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Andrei Chikatilo: The Butcher

Criminals are among the people who intrigued the attention of public and professionals throughout the history. Intelligent but demented people with cold, violent, and ruthless behavior appear on the front pages of the newspapers and on the daily news. The criminals destroy the life of many people and their families. Alexander Pichushkin, Dennis Nilsen, Charley Ray Hatcher, and Andrei Chikatilo are among the people, who provoked general disruption and panic by bringing horror to the life of communities. The study of the facts, motives and the psychology of the crimes can help to analyze the possible reasons for the terrible actions and to predict crimes in future by reducing the conditions and risk factors for a vulnerable population.

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Andrei Chikatilo, a serial killer, caused horror among the citizens in several districts of Ukraine and Russia at the end of the 20th century. Chikatilo received a nickname the Butcher for the cruelty and penchant for cannibalism. During the last months of his life, Chikatilo tried to persuade the judges that he was the victim of the circumstances that happened in his childhood and adolescence.

The Butcher was born in 1936 in the center of the state known as a "breadbasket" of the USSR (“Andrei Chikatilo biography,” n. d). However, Chikatilo was born during the period of hardship and famine. Later, Chikatilo described his hungry childhood as the time, when he did not know the taste of bread; he stated that he tasted bread until the age of twelve (Jackman, 2014). Chikatilo was weak and short-sighted, thus, he needed to wear thick glasses that did not make him attractive. Moreover, he suffered from hydrocephalus at his birth and he also had the genital-urinary tract problems (including bed-wetting) in adolescence (“Andrei Chikatilo biography,” n. d.). Andrei Chikatilo had a timid nature and became the object of school bullying. In fact, after the World War I, Chikatilo's father returned home after German imprisonment (“Andrei Chikatilo biography,” n. d). The policy of the Soviet Union at that time vilified him as a traitor. Such a condition was one more reason for school bullying and negative attitude of the neighbors. Difficult childhood and lack of positive social interactions led to the cruelty of the murder in Chikatilo's adolescent life. When he reached puberty, he realized that he was unable to achieve an erection or orgasm. The only sexual experience in adolescence accompanied by negative consequences and ridicule from the peers, led to sexually violent acts and distorted sexuality.

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Chikatilo considered himself to be defective in sexual life, thus, he could not find a girl to marry. He started dreaming about torturing all the girls from his neighborhood who treated him with cruelty. Finally, Chikatilo got married to a teacher from the school he worked at. The Chikatilo family had two children, but Andrei was not happy (Jackman, 2014). He wanted to make something important and valuable. Working as a school teacher, the Butcher was attracted to his young students. The school administrators covered the abuse and inappropriate behavior towards the children. However, after several cases of complaints from children and their parents, the administration asked Chikatilo to leave the teaching career. Chikatilo engaged in odd jobs such as supply liaison. Besides, such jobs provided him with an opportunity to find vulnerable individuals for the crimes.

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History of Chikatilo's Crimes

In 1978, Andrei Chikatilo killed his first victim, a nine-year-old girl, by stabbing her to death (Berry-Dee, 2011). After this murder, Chikatilo and his family moved to another city. The butcher changed the job and became a supply clerk. The new position involved traveling all over the region. He could easily find new victims and leave the place of crime. Andrei's second victim was a 17-year-old girl (Berry-Dee, 2011). Chikatilo beat and strangled her to death; he mutilated her body with his teeth. A year later, he found his third victim. From this time on the intervals between murders became shorter. Chikatilo killed and mutilated children and young women without any fear of severe punishment. His victims were easy to manipulate as they were usually represented by runaways, prostitutes and homeless girls. The sadistic murderer found them in quiet and noisy streets, squares, parks and the beaches, cemeteries and forests alongside the roads. In 1984, the police arrested Chikatilo after he killed 15 children and women (Jenkins, n. d.). However, the police could not confirm Chikatilo's involvement in the murders, thus, he was sentenced for a theft of property only and was imprisoned for three months. The pressure of imprisonment and the possibility to be caught made him more careful, and he stopped to commit new crimes till July in 1985 ( Berry-Dee, 2011).

