Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Devil's Trail

Suspects

With all the surveillance, it was inevitable that certain suspicious men would be followed and detained, and this procedure produced two suspects, each of which was interesting for different reasons. One appeared to be the man they were after and the other became an informant.

The Minister of the Interior appointed a dozen new detectives to the case, and a task force of some 200 men and women became involved in the investigation. Burakov was appointed to head this team. That got him closer to leads as they came in. It also shouldered him with the heavy responsibility of forming a good plan to stop this killer. People were assigned to work undercover at bus and train stations, and to wander the parks.

According to Cullen, they decided that they were looking for a man between 25 and 30, tall, well built, with type AB blood. He was careful and had at least average intelligence, and was probably verbally persuasive. He traveled and lived with either his mother or a wife. He might be a former psychiatric patient, or a substance abuser, and he might have some knowledge of anatomy and skill with a knife. Anyone who generally matched these characteristics would have to submit to a blood test.

The press was not allowed to carry stories about the links among these crimes, only to ask for witnesses concerning one or another of the murders. No warnings were given to parents to protect their children or to young women out alone.

The Rostov bus station
The Rostov bus station

One undercover officer spotted an older man in the Rostov bus station. He spoke to a female adolescent and when she got on her bus, he circled around and sat next to another young woman. This was suspicious behavior, so Major Zanasovsky thought it was time to question him. The man's name was Andrei Chikatilo and he was the manager of a machinery supply company. He was there on a business trip, but lived in Shakhty. As to why he was approaching young women, he admitted that he'd once been a teacher and he missed talking to young people. The officer let him go.

However, he spotted Chikatilo again and followed him, boarding the same bus he got on in order to watch him. "He seemed very ill at ease," Zanasovsky's report states, "and was always twisting his head from one side to another."

He followed Chikatilo into another bus and saw him accost various women. When Chikatilo solicited a prostitute and received oral sex under his coat, they arrested him for indecent behavior in public and went through his briefcase. Inside were a jar of Vaseline, a long kitchen knife, a piece of rope and a dirty towel — nothing suggestive of business dealings.

Andrei Chikatilo, teacher
Andrei Chikatilo, teacher

Zanasovsky believed he had the lesopolosa killer. He urged the procurator to come and interrogate the man. Chikatilo's blood was drawn and it was type A, not AB. He was also a member of the Communist Party, with good character references. There was nothing in his background to raise suspicion. Nevertheless, they kept him in jail for a couple of days to see if sitting in a cell might pressure him into a confession.

He denied everything, although he admitted to "sexual weakness," and was finally released. He was later arrested again for petty thefts at work and he served three months in prison. Still, he did not have the right blood type, so he was not their killer.

Burakov decided to breach protocol and consult with psychiatric experts in Moscow. He wanted to know what they thought of the idea of a single person killing women and children of both genders. Most were either uninterested or refused to say much, due to insufficient detail. However, one psychiatrist, Alexandr Bukhanovsky, agreed to study the few known details, as well as the crime scene patterns, to come up with a profile. He read everything he could find, specialized in sexual pathologies and schizophrenia, and was willing to take risks. This case, unusual as it was, interested him. He came up with a seven-page report.

Alexandr Bukhanovsky, psychiatric expert
Alexandr Bukhanovsky,
psychiatric expert

The killer, he said, was a sexual deviate, between 25 and 50 years old, around five-foot, ten-inches tall. He thought the man suffered from some form of sexual inadequacy and he blinded his victims to prevent them from looking at him. He also brutalized their corpses, partly out of frustration and partly to enhance his arousal. He was a sadist and had difficulty getting relief without cruelty. Often sadists like to inflict superficial wounds, as was evident on many of these victims. He was also compulsive, following the goading of his need, and would be depressed until he could kill. He might even have headaches. He was not retarded or schizophrenic. He could work out a plan and follow it. He was a loner and he was the only offender involved.

Burakov got two other opinions, one of which insisted there were two killers, and he felt that no one had given him anything that brought him closer to closing the case. He was still frustrated.

Working with the idea that the killer had a sexual dysfunction, the dogged investigator looked up records of men convicted of homosexual crimes and came across Valery Ivanenko, who had committed several acts of "perversion" and who had claimed he was psychotic. He also had a charismatic personality and once had been a teacher. At age 46, he was tall and wore glasses. He'd been brought to the psychiatric institute in Rostov but had escaped. In short, he sounded too good to be true. He was the perfect suspect.

Staking out the apartment of the man's invalid mother, Burakov caught and arrested him. But his blood was type A which eliminated him as the killer. In a deal, Burakov enlisted his assistance investigating the gay population in return for his release. Ivanenko proved to be quite good at getting secret information, which in turn led to others providing even more information under pressure. Burakov soon knew quite a bit about Rostov's underworld, from perversion to violence.

Yet Burakov still felt as if he was just going toward more dead ends. The gay men that he investigated just did not strike him as having the right personality disorder for these crimes. He began to come around to Bukhanovsky's view that this killer was heterosexual but probably impotent when it came to normal sexual relations. He needed more details.

 

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