shocker: meet human eating cannibal


There was no Internet in Russia in 1978, no cannibal chat rooms, no place for Andrei Chikatilo to post confessions of rage and fantasy or to offer a recipe for delicacies made of human flesh.
In silence, he went about satisfying his yearnings in a 12-year spree of rape, murder and cannibalism. At least 53 people, and some believe more, died directly at his hands. Another man died indirectly, wrongly convicted, and executed, for a killing later claimed by Chikatilo. Three more killed themselves.
So quiet was he about his grisly pastime that even his wife did not suspect what the father of her two children had been up to. On the surface, he seemed an average Soviet man — educated, hardworking, and a life-long member of the Communist Party.
Behind this facade, though, was a man whose troubles started the day he was born, Oct. 16, 1936, in a little village in the Ukraine, ravaged by Stalinist-era famines. Andrei grew up seeing the carnage of war up close and hearing horror stories of cannibalism, including one about his own brother, who had vanished one day and, the tale went, was killed and eaten by starving neighbors.


Chikatilo worked hard in school and by his mid-30s, he had landed a position as a teacher in the town of Novoshakhtinsk. Also, in spite of a personal history of impotence, he somehow managed to marry and become a father.
His troubles started in the mid-1970s, when he was fired for groping students. Chikatilo got another teaching job in Shakhty, but soon after he arrived, on Dec. 22, 1978, a little girl from that town, Lena Zakotnova, 9, vanished.
Police fished her mutilated corpse from a river two days later. Chikatilo was questioned, but another man, a convicted sex offender, confessed after a brutal interrogation and was executed.
In the years following Zakotnova’s murder, Chikatilo lost his second teaching position, again for molesting students, and got a job as a supply clerk in a factory, work that had him traveling a lot.
In September 1981, a 17-year-old prostitute disappeared, and then, in June 1982, a 13-year-old schoolgirl went out to buy some food and never came home.
One after another, women, girls and then young boys in the region disappeared. Some would be found later, their bodies bearing the horrific signature marks of the murderer — boys were castrated, women’s sexual organs were sliced out. Tongue tips and organs of several victims appeared to have been bitten off.
The murderer was dubbed the "Forest Strip Killer."
Police questioned nearly half a million people, with methods so brutal it drove at least three men to suicide. In their book, Comrade Chikatilo, Moscow journalists Mikhail Krivich and Ol’gert Ol’gin said that Rostov police solved over 1,000 cases, including several murders, while looking for the Forest Strip monster.
In 1983, investigators became convinced that the killings were the work of a band of unbalanced young men, petty criminals and troublemakers. Interrogations yielded confessions, and for a time it seemed as if the case was closed.
Investigators turned their attention to public places that attracted large groups of people.
It was in early September 1984, at a bus station, that detective Alexander Zanosovsky noticed a middle-aged man, carrying a briefcase, who was trying to start conversations with young passersby. After two weeks observing the man chatting up one young person after another, the detective approached. At that moment, Zanosovsky recalled later, “drops of sweat the size of raindrops appeared on his forehead.”
It was Chikatilo. Zanosovsky arrested him; in the briefcase, there was a knife, rope, a jar of Vaseline and a towel.
In his gut, Zanosovsky was certain this ordinary-looking man was the monster, but his theory was undermined by science. Chikatilo’s blood type was A, and it did not match AB semen found on the victims’ bodies.
Scientists had not yet discovered that in some rare individuals, blood and semen can have different profiles. Chikatilo was one of them.
He went free. Women and children continued to disappear, and mutilated corpses — some without heads — continued to pop up in the forests around the region.
In November 1990, a detective noticed a tall man walking out of the woods, his finger bandaged and his ear scratched. He asked the stranger for his name. The answer: Andrei Chikatilo.
There was no reason to detain him, but luckily, the officer remembered that name when a body turned up nearby a few days later.
Shortly after his arrest, the 56-year-old killer broke his silence, blabbing about his murder spree. Sexual gratification was the motive; without terror, pain, and blood, he was impotent, and had been all his life. Promises of food and drink rendered him irresistible to hungry prostitutes, and the children, he said, followed him because of his personal “magnetism.”
Hundreds of horrified relatives of the “Rostov Ripper’s” victims packed the courthouse at his trial, which started in April 1992. Some shrieked threats, others fainted from the exhaustion of tears and grief as the defendant testified. In stomach-turning detail, he confessed, from the safety of a steel cage, to unspeakable acts, including nibbling on certain body parts.
“I was like a crazed wolf,” he said. “I just turned into a beast, a wild animal.”
After six months, Chikatilo was declared both sane and guilty. “Execution by firing squad is not enough for him,” shrieked one woman in black. “Let me tear him apart with my own hands.”
On Feb. 14, 1994, he was silenced for good, executed with a single bullet to the back of his head.

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