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Chikatilo moved the murders from Rostov-on-Don to Ukraine and Ural. The police did not even combine all of them into one murder case due to the large area of murder activity. In November 1990, Andrei Chikatilo killed his last (36th) victim (Berry-Dee, 2011). This time, the police followed the Butcher and arrested him. However, Chikatilo was not willing to admit anything and rejected any accusation. The police did not find evidence of Chikatilo's connection to the victims. The police tried to persuade Chikatilo to confess as a medical examination could affirm that he was legally insane due to his mental disorder.

The Court

The results of the medical examinations provided the following results: the murderer had a different type of the blood than Chikatilo did. Such results made Andrei assured of his impunity, and Chikatilo insisted that he was not guilty of any crime. Chikatilo acted normally inside the cell: he ate and slept well (Gangster, 2013). Later, Chikatilo tried to escape execution by behaving in the manner of a mentally ill person. To emphasize his mental disorder, the Butcher described some of the crimes in horrifying details. The most terrifying facts introduced by forensic evidence suggested that the savagery took place while the majority of the victims were still alive. They were suffering from the pain and torture during the last minutes of their life (Gangster, 2013). Later, a senior psychiatrist declared Chikatilo to be a sado-sexual psychopath. During the court trial, the killer enjoyed the details of the murders presented by the officials. While the relatives broke down in tears and fainted, the killer smiled and laughed enjoying the time of his prominence (Berry-Dee, 2011). Moreover, Chikatilo interrupted the trial by screaming, ratting the bars of the cell, taking off the trousers and refusing to answer the questions. The butcher tried to act the typical schizophrenic symptoms. Later, Chikatilo would confess that he was "a mistake of nature, a mad beast" (Berry-Dee, 2011).

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The parents and relatives of the victims demanded immediate execution of Chikatilo. They considered him to be an animal, who did not deserve a human trial. Andrei's wife could not believe that a devoted father, who loved his children, could perpetrate such abominably cruel acts to other small kids. Taking into consideration the monstrous crimes Chikatilo committed during twelve years, the court rendered the only verdict he deserved. Chikatilo was sentenced to death. However, the parents of the victims considered such a verdict to be a moderate punishment for such horrific actions. In February of 1994, the team of executioners took Andrei Chikatilo from his cell to a sound-proofed room and executed him with a single gunshot behind the ear. The final sentence Chikatilo stated is the following:"and now my brain should be taken apart piece by piece and examined. So, there should not be any others like me" (Gangster, 2013).

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The Psychology of the Killer

The cruelty of Chikatilo's crimes made him one of the most horrifying criminals in the world known by the nickname the Butcher of Rostov. A calm and sober-minded man, who wore a suit and a tie, held a briefcase in his hands and looked intelligent, lost his human semblance and turned into "a man from the hell", one of the most monstrous and notorious killers with a terrible grimace on his face. Such a split of personality allowed Chikatilo to continue horrific murders and avoid the punishment for more than a decade. Moreover, the image of a positive person helped him to find new victims for his crimes and to receive their sympathy and confidence.

The team of psychiatrists performed examinations and gathered a 60-page murder charge report on Chikatilo (Gangster, 2013). The professionals considered the Butcher to be the classic necrosadist, who received sexual pleasure from every act of murder. Similar to all the necrosadists, he "needed to watch his victims die in order to achieve sexual gratification"(Berry-Dee, 2011). Moreover, Chikatilo began to chew the pieces of the victims' flesh to control and lessen his sexual frustration. Such actions present Chikatilo to be a criminal psychopath with impulsive inclinations, blunted emotions and inability to feel guilt. In some cases, Chikatilo confessed that he ate the eyes, nipples, tongues and other parts of the victims' bodies. Chikatilo linked such acts of cannibalism to the taste he remembered since his childhood. With each murder, he was slowly losing the sense of self-control. Every next case became more horrid and cruel than the previous ones. The psychiatrists confirmed that he often acted against his will.

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The case of Chikatilo is a bright example of the impact of circumstances on the personality. The lack of positive emotions during childhood and the cases of cruelty and cannibalism during hungry years of the 1930s made Chikatilo a monstrous criminal with blunted emotions. The study of Chikatilo's case can help to reduce the risk factors and prevent such horrifying crimes in future.

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