Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Werewolf Syndrome: Compulsive Bestial Slaughterers

Russian Savagery

In 1990, the Russian government announced the capture of a man wanted for nearly a decade for the murder and mutilation of dozens of women and children.  The crimes of the lesopolosa killer, also dubbed the Maniac, were first noted as a series in 1982 with three corpses found in wooded areas.  The authorities officially treated them as unrelated incidents, but the style of savagery was both similar in all three cases and also quite unusual, so the local detectives believed they had a serial killer.  Richard Lourie and Robert Cullen both tell the tale in their books.

On girls and women, this offender would gouge the breasts and destroy the vagina, uterus and bladder or abdomen. On boys, he would mutilate the penis, scrotum and anus, and once even chewed out a tongue.  A few early victims were also stabbed through the eyes.  The "signature" was clear, but the Russian team's technology was archaic, making it difficult to run a proper investigation.  They were able to determine that the killer had AB blood, which helped to eliminate suspects, but were forbidden from publicizing the murders to get public assistance. 

Viktor Burakov headed the investigation, and more bodies soon turned up.    Influenced by the FBI's behavioral science program, Burakov asked psychiatrists for help, and Dr. Alexandr Bukhanovsky agreed to develop a report.  The killer, he said, was 25-50 years old.  He thought the man suffered from sexual inadequacy and he may have blinded his victims to prevent them from looking at him.  He was a sadist and had difficulty getting relief without using cruelty. 

Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo
Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo

Suspecting that the killer was picking up victims at train stations, Burakov posted undercover officers to keep watch.  This proved to be the right move.  Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo, 54, a man who had previously been interrogated but was released, was seen at the Donleskhoz train station coming out of the woods.  There were twigs on his coat and a red smear on his cheek.  Not far away, another slaughtered and mutilated victim was found.


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