MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian who says he murdered at least 60 people told a court on Wednesday that he collected the souls of his victims after falling in love with killing.
Branded the “chessboard murderer” by Russian newspapers because he wanted to fill the 64 squares of a chessboard with a coin for each murder, Alexander Pichushkin said he preferred to select victims he knew.
“I tried to collect their spirits, their souls,” he said. “I felt no emotion when I killed them.”
Pichushkin is charged with 49 murders but says he killed at least 11 more.
He killed his first victim, a friend, in 1992, an experience he said was like first love: “You never forget it.” He killed an average of one victim a month from 2002 onwards, once taking three lives in 10 days.
Listening just meters away from the cage holding Pichushkin was Vera Konobaltsayeva, the elderly mother of one of his victims.
She raised her hand to ask how and why her son, Andrei, had perished in December 2001. But Pichushkin, a 33-year-old former supermarket worker, could give no clear explanation.
“We went for a walk, we drank vodka, we chatted. Then when he was drunk ... I threw him in the well,” he said. “Your son, he felt no trauma.”
Konobaltsayeva wept quietly.
Prosecutors say he lured most of his victims to secluded parts of Moscow’s Bitsevsky Park. Some had their skulls smashed with a hammer. Other victims were strangled, drowned in a sewage pit or thrown off balconies.
If convicted, Pichushkin could be Russia’s most prolific serial killer. Andrei Chikatilo, the “Rostov Ripper”, was convicted in 1992 and executed in 1994 for raping, butchering and in some cases eating as many as 52 people.
Pichushkin’s trial is expected to be lengthy, with testimony scheduled from at least 41 relatives of the alleged victims and another 98 witnesses.
“I have lots of time to answer questions. But I’m very tired — my bed is not very comfortable,” Pichushkin said.