Born in USSR-occupied Ukraine in 1936, Andrei Chikatilo grew up in lean times due to the government's farming policies. Chikatilo, more than others, saw the famine first hand as his parents were farmers who worked a small piece of land behind the one-room hut they occupied.
When the war began in 1941, Chikatilo's father was drafted into the army and was taken prisoner in '43. During the war years, Chikatilo and his mother hid from Nazi raids in basements and cellars. Chikatilo's mother then gave birth to a daughter. As Chikatilo's father was still imprisoned, the identity of his sister's father remained unknown, though it was assumed to be a Nazi soldier who had forced himself onto Chikatilo's mother.
Chikatilo also suffered at the hands of his stressed mother, receiving verbal and physical abuse. Combined with the bullying he faced at school, Chikatilo receded into his academics, becoming the editor of his school's newspaper at 14. During puberty, Chikatilo suffered from chronic impotence, exacerbating his social anxiety and low self-esteem. At 17, he sexually assaulted one of his sister's friends.
Failing to enter Moscow University, Chikatilo entered vocational school for communications technology. When he returned home after his army service, he began a relationship with a local woman. She inadvertently revealed to the neighborhood Chikatilo's impotence, causing him to attempt suicide after some time. Driven by embarrassment, Chikatilo moved to Russia- followed soon after by his family- where he became a teacher.
Chikatilo eventually engaged in child molestation, resulting in forced resignations and having to change careers to supply clerk. It was during this time that he began his murders, which were a mix of violence, deception and sexual repression. Chikatilo went on to kill a variety of victims, with the only pattern being the way in which he tied and mutilated the victims. As the pattern became known, an investigation began which often included coerced confessions from suspects. The continued slayings threw doubt on all leads.
At one point, an undercover officer spotted Chikatilo attempting to lure people away from a bus station. He was arrested and held under an old charge that involved him stealing from an employer. When a blood test failed to match his with semen found on a victim, he was merely jailed for a few months due to the theft charge.
The arrest caused Chikatilo to restrain himself and there was a lull in the murders. He eventually returned to high volume killings, which prompted the cops to set up officers at various bus and subway stops where victims had been last seen. An undercover officer spotted Chikatilo after he had committed a murder and took down his information when he saw a red smear on his face and grass-stained elbows. When the connection to his last arrest in the case was made, Chikatilo was put under surveillance.
Chikatilo was observed approaching various people around the city, focusing on women, children, and teenage boys. After six days of surveillance, he was brought in by the police and again had his blood tested against semen samples found on victims. There was no match, but it was discovered that Chikatilo had a rare trait where his semen and blood sample gave different blood types. His semen matched that found on the victims and he was promptly arrested.
Eventually, Chikatilo confessed to the murder of 56 people, though he was only charged with 53, as 3 of the victims could not be confirmed. He was tried for the murders and five counts of molestation from his teaching days. He was convicted of 52 murders and all of the sexual assault charges. He was put to death on February 14th, 1994 in a soundproof room where he was shot in the head.