Although police have the man that they think is the notorious Butcher of Rostov in custody, they have very little in the way of physical evidence linking their suspect, Andrei Chikatilo, to the murders. They can hold him in custody for ten days under Soviet Law.
After his arrest, Andrei Chikatilo made a statement to police proclaiming his innocence; he even complained to them that he had been arrested in connection with these murders previously.
The authorities found a crucial piece of evidence when they strip-searched Chikatilo, one of his fingers was severely injured. When doctors examined the wound, they determined that the injury was a human bite. This wound was vital because it was a potential physical connection between Chikatilo, and one of the last victims: Viktor Tishchenko. As you recall, authorities noted that a considerable struggle had taken place when they examined the area where the Butcher murdered Viktor.
Chikatilo denied any involvement, but police were even more suspicious when they determined that he had not visited a doctor for his finger, which was both broken and missing the fingernail.
When police searched Chikatilo’s personal belongings, they found a knife and two pieces of rope. They took a new blood sample from Chikatilo and placed him in a holding cell to await interrogation. Police also put a KGB informer in the cell who they tasked with gathering information.
Chikatilo’s blood test results came back, and confirmed the results from the 1984 test; his blood was Type A. The police, convinced that they had their man, obtained a semen sample from him since that was the fluid that they had found on the victims. The blood type from the semen came back as Type AB, confirming for them that Andrei Chikatilo was the Butcher of Rostov.
On November 21st, the special procurator assigned to the case, Issa Kostoyev, began Chikatilo’s interrogation. Reportedly, the police’s strategy was to convince Andrei that he was mentally ill and that they wanted to help him. They wanted him to hope that he would not be prosecuted to the full extent of the law by reason of insanity.
Issa interrogated Chikatilo for eight days, and although he confessed to the molestation of his students, he denied any involvement in the murders. Throughout his interrogation he wrote essays for Issa, and they revealed psychological symptoms that matched the psychological profile that Dr. Bukhanovsky had created in 1985.
After eight days, forensic analyst Viktor Burakov and Mikhail Fetisov, the head of the Moscow Police task force, asked Dr. Bukhanovsky to join the interrogation. Rather than questioning Chikatilo, Dr. Bukhanovsky read excerpts from the psychological profile out loud; within two hours, Andrei Chikatilo broke down and confessed that he was the Butcher of Rostov.
On the 29th of November, the day before the end of his ten-day holding period, Andrei Chikatilo fully confessed to thirty-four of the thirty-six murders that had been linked together. The murders of the two victims he did not claim, Lyubov Golovakha and Irina Pogoryelova, were similar to his crimes but authorities were not certain that they had been committed by the same killer.
Chikatilo provided police with extremely detailed descriptions of each of the murders. These descriptions included information that only the killer knew. For example, he told police that one of the victims, Anna Lemesheva, told him as he was assaulting her that “Bars” would find him. Anna’s fiancee had the word “Bars” tattooed on his hand.
When asked why he had gouged the eyes of his early victims, he told police that, at the time, he believed that their eyes would hold an image of their killer. Chikatilo told police that he had tasted the blood of some of his victims and that when he did, he “felt chills and shook all over.”
He also confessed to tearing at parts of some of his victims’ bodies with his teeth. He specifically told police that he would remove the victim’s tongue and run around the body while holding it above his head.
Andrei stated that, on multiple occasions, he had chewed on the uterus of his female victims, and the genitalia of some male victims. He told police that he would discard these organs, but also admitted that he had swallowed the nipples and tongues of some victims.
In addition to the thirty-four known victims, Andrei Chikatilo detailed a further twenty-two murders to police. He led authorities to the body of Aleksey Khobotov and two other victims. Police took him to each of the crime scenes, and he re-enacted each of the murders in detail.
Three of the fifty-six victims could not be found or identified, and as such, police charged Andrei Chikatilo with the murders of fifty-three women and children.
Starting in August of 1991, Chikatilo began a two-month psychiatric evaluation to determine whether he would be mentally competent to stand trial. The doctor who examined him, Dr. Andrei Tkachenko, noted that Chikatilo suffered from physiological issues, most likely due to prenatal brain damage.
Even though the psychological examination revealed that he had borderline personality disorder with sadistic features, doctors determined that he was fit to stand trial.
The highly-publicized trial commenced on April 14th, 1992, authorities charged Andrei Chikatilo with fifty-two counts of murder and five counts of sexual assault for the attacks he perpetrated on his students in the 70s. After he read the full indictment out loud and detailed the crimes, Judge Leonid Akubzhanov announced that he intended to conduct an open trial stating: “Let this trial at least teach us something, so that this will never happen anytime or anywhere again.”
The Judge did not pull any punches during the trial and often berated both Chikatilo and the investigating team for their failures. In May, Chikatilo withdrew six of his confessions, and his lawyer requested a second psychological evaluation, the Judge denied this request.
For the next three days, Andrei refused to answer any further questions from the prosecution, his lawyer, or the Judge. On the fourth day, Chikatilo told the court that he intended to give no further testimony.
Both the defense and prosecution requested that the judge recuse himself. The prosecutor, Nikolai Gerasimenko, stated in his request that the judge had prejudged Chikatilo as guilty, had insulted all parties involved in the investigation and trial, and had committed various procedural violations. The court did not remove Judge Akubzhanov, despite the requests.
In October, after a seven-month trial, the jurors and Judge Akubzhanov found Andrei Chikatilo guilty on all fifty-eight counts on the indictment.
The Judge formally sentenced Andrei Chikatilo to death for each of the fifty-two counts of murder, in addition to eighty-six years for the sexual assaults. Upon hearing the Judge’s sentence, Andrei reportedly became irate, shouting insults and kicking the bench in his cell across the cage.
Judge Akubzhanov made the following statement when reading out Chikatilo’s sentence: “Taking into consideration the horrible misdeeds of which he is guilty, this court has no alternative but to impose the only sentence that he deserves. I, therefore, sentence him to death.”
Chikatilo, of course, appealed his sentence. He did this twice, the first was to the Russian Supreme Court in 1993, and the second was a direct appeal to President Boris Yeltsin in 1994; both were summarily rejected.
On Valentine’s Day, February 14th, 1994, Andrei Chikatilo: The Butcher of Rostov, was taken from his cell on death row to a soundproof room. He was executed with a single gunshot behind his right ear. Prison authorities buried Chikatilo in an unmarked grave in the prison cemetery.
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