Butcher of Rostov cannibal killed 52, cut out their sex organs then ate them

He is the infamous smirking Russian serial killer known as the Red Ripper who raped and butchered 52 people and also ate body parts from some of his victims.

Romanovich Chikatilo was known as the Butcher of Rostov and was one of the most prolific serial killers in world history.

His sickening crimes included rape, murder, mutilation and cannibalism.

Chikatilo's heinous crimes spanned the period from 1978 until 1990, with a police investigation hampered by the Soviet ideology that serial killings cannot occur in a Communist society.

As a result of this mentality he was initially arrested and released, which led to him committing more murders.

After his second arrest, the Rostov Ripper admitted to killing 57 women and children.

He was tried and convicted for 52 of those murders in 1992.

Chikatilo had worked as a teacher in the mining city of Novoshakhtinsk in Rostov.

In his various teaching roles, he violently sexually assaulted children of both genders.

Chikatilo's first documented victim was nine-year-old Lena Zakotnova in 1978. After luring her into an abandoned shed, the sick teacher tried to rape her.

During the struggle, he reportedly slashed Lena with a knife and ejaculated at the same time – cementing his association of violence with sexual gratification.

Although the sick married monster had been spotted with Lena before her disappearance, Chikatilo's wife provided him with a watertight alibi – meaning someone else was arrested for the heinous crime.

Still a free man, Chikatilo continued to work as a teacher until the allegations of indecent assault built up and gave him a reputation.

In 1981, he was made redundant from his teaching job and took a post as a clerk for a factory – allowing him to travel and giving him access to many young victims.

Chikatilo's second known victim was 17-year-old Larisa Tkachenko who was strangled and stabbed to death.

During the sadistic attack, the monstrous killer stuffed earth and leaves into her mouth to stop her from screaming out.

After murdering Larisa, Chikatilo developed a pattern of seeking out young vagrants and runaways to prey upon – both male and female.

The details of his crimes shocked the Soviet Union as reports emerged he would lure vulnerable young people into woodland before mutilating their genitals with a knife.

In several cases, it is believed he cut out his victims' sexual organs and ate them, whereas in others he cut off facial features like noses and tongues.

The youngest person to be murdered by Andrei Chikatilo was eight-year-old Igor Gudkov who was killed in Aviators' Park on August 9, 1983.

Chikatilo's oldest murder victim was Lyubov Zuyeva, 31, who was killed on April 4, 1990.

The Red Ripper, who had two children, was sentenced to death for his crimes and executed by gunshot on February 14, 1994 at the age of 47.

His infamy is believed to have inspired another Russian serial killer.

Mikhail Popkov, a former policeman nicknamed 'The Werewolf, is believed to have idolised Chikatilo.

Law enforcement sources reckon his eventual total will exceed his sinister idol.

Popkov is believed to have murdered around 80 people in the harsh Siberian wilderness.

He was found guilty of 56 murders between 1992 and 2017, earning him a second life term in prison in Russia.

Popkov had already been imprisoned for killing 22 women in 2015.

He would stop women and offer them a lift late at night while he was off-duty as a policeman in Angarsk, in the south-eastern part of the nation. He killed his victims using weapons including a hammer and an axe.

The sicko then disposed of their bodies in the woods, at the side of the road and in a cemetery.

Russia's bloodiest serial killer was later convicted of murdering his 82nd and 83rd female victims.

The latest convictions relate to killings in 1995.

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