Andrei Chikatilo confessed to 56 murders when he was eventually caught in 1990. The brutal killer preyed on children and young vagrants, eating intimate parts of their bodies.

Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo was born on 16th October 1936 in Yablochnoye, a village in the heart of rural Ukraine, within the USSR. During the 1930s, the Ukraine was known as the “Breadbasket” of the Soviet Union, and the policies of communism, realised through Stalin’s enforcement of agricultural collectivisation, caused widespread hardship within the country, leading eventually to a famine that decimated the population. At the time of his birth, the effects of the famine were still widely felt, and his early childhood was influenced by the deprivation, made worse still when the USSR entered the war against Germany, causing the Ukraine to be the subject of sustained bombing raids. In addition to the external hardships, Chikatilo is believed to have suffered from hydrocephalus (or water on the brain) at birth, which caused him genital-urinary tract problems later in life, including bed-wetting into his late adolescence and, later, the inability to sustain an erection, although he was able to ejaculate. His home life was disrupted by his father’s conscription into the war against Germany, where he was captured, held prisoner, and then vilified by his countrymen for allowing himself to be captured, when he finally returned home. Such was the political control exercised in the Soviet Union at that time that the young Chikatilo suffered the consequences of his father’s 'cowardice', making him the focus of school bullying. Painfully shy as a result of this, his only sexual experience during adolescence occurred, aged 15, when he is reported to have overpowered a young girl, ejaculating immediately during the brief struggle, for which he received even more ridicule. This humiliation coloured all future sexual experiences, and cemented his association of sex with violence. He failed his entrance exam to Moscow State University, and a spell of National Service was followed by a move to Rodionovo-Nesvetayevsky, a town near Rostov, in 1960, where he became a telephone engineer. His younger sister moved in with him and, concerned by his lack of success with the opposite sex, she engineered a meeting with a local girl, Fayina, whom he went on to marry in 1963. Despite his sexual problems, and lack of interest in conventional sex, they produced two children, and lived an outwardly normal family life. In 1971, a career change to school teacher was short-lived, when a string of complaints about indecent assaults on young children forced him to move from school to school, before he finally settled at a mining school in Shakhty, near Rostov.