Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Anatoly Onoprienko, Citizen O

Silence

Although they had a mountain of material evidence, Kryukov needed a confession.  Nonetheless, Onoprienko immediately made it clear that he was not interested in talking.  When Kryukov confronted him with the facts, Onoprienko showed little reaction and just smiled.  "I'll talk to a general, but not to you," he said. 

Yavoriv's lead investigator, Bogdan Teslya, had not been involved in the arrest or initial search.  At the time of the operation, he had been at home relaxing with his family.  Shortly after the search at Onoprienko's apartment was finished, at approximately 9:00 at night, he got a phone call from Kryukov asking him to come in and handle the interrogation.  Teslya was considered by Khuney and other investigators to be the best interrogator in the area, because of his personality and ability to speak calmly with suspects.

At police headquarters, Onoprienko had waived his right to an attorney and continued to remain silent.  Despite his announcement that he would speak to no one below the rank of general, Teslya considered it imperative to try to get as much information as he could.  "I was terrified that it would go wrong," he said.  "In this kind of case, you never know what will happen.  He might hang himself in his cell by the next morning, and then you'd never be able to really close the case.  We needed to get him to speak."  Beginning at 10 p.m., Teslya sat alone in an interrogation room with Onoprienko while they waited for an Interior Ministry general to arrive from Lviv, and tried to get him to talk about himself.

Onoprienko was silent at first, but in the second half hour of questioning began to talk about his life, telling Teslya that he had been born in the town of Laski in the Zhitomirskaya Oblast.  He told Teslya his mother had died when he was very young and that his father had put him into a Russian orphanage.  Onoprienko talked at length about this, saying he was still angry that his father gave him away, but kept his older brother.  "Onoprienko said that he felt that his father and brother could easily have taken care of him," Teslya said.  "He was moved and upset to talk about it."  Following this line of questioning, Teslya then asked Onoprienko whether he ever felt resentment toward families.  Onoprienko hesitated briefly and then shook his head before restating that he would not talk to anyone below the rank of general.

"At that point, I tried something new," Teslya said.  "I said to him, 'We'll get you your general.  We'll get 10 generals if you want. But how am I going to look if I bring them in here and you've got nothing to tell them?  Because maybe there's nothing to tell.  How will I look then?  And that's when he said it.  He said, 'Don't worry.  There's definitely something to tell.'" 

 

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