13 Unsettling Facts About Alexander Pichushkin, The Chessboard Killer

While he might not be as well-known as some American serial killers, Alexander Pichushkin alleged to killing at least 60 people in Russia. He started in the early ‘90s and often targeted elderly or transient men, some of which he had formerly played chess with, in the nearby park. In 2006, authorities arrested Pichushkin for the murder of a female coworker. He then admitted to dozens of murders, telling authorities he attacked his victims and left their bodies in Moscow's Bitsevski (Bitsa) Park and sewer drains. Before his arrest, locals referred to the unknown killer as the “Bitsa Park Maniac.”

Pichushkin said he wanted to kill enough people to fill the squares on a chessboard - earning him the infamous “Chessboard Killer” name. Investigators discovered a chessboard with approximately 61 spaces marked off in his Moscow home. Pichushkin, like other serial killers, kept his own unique trophy to document his kills: a log with the date each of his victims died. Russian authorities convicted Pichushkin in 2007 for 48 murders. 
 

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  • He Got Caught After He Murdered His Co-Worker

    He Got Caught After He Murdered His Co-Worker
    Video: YouTube

    Authorities suspect Pichushkin killed at least three women. Reportedly, the few women he killed were people he took on dates. Then 19-year-old Maria Viricheva is one of three known victims who survived an attack from the Chessboard Killer. Police refused to investigate Viricheva’s claims. They also discredited the account of another surviving victim, a 14-year-old homeless boy. The third survivor suffered extensive head trauma and could not testify against Pichushkin. 

    His last victim - and one of his only female victims - was 36-year-old Marina Moskaloyova. She was a coworker of Pichushkin's at a local grocery store. The two went on a walk in Bitsa Park when he killed her. Reportedly, Moskaloyova left a note at home with Pichushkin’s phone number on it. When authorities found her body, they discovered a metro ticket in her pocket. After reviewing security tapes, investigators saw Pichushkin with Moskaloyova and arrested him on suspicion of murder.
     

  • He Confessed On National Television

    He Confessed On National Television
    Video: YouTube

    Authorities apprehended Pichushkin in June 2006. They originally arrested him for the murder of Marina Moskaloyova, but he confessed - on air - to having killed at least 60 other people. Media outlets broadcasted the confession nationally, allowing Russian citizens to hear Pichushkin’s criminal mindset firsthand: "For me, a life without murder is like a life without food for you."

    After extensive evaluations, Russian psychiatrists deemed Pichushkin “sane” and able to stand trial in 2007 for 48 murders.

  • He Spent His Time In The Courtroom Locked In A Glass Cage

    During his trial, Russian authorities kept Pichushkin in a locked glass cage in the courtroom for his safety and the safety of others. Authorities had also held Pichushkin's idol, Andrei Chikatilo, similarly throughout his trial 14 years prior

    In 1996, Russia changed legislation to no longer allow the death penalty. Unlike Chikatilo, who faced execution in 1994, the courts sentenced Pichushkin to life in prison. He served the first 15 years of his sentence in solitary confinement.
     

  • He Said Killing People Made Him Feel 'Like God'

    He Said Killing People Made Him Feel 'Like God'
    Photo: Moscow City Police / via Wikimedia Commons / Fair Use

    After Pichushkin confessed to five dozen murders, he explained his motive. He maintained he killed people because it made him feel “like God.” He also stated he liked to be the person who chose to decide whether a person lived or died. During his trial, Pichushkin likened himself to God: 

    In all cases, I killed for only one reason. I killed in order to live, because when you kill, you want to live. […] I felt like the father of all these people since it was I who opened the door for them to another world.