Profile of Andrei Chikatilo, Serial Killer

The infamous murderer was nicknamed "The Butcher of Rostov"

Serial Killer Andrei Chikatilo
Sygma via Getty Images / Getty Images

Andrei Chikatilo, nicknamed "The Butcher of Rostov," was one of the former Soviet Union's most infamous serial killers. Between 1978 and 1990, he is believed to have sexually assaulted, mutilated, and murdered at least fifty women and children. In 1992, he was convicted of 52 counts of murder, for which he received a death sentence.

Fast Facts: Andrei Chikatilo

  • Also Known As: The Butcher of Rostov, The Red Ripper
  • Known For: Serial killer convicted of 52 counts of murder
  • Born: October 16, 1936 in Yabluchne, Ukraine
  • Died: February 14, 1994 in Novocherkassk, Russia

Early Years

Born in 1936 in Ukraine, to impoverished parents, Chikatilo rarely had enough to eat as a boy. In his teens, Chikatilo was an introvert and avid reader and attended rallies and meetings with the Communist Party. At 21, he joined the Soviet Army and served two years, as required by Soviet law. By the early 1970s, Chikatilo was working as a teacher, and that was when he committed his first known sexual assault. Both Chikatilo and his wife, as well as at least one former girlfriend, stated he was impotent.


In 1973, Chikatilo fondled the breasts of a teenage student and then ejaculated on her; a few months later there was a repeat offense against another student. Despite complaints by parents, as well as rumors that he repeatedly masturbated in front of pupils, he was never charged with these crimes. Within a few months, however, the school's director finally told him to either resign or be fired; Chikatilo opted for voluntary resignation. He drifted from one school to another over the next several years, until his career ended in March 1981, when he was accused of molesting students of both sexes. Still, no charges were filed, and he took work as a traveling supply clerk for a factory. By this time, he had already committed at least one murder.

In December 1978, Chikatilo kidnapped and attempted to rape nine-year-old Yelena Zakotnova. Still suffering from impotence, he choked and stabbed her, and then threw her body in the Grushevka River. Later, Chikatilo claimed that he had ejaculated while stabbing Yelena. Police investigators found several pieces of evidence connecting him to Yelena, including blood in the snow near his home, and a witness who saw a man matching his description speaking to the child at her bus stop. However, a laborer who lived nearby was arrested, pushed into a confession, and convicted of the girl's murder. He was eventually executed for the crime, and Chikatilo remained free.

In 1981, twenty-one-year-old Larisa Tkachenko vanished in the city of Rostov. She was last seen exiting the library, and her body was found in a nearby forest the next day. She had been brutally attacked, beaten and strangled to death. In his later confession, Chikatilo said he had attempted intercourse with her but had been unable to achieve an erection. After killing her, he mutilated her body with a sharp stick and his teeth. At the time, however, there was no link between Chikatilo and Larisa.

Nine months later, Lyubov Biryuk, thirteen, was walking home from the store when Chikatilo leaped out of the bushes, grabbed her, tore off her clothes and stabbed her nearly two dozen times. Her body was found two weeks later. Over the next few months, Chikatilo escalated his homicidal urges, killing at least five more young people between the ages of nine and eighteen before the end of 1982.

His typical modus operandi was to approach runaways and homeless children, lure them to an isolated location, and then kill them either by stabbing or strangulation. He violently mutilated the bodies after death, and later said that the only way he could achieve orgasm was by killing. In addition to adolescents of both sexes, Chikatilo also targeted adult women working as prostitutes.


A Moscow police unit began working on the crimes, and after studying the mutilations on the bodies, soon determined that at least four of the homicides were the work of a single killer. As they interrogated potential suspects — many of whom were coerced into confessing to a variety of crimes — more bodies began to surface.

In 1984, Chikatilo came to the attention of Russian police when he was spotted trying to repeatedly talk to young women at bus stations, often rubbing himself up against them. Upon delving into his background, they soon discovered his past history and the rumors about his teaching career years earlier. However, a blood type analysis failed to link him to evidence found on the bodies of several victims, and he was largely left alone.

By the end of 1985, after more murders took place, a man named Issa Kostoyev was appointed to lead the investigation. By now, more than two dozen homicides had been linked as the work of a single person. Cold cases were re-examined and previously questioned suspects and witnesses were interrogated again. Perhaps most importantly, Dr. Alexandr Bukhanovsky, a noted psychiatrist, was given access to all the case files. Bukhanovsky then produced a sixty-five-page psychological profile of the as-yet-unknown killer, the first of its kind in Soviet Russia. One of the key traits in the profile was that the murderer most likely suffered from impotence, and could only achieve arousal by killing; the knife, according to Bukhanovsky, was a substitute penis.

Chikatilo continued to kill for the next several years. Because many of the victims' remains had been discovered near train stations, Kostoyev deployed both undercover and uniformed officers along miles and miles of rail lines, beginning in October 1990. In November, Chikatilo murdered Svetlana Korostik; he was observed by a plainclothes officer as he approached the railway station and washed his hands in a nearby well. In addition, he had grass and dirt on his clothes and a small wound on his face. Although the officer spoke to Chikatilo, he had no reason to arrest him and let him go. Korostik's body was found nearby a week later.

Custody, Conviction, and Death

Police placed Chikatilo under surveillance and saw him continuing to attempt conversations with children and single women at rail stations. On November 20, they arrested him, and Kostoyev began interrogating him. Although Chikatilo repeatedly denied any involvement in the murders, he did write several essays while in custody that were consistent with the personality profile described by Bukhanovsky five years before.

Finally, the police brought Bukhanovsky himself in to talk to Chikatilo, since Kostoyev was getting nowhere. Bukhanovsky read Chikatilo excerpts from the profile, and within two hours, he had a confession. Over the next few days, Chikatilo would confess, in horrifying detail, to thirty-four murders. He later admitted to an additional twenty-two which investigators had not realized were connected.

In 1992, Chikatilo was formally charged with 53 counts of murder and was found guilty of 52 of them. In February 1994, Andrei Chikatilo, the Butcher of Rostov, was executed for his crimes with a single gunshot to the head.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Wigington, Patti. "Profile of Andrei Chikatilo, Serial Killer." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Wigington, Patti. (2021, December 6). Profile of Andrei Chikatilo, Serial Killer. Retrieved from Wigington, Patti. "Profile of Andrei Chikatilo, Serial Killer." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 31, 2023).