Why You Don’t Use Torture to Obtain Information

Andrei Chikatilo was one of Russia’s more prolific serial killers. Chikatilo confessed to murdering more than fifty children. He tortured his victims first. Then he stabbed out their eyes and removed their genitals to deposit his semen in them.

In his confession, police learned that his first murder had occurred not when the police first started tracking his crimes (the murder of the 13-year-old girl Lyubov Biryuk), but before that, in 1978, with the murder of a 9-year-old girl named Yelena Zakotnova. This discovery alarmed police because a man had already been arrested, tried and executed for the murder of Zakotnova. Chikatilo had moved to Shakhty, the town where Zakotnova lived, to teach.

Serial killer Andrei Chikatilo

Before his family arrived to join him there, he purchased a hut. He discovered Zakotnova near it, took her into his hut, and killed her there after failing to achieve an erection. He substituted a knife for his penis. Chikatilo was a suspect in the case. He had been seen by a witness. Blood was found on his doorstep. But because the other man confessed to the crime under torture, Chikatilo was cleared of the crime.

Because the police extracted a false confession through torture, they did not catch Chikatilo on his first murder and Chikatilo went on to murder more than fifty other children. Because of torture, several dozen children are dead.

Published by

Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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