The Gruesome Story Of Andrei Chikatilo: The "Red Ripper Of Rostov" Who Brutally Murdered 56 Victims

Updated: Jul 30

Andrei Chikatilo murdered 56 people, but despite the mounting evidence against him, he was arrested and let go several times before he was finally convicted. Dubbed the "Red Ripper of Rostov" he became Russia's worst serial killer.

Andrei Chikatilo confessed to the murder of 56 people, dubbed as the "Red Ripper of Rostov"
Andrei Chikatilo confessed to the murder of 56 people, dubbed as the "Red Ripper of Rostov"

In 1982, the Russian police were on a manhunt for a serial killer. A huge number of bodies had turned up, all killed and mutilated in the same fashion, this led the police to believe it was the crimes of one person, and they knew it was extremely likely that they would kill again.

The authorities believed that the culprit was a young man, most likely in his 30's and probably a grifter. They weren't on the lookout for a local, former military man in his 50s, and that is exactly what the Red Ripper of Rostov, Andrei Chikatilo, was.

The Early Life Of Andrei Chikatilo

Andrei Chikatilo was born in 1936 during the mass famine in the Ukrainian SSR. His life started out in a one-room hut for farmers who were struggling to meet financial stability during the agricultural recession.

He led a lonely and unhappy childhood, he was also tormented by the thought that his older brother had been kidnapped and cannibalised by the neighbours.

His school life was difficult, he was small and weak, which made him a target for bullies. However, most of his problems at school stemmed from the fact his father was taken prisoner during World War II. His father was labeled a "coward," and for this, Andrei had some harsh reprisals from his peers.

The one thing he could take from his schooling was the fact he was exceptionally intelligent, and he graduated at the top of his class.

His childhood years impacted him intensely, the bullying he had received during his schooling turned him into a self-hating awkward man. During his adolescence, he got into several relationships, all of which ended in ridicule when he was unable to perform sexually. He was mocked for his personality, his small stature, and his father, his impotence just added fuel to the fire and gave his peers something else to mock him about. At one point Andrei Chikatilo, so convinced that all the girls were talking about him behind his back, attempted to take his own life.

Life As An Adult For Andrei Chikatilo

In 1957, it appeared that the life of Andrei Chikitilo was taking a turn and things were falling into order when he was drafted into the Soviet Army. He served his conscripted time exceptionally, after completing it he joined the Communist party and held an unblemished work record.

Several years later he married a woman to whom he had been introduced to by his younger sister. Despite the concerns of his impotence, he had two children with her, a son and a daughter.

Andrei Chikitilo began studying courses in Russian literature and even completed a five-year course on the subject at Rostov University, it wasn't long before he found himself in a teaching job at a local boarding school.

From the outside it would have appeared that Chikitilo's life was on course and moving in the right direction, however, it soon became apparent that the weak, bullied young boy that he used to be was still haunting him inside.

When his students stepped out of line and he felt as though he was losing control, he retaliated, sexually assaulting two of them. Andrei Chikitilo went unpunished for both of the sexual assaults and was still allowed to continue his role at the school, one of which included patrolling the girl's dormitories.

The school eventually was forced to fire him after more complaints of sexual abuse started cropping up, he only lost his job though, he wasn't punished any further for what he had allegedly done to the students.

It was after these assaults that something seemed to trigger Andrei Chikatilo, living his life as he did and quietly taking ridicule was something he was no longer willing to carry on with, now he was out for revenge.

Andrei Chikatilo's Killing Spree Begins

Although it was never proven, as another man was arrested and convicted of it, many people believe that the first murder victim of Andrei Chikatilo was that of a nine-year-old girl called Yelena Zakotnova, who was killed in September of 1978. Spots of blood from Yelena were found close to his home and her backpack was discovered on the riverbank at the end of his street, an eyewitness also described a man who perfectly fitted the description of Andrei Chikatilo being at a bus stop with the young girl just before she was killed.

In this instance, another man who had previously been convicted of a similar crime was arrested, and convicted of the murder of Yelena Zakotnova, despite him having an airtight alibi.

If, as popular belief states, Andrei Chikatilo was responsible for the murder, it seemed to give him the belief that killing was easy and even easier to get away with. Not long after the murder of Yelena Zakotnova, more bodies started showing up, all bearing the same type of signs of torture that the young nine-year-old had endured.

All of the victims appeared to be transients, children, or runaways, those that Chikatilo believed would be easy targets. He started picking them up at train stations and bus stops, giving them all the same treatment.

Initially, he would stab them, then gag them to keep them quiet. He also became known for mutilating their bodies with his teeth, as well as having sexual intercourse with many of them before covering them with dirt and leaves in a bid to hide his crimes.

A crime scene photo from one of the murders of Andrei Chikatilo
A crime scene photo from one of the murders of Andrei Chikatilo

Perhaps the most disturbing extra to his crimes was a move that would become his signature. Before he left the corpse of his victims, he began gouging their eyes out. He later claimed that he was terrified that the image of his face would be imprinted on the eyes of his victims so he removed them to prevent his identity from being discovered.

In total, Andrei Chikatilo committed 56 murders, almost all of which were young girls, though several of them were boys.

Despite his high body count and gruesome killing spree, it took the police years before they managed to convict Chikatilo. He was arrested multiple times during a four-year period but was released each time due to various loopholes.

One of his releases came after the police discovered that his blood type did not match the semen sample that was taken from one of the victims. It was later discovered that he was a "non-secretor," which meant that his blood type was actually different from his other bodily fluids.

In 1990, 12 years after his violent killing spree had begun, Andrei Chikatilo was arrested, this time he was never released.

After the police had failed on multiple occasions to get any information during questioning with Chikatilo, a psychiatrist by the name of Dr. Bukhanovski suggested the authorities allow him to question the killer.

Dr. Bukhanovski approached the interrogation under the guise of wanting to understand the mind of a killer. Andrei Chikatilo was flattered that after all these years someone had actually taken an interest in what he had to offer and very quickly offered up a detailed confession.

Chikatilo confessed to 56 murders, of which 53 were verified. The police were in shock, as they only knew of 36 murders and believed the killer to be much younger than Chikatilo.

Following his interrogation with the psychiatrist, he was declared fit to stand trial, however, his behaviour in court was much different from the composed man that Bukhanovski had first come in contact with.

During the trial, Chikatilo was held inside an iron cage to keep him away from the jury. It was reported that he frequently burst into song, dropped his trousers, and spoke utter gibberish.

The judge ignored his manic behaviour and declared that Andrei Chikatilo was guilty and sentenced him to death. In 1994, on Valentine's Day, Andrei Chikatilo was executed, in what the judge referred to as "the only sentence that he deserved."

Now you have read the story of Russia's most brutal serial killer, make sure you read the story of Edward Paisnel, The Best of Jersey.


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