not in the usual methods due to Andreis impotence issue but they got around it by improvising and had 2 children.
Outwardly they appeared to be a normal everyday family.
He had continued to study gaining three degrees while also working, and being an active political member of the communist party. Despite these achievements the anger and hatred for others grew rapidly, a jealous rage inside of him started to surface. He felt cheated in life of the one thing he really wanted but couldn't seem to get.
"He felt the world had somehow inflicted a tremendous injustice on him, any low life could enjoy the pleasures of sexuality, the joys of love, but he Chikatilo; the educated; the brilliant; the special; the genius, could not and that was the source of his fundamental rage" Lourie, R.(2017)
In 1970 Andrei decided to change jobs, he got a teaching job in a secondary school, this is where his desires to hurt and overpower people would become a reality, he started to molest young boys and girls at the school.
Eventually during 1974 there was a complaint of sexual misconduct on a minor put against him. Rather than report him for the offence the head of the school told him to leave and he lost his job. This was one of the first instances of his clear interest in minors.
After this he moved his family in a bid to start over, for his wife this meant he could work without the dark cloud of suspicion that lay over their heads from Andreis less than savoury behaviours at his last job. But for Andrei this meant new victims, new plans, ones that would allow him to fulfil his desires in privacy.
He purchased a secret property one his wife and children had no knowledge of, it was a small run down building located in a quiet wooded back street next to a bus station. This would be where he would take his victims.
The Murders and the Implications
In total it is believed that Andrei amassed 53 victims over the span of 12 years, he claims it is probably closer to 56 maybe more. This article won't go into detail about each and every victim, however a few will be discussed to give an idea of the brutality of his crimes, his methods and behaviours during them.
A full list of his victims, with a brief description of each murder can be found at the end of this article, along with references to publications that discuss the crimes in their entirety.
Some of Andrei Chikatilos victims
On 22 December 1978, Andrei killed his (assumed) first victim; 9 year old Yelena Zakotnova. He coaxed her into his secret property, where he attempted to rape her. During the attack he cut her with a knife, this caused him to become very sexually aroused and he ejaculated. Once he was finished he took her body and belongings and dumped her in a river close by, also throwing her items a few yards down from her body.
This was something that was very pleasurable for him, it reinforced his psychological connection between violence and sexual gratification prompting him to seek out more extreme ways to reach that same level of sexual arousal. He had started to plan his next attack Patiently waiting for the perfect moment and the perfect victim.
Although Yelenas blood was found in close proximity to the secret building Chikatilo was renting the police did not look at him as a suspect. There didn't seem to be anything amiss or anything to indicate he was the one responsible for the crime. When the police did look into him, there was no just cause to suspect him.
"From the point of view of the police, he had no criminal record, he was a party member, he had a wife, he had children. He did not fall into any categories that they would be used to looking for criminals in." - Bob Cullen (2017)
Unfortunately Andrei would not be charged for the death of Yelena due to him evading the police after his wife gives him a solid alibi.
They go on to arrest 25 year old, Alexsandr Kravchenko who had previous convictions for rape, he subsequently gives a false confession it is assumed under duress as police brutality to gain confessions were common place in Russia at the time. He was tried and convicted to death for Yelenas murder. Alexsandr was executed for her death in 1984
Andrei decided to lay low for a while and concentrate on his family life and work, he eventually went on to quit his teaching job and take a role as a Supply Clerk for a local company. This job involved him travelling a lot staying in various hotels meaning he was often alone free to do as he pleased. On his hours off he would fill the time seeking out potential victims.
On 3 September 1981, Larisa Tkachenko, 17, became his next victim. He had seen her at a local bus station waiting for a bus back to her boarding school, sparking up conversation he managed to lure her into the wooded area where he attacked her gagging her with earth and leaves, to stop her from screaming, he then started strangling her, and repeatedly stabbed her.
Again he thoroughly enjoyed this release of sexual frustration, mixed with rage and tension. The release was euphoric for Andrei, so much so he knew he wasn't going to stop, he wanted more like a drug he craved its buzz, he craved its release.
"He was angry with humanity, especially with women. He was seeking revenge and he was getting revenge, against the people who rejected him the most" Jack Levin Prof. Criminology
This is where he starts to establish a methodical approach to his choice of victim and the ways he would kill them, his actions would steadily get more brutal. Each incident sharing similarities with the last, but also getting progressively worse in nature.
He would target young vulnerable people who were generally unattended or travelling alone, he also targeted runaways and occasionally the homeless.
Choosing mostly bus and train stations to look for victims to stalk and befriend.
Gaining their trust he would coax them into wooded or overgrown areas off the beat and path and attack them.
Once he had overpowered his victims by threatening them, usually with a knife he would start stabbing them repeatedly in the chest or stomach, not enough to kill them just enough to inflict significant pain.
This was his process for establishing dominance, Andrei would do this early on in the attack causing them sharp, painful and quick injuries like shallow puncture wounds for example, showing his victim he had no problem hurting them if they don't comply. This made it easier for him to control them and also caused him to become aroused.
He would then attempt to rape them, if he was unable to perform he would get angry and use the knife as a substitute for his penis causing serious injuries to his victims. He would then mutilate them in a number of ways such as gouging out their eyes or slicing out tongues in some of the earlier victims, or cutting body parts off such as fingers or nipples, and removing and eating sexual organs in the later victims.
"One thing he wanted to change about himself and couldn't change was his sexual impotence" Bob Cullen (2017)
Although he would later go on to deny that eating the sexual organs was for sexual pleasure and more out of curiosity, this is somewhat questionable.
Given the difficulties of his sexual history it is hard to believe that there wasn't a link to his frustration at his own bodies failures in regards to his sexuality and the working sexual organs of his victims.
They were the literal representation of something he wanted but could not have, something he despised others for having and taking for granted. This hatred consumed him as he consumed their working sexual organs.
It seems he struggles with two identities one that wants to live a normal life with his wife and family. We see this in his multiple attempts at having a fresh start, moving house, change jobs throughout his life, but seemingly can't due to his own emotional detachment and distaste for his biological failings. Then the other identity the one that wants him to commit heinous acts in order to feel something pleasurable and exciting even at the cost of his family or freedom. Identities that rule him in one way or another, ones he tries to change but can't so eventually gives in becoming a slave to each identities desires.
"He does have a struggle, I don't think he just gives himself over to I am evil personified. I think he says what I'm thinking? what I'm wanting to do is not healthy, is not good!"- FBI Profiler Roy Hazelwood