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Murderer Monday: “The Chessboard Killer”

This guy’s bodycount (for lack of a better word) exceeds Jack the Ripper, Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer. Alexander Yuryevich Pichushkin is believed to be responsible for the deaths of between 48-60 people and remains Russia’s most prolific serial killer.

“The closer a person is to you and the better you know them, the more pleasurable it is to kill them.”

Early Life:

Alexander was born in April 1974 in Moscow. His father left him and his mother when he was only one year old. The family were very poor, he grew up sleeping on a sofa bed in their lounge. His sister and her husband and child in the other room, and his mother in the other bedroom. He was a pretty normal child, until he had an accident with a swing. He fell off backwards, and it hit him hard in the forehead (this has deffo happened to me before).

Experts believed that this damaged the frontal cortex of his brain, which can lead to aggressive tendencies. As he was so young when this happened, the damage would have been more severe than in adulthood. After this his behaviour became so hostile that his mother took him out of mainstream school and put him into a school for children with learning disabilities. He was bullied and teased at his mainstream school, aggravating his violent tendencies.

Teenage Years:

When he was a young teenager, his grandad believed his intelligence was being wasted. He wasn’t involved in any clubs in or out of school. To help him socially, he  went to live with his grandparents. Here, his grandad who taught him how to play chess. It seemed he had found something to channel his aggression into, and he was an astounding player. He began to play against older men in the local park, Bitsa Park. He was left devastated when his grandad suddenly died, leaving him to move back in with his mother. To dull the grief, he began drinking vodka as he had watched men playing chess in the park doing. He could still play chess seemingly without being affected by the alcohol, unlike those he played against. At this time, he was also still being bullied by those from his mainstream school.

Alexander developed a more sinister hobby. Whenever he came into contact with children, he videod himself threatening them. Afterwards he would watch the videos repeatedly to assert his power. One video showed him holding a child upside down by their leg, claiming,“You are in my power now… I am going to drop you from the window… and you will fall 15 meters to your death…”


Alexander committed his first murder when he was an 18 year old student in 1992. In a taped confession, he admitted to pushing a boy out of a window – his friend who he had conspired to murder others with. When he realised his friend wasn’t serious about killing, he became Alexander’s first victim. “This first murder, it’s like first love, it’s unforgettable”. However, investigators could not confirm this and still believe it a potential suicide. He did not kill again until 2001.

He targeted primarily elderly and homeless people, who he lured away to Bitsa Park with a promise of free vodka. 10 of his victims were from his apartment block. He told them that they were meeting at his dog’s grave. It is said that he got a dog for company after his grandfather died, but it is unknown whether the dog is actually buried in the park. After drinking with them, he would sneak up on them from behind so as not to get blood on his clothes, and hit them repeatedly on the head with a hammer. Once they were dead, he would push a vodka bottle into their head wounds, which became his trademark.

He committed his last known murder in 2006, Marina Moskalyova who was 36. Her body was found in the park with Alexander’s trademark injuries. A metro ticket in her pocket led to the discovery of CCTV footage, which showed her walking on the platform with Alexander. He worked with her in a supermarket. She had also left a note for her son telling him she was going for a walk with Alexander. Alexander knew he shouldn’t kill her, but he also knew his time as a killer was up. In the end, he allowed himself to be caught.


He befriended people with the intention of killing them. Among his favourite books was Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. He wanted his victims to know what was happening, not die instantly. His murders weren’t sexually motivated, he didn’t seem to care for women or men. He told his first victim that he wanted to kill people. In 2001 he walked into a police station and admitted he was a serial killer, but the police called him a drunk, laughed and sent him home. His sister once watched a news report about the killings, and wondered who the madman was. Alexander admitted he had to fight to stop himself admitting that he was sat right beside her.

Years later, he admitted that he felt like God when he was murdering someone. “In all cases I killed for only one reason. I killed in order to live, because when you kill, you want to live”. “For me, life without murder is like life without food for you. I felt like the father of all these people, since it was me who opened the door for them to another world.”

Psychologists believe that he punished men because he was angry with his grandfather for leaving him.His murders seemed to get more careless. He started off disposing of their bodies, but eventually just left them in the park to be discovered. One of his victims escaped the sewers and managed to reach a hospital. It turned out that she was an illegal immigrant. Police told her that if she kept quiet about her attack, they would overlook her “illegal habitation”. Another survivor later attacked Alexander in public in front of police officers, who dismissed his claims and sent him home because he was young and a “punk”.

Arrest and Trial:

He was arrested on 16 June 2006, and convicted on 24 October 2007 of 49 murders and 3 attempted murders. He asked the court to add an additional 11 victims to his body count, bringing his claimed death toll to 60, and 3 surviving victims. “I thought it would be unfair to forget about the other 11 people”.

During his trial he had to stand encases inside a glass cage for his own protection. It only took the Judge one hour to read the verdict: life imprisonment with the first 15 years to be spent in solitary confinement. Once reprimanded, Alexander took police to the scene of his crimes in Bitsa Park. As part of Russian criminal investigations, he was asked to reenact his crimes. He was filmed doing so with great detail. At this time, he also revealed that some of his victims were not bludgeoned, but thrown into the sewers below the park. Although, one victim did survive this.

Experts found him sane, but suffering from antisocial and narcissistic personality disorders. After his arrest, police discovered a chessboard in his house with dates written on 62 out of 64 of the squares. They determined that these dates coincided with the murders he committed. He also had a coloured in chessboard drawn on a notebook he kept in his pocket. Due to the gruesomeness and number of murders committed, Russians considered reinstating the death penalty.


Many believe that he was also in competition with Andrei Chikatilo, who was convicted of 52 murders in 1992. Some reports state that Alexander dreamed of surpassing Chikatilo’s record. Although he didn’t quite meet his goal of 64 murders, he did out-kill Chikatilo in his weird serial killer contest. Prosecutors claimed that his main goal was to go down in history and be remembered. For the many families of his victims, I’m sure he will be.

He remains in prison, it is not specified which one. Recently, he got married to a woman called Natalya who saw him on TV after his arrest. In an abusive relationship, she began writing to him and he wrote back. She is proud of and views him as a Hollywood star, recently doing a news interview. A very odd ending to this story.

“I took the most valuable thing, human life,” he said. “I didn’t take anything else of value from them. Money, jewellery, I didn’t need it. I felt like God.”

“I tried to collect their spirits, their souls, I felt no emotion when I killed them.”

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