Andrei Chikatilo was born and raised in the Ukrainian SSR shortly after the forced collectivization of farms in the USSR had caused famine to break out. It is possible that his elder brother was cannibalized by neighbours during the famine, this has never been conclusively proven. He was a chronic bedwetter, for which he was frequently punished by his parents, both farm labourers. When the Soviet Union entered the Second World War in 1941, Chikatilo's father was drafted, leaving Chikatilo to be cared for by his mother. His younger sister was born while his father was fighting in the war; it is possible she was the product of rape, which Chikatilo may have witnessed. The war years marked Chikatilo's first experiences with brutal violence, witnessing the effects of Blitzkrieg, and found himself both terrified and excited by the violence. He was bullied severely by fellow children throughout his childhood and adolescence due to his social awkwardness, especially around girls. He discovered his chronic impotence in his teens, finding he was able to climax only while attacking a young girl. Though an intelligent child, his grades were not sufficiently high to attend university. In 1957 he joined the military, serving for the compulsory three years of military service and leaving in 1960. Three years later he married, having two children between 1965 and 1969. In 1971 he obtained a degree in Russian literature through a correspondence course, and began teaching.
Chikatilo moved to the small town of Shakhty in September of 1978. Two months later he committed his first murder, luring a 9-year-old girl to a house that he had secretly purchased. He attempted to rape her, but found himself unable to do so. She struggled, and he strangled her, then stabbed her numerous times, finding himself able to achieve sexual release only while stabbing her. He became obsessed with this feeling of release, and strongly felt the urge to repeat it. Despite this, he was able to hold off on committing another murder for three years, before committing his second in September of 1981. He beat and strangled the girl, mutilating her postmortem. Also in 1981 he was fired from his job as a teacher due to complaints that he was molesting students of both sexes, and became a supply supervisor. This was followed by another long break, before he committed his third murder in June of 1982, again using a knife to stab and slash the victim to death. After this he began to devolve rapidly, killing six in the six month period between June and the end of the year. At this point he began to finalize his victim type and modus operandi. He approached children of both sexes, generally runaways and vagrants, as well as adult female prostitutes. Most victims were stabbed or slashed to death, though he still occasionally beat or strangled them. Frequently he gouged the eyes of victims. After the glut of killings in 1982, he did not kill again for six months. Once he had begun again, however, he killed five victims in a four month period. During this time, suspicion did not fall on him at all; indeed, another man was convicted and eventually executed for Chikatilo's first murder. By this point, however, police had begun linking the deaths together, and the investigation became intensive. Despite this, Chikatilo committed two more murders by the end of the year. Between January and September of 1984 he killed fifteen more people. He drew police attention to himself for the first time in September of that year when he was seen attempting to lure women away from a bus station. He was found to be in possession of a knife and rope, among other suspicious materials, as well as matching the physical description of the suspect. Despite this, the evidence was not considered sufficient to hold him, and he was released.
He was later convicted of stealing from his job, however, and was sentenced to a year in prison, of which he served only three months. During his time in prison 23 of his murders were officially attributed to a single killer, and police began to suspect that he had moved out of the area, due to the sudden cessation of the killings. Following his release he did not kill for over seven months, committing another murder at the end of July of 1985, killing again the next month. The investigation into the murders again intensified, with a psychological profile produced and police officers and army officers stationed at train and bus stations. Because of this, Chikatilo did not commit any murders for the whole of 1986. By 1987 he was not able to resist the urge to kill, but was cautious to kill only three times, with each kill occurring outside of the jurisdiction in which the manhunt was ongoing. This was followed by three further murders in 1988, losing the cautiousness that had characterized the previous year, and five further murders in 1989. Nine victims were killed in 1990 before the police developed a snare technique, attempting to funnel the killer to one of the three least-used stations on his typical hunting ground. In early November of 1990, Chikatilo was spotted while leaving the scene of his final murder. An undercover officer noted blood on his cheek, and grass stains on his clothing. The police officer noted his name, and when the body was found a few days later he was placed under surveillance. During the surveillance he was noticed attempting to lure several women and children. He was arrested on November 20th.
He denied committing the murders for several days, during which he was interrogated by the KGB. Eight days after the interrogation began, the psychologist who had created the initial psychological profile of him was brought in to question him. Two hours later, Chikatilo confessed to 36 of the 38 murders that had to that point been linked to him. He also confessed to a further 20 murders that had to this point gone unconnected to the case. In total he was charged with 53 of the 56 murders to which he had confessed. Chikatilo was found to be mentally competent to stand trial in October of 1991. His trial began on April 14th, 1992. During the trial Chikatilo behaved erratically and inappropriately, exposing himself in the courtroom, shouting, and singing. He recanted his confessions to six of the murders, and requested the judge be removed, as he felt that he was prejudiced against him. Despite his frequent attempts to interrupt the trial, it concluded on August 9th, and he was found guilty of 52 of the 53 murders on October 15th. He was sentenced to death. An appeal and request for clemency were denied. He was executed on February 14th, 1994 by a single shot to the back of the head. He was 57.
In Other Media
Chikatilo appears in a number of nonfiction books, as well as a fiction book entitled Child 44. He also appears in the 1995 television movie Citizen X, where he is played by Jeffrey DeMunn. The 2004 film Evilenko is loosely based on the case, with the character based on him played by Malcolm McDowell.