Chikatilo was arrested on 20 November 1990, following more suspicious behaviour, but he refused at first to confess to any of the killings. Burakov decided to allow the psychiatrist, Bukhanovski, who had prepared the original profile, to talk to Chikatilo, under the guise of trying to understand the mind of a killer from a scientific context. Chikatilo, clearly flattered by this approach, opened up to the psychiatrist, providing extensive details of all of his killings, and even leading police to the site of bodies previously undiscovered.
He claimed to have taken the lives of 56 victims, although only 53 of these could be independently verified. This figure was far in excess of the 36 cases that the police had initially attributed to their serial killer.