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In the 12 years Andrei Chikatilo committed his murders, what made him become the “Butcher of Rostov”? Here's what we know about Andrei Chikatilo.

Andrei Chikatilo: The bloodcurdling tale of the Butcher of Rostov

We tend to forget that some of the world’s most dangerous people lived right among us, acting as if they were completely normal people. Like Andrei Chikatilo, who at the time of his trial, killed at least 52 women and children. Initially a teacher, he was let go after being accused of molesting his students. 

From there, his career as a murderer spiraled downward, leaving a bloody trail behind him. In the 12 years Chikatilo committed his murders, what made him become the “Butcher of Rostov”? 

An abusive home led to good academics

Chikatilo was born at the height of Joseph Stalin’s regime, to two farmers who could barely feed themselves, let alone children. Eating leaves and grass to fill themselves, Chikatilo was weak and timid thanks to his hunger. When he and his sister began school, they were the perfect targets for bullying thanks to their appearance.

Yet, Chikatilo failed to let that stop him, nor his near-sightedness, from being a good student. Teachers of Chikatilo’s had nothing but high praise for his work. But as his public school days drew to a close and Chikatilo applied for college, he was denied due to his grades still not being good enough for university. He eventually enrolled in a vocational school.

Moving to a new life

After serving time in the army, Chikatilo relocated to Rostov-on-Don. Moving into an apartment, he lived with his sister for a short amount of time, and also enrolled in Rostov University. Studying Russian literature and philology, he graduated in 1970, becoming a teacher in Novoshakhtinsk.

While studying at university, Chikatilo got married in 1963, through an arranged marriage with an acquaintance of his sister. The couple had two kids together, and they seemed like a happy family.

Teaching the wrong things

As a teacher, Chikatilo was known for his lenient nature and failed to keep control of his unruly class. But at the same time, he was sexually assaulting several of his female students throughout his teaching career, from trying to walk in on girls undressing in their dormitory, to intentionally locking students in the classroom to fondle them. 

Jumping from school to school, Chikatilo continued to teach around the town of Novoshakhtinsk. By 1981, he was fired once again for sexual abuse, and ended up leaving teaching forever to become a supply clerk at a factory. 

Travelling murder show

With his new job, Chikatilo found himself travelling around all of the Soviet Union for work. It was the perfect way for Chikatilo to go on a murder spree without anyone thinking it was him. His first victim was in Shakhty, the town he moved in for work. Murdering a 9-year-old, he ended up ejaculating while stabbing her.

From there, he realized after struggling with erections for most of his life, he can achieve sexual satisfaction through murder. While initially, he resisted these urges, he gave into it again three years later in 1981.

Between 1978 and 1984, Chikatilo murdered nearly 30 people around the country in various attacks. In 1984, Chikatilo was apprehended by police after following young women around Rostov. Initially, police thought he was guilty of a young boy’s murder as his description matched that of witnesses. But his blood type didn’t match, so he was dropped lower on the list.

Short jail time, long streak of murder

During this investigation though, they reinvestigated Chikatilo for theft at a former employer. He was found guilty and given one year in prison, but left on parole after 3 months. 

After being released in December 1984, Chikatilo laid low for a little bit, but began killing again in August 1985. But as he began his murder streak again, the police kicked up their investigation into the various murders, connecting them to one man. As police released the psychological profile that matched Chikatilo, he followed the news to keep an eye on the police. 

Laying low for the rest of 1985, both the police and Chikatilo woke back in 1986 after new victims appeared that matched the murder style of previous murders. But in 1990, Chikatilo was nearly caught red-handed: an undercover officer saw him coming out of the woods after killing his last victim, with an injury to his hand, and a red spot on his cheek. 

Catching a rapist and murderer

After writing his report up, the undercover officer realized Chikatilo fit the profile seen perfectly, and passed his information over to the police. Once his victim was found, they knew he was a top suspect. Placing him on watch, undercover officers saw him try to lure young women and children on various transit around town.

Arrested outside a cafe, Chikatilo’s semen was tested to verify his blood type. With a positive match, Chikatilo was interrogated endlessly until a confession was given. On November 30th, 1990, Chikatilo confessed to 34 of the 36 murders police had connected to his crimes. 

With no surprise to anyone, his trial failed to prove insanity and he was given a death sentence. Chikatilo was executed on February 14th, 1994, with a single gunshot to the head. The “Butcher of Rostov” terrorized the USSR for years, but his crimes were finally punished properly. 

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