Trial of accused serial killer begins

The murder trial of a Moscow man, Aleksandr Pichushkin, who's already confessed to killing dozens of people, will begin today. If convicted of 52 murders, Aleksandr will become one of Russia's most notorious serial killers.

Pichushkin was reserved but amiable.  He liked animals but wasn't popular with women. Nobody would suspect anything wrong in him. He liked to play chess. So much so that he says he made a mark on his chessboard every time he killed somebody. His goal was to fill all 64 squares. He said he was just one square short.

Pichushkin lived just steps away from the Bitsevsky park in Moscow, a heavily forested area frequented by pensioners, young mothers and the killer, whoever he was.

The killer always attacked from behind. Not because he was scared to face his victims but rather to avoid blood spilling on his clothes. For the same reason he never used a knife, preferring to strike his victims with a hammer on the back of their heads. His signature was to put a stick or the neck of a broken bottle into the wound.

Many of the maniac's victims were old men. He also seemed to have a grudge toward them, dating back to his childhood. His much-loved grandfather left the family when he was 14. A decade later the killing spree began in the Bitsevsky park.

“He had a hidden rancor toward old men but when a maniac gets the taste, he cannot help but continue killing,” said Mikhail Vinogradov, a criminal psychiatrist.

Among the victims were not only men but also women, young and old. Pichushkin claims he remembers all of them. When investigators took him back to the park, he unfailingly showed some hide-outs. In a pond investigators found a hammer and metal bars. A few steps away – the body of a 68-year-old man.   

Pichushkin was arrested by chance. A young woman he used to work with left a note with his name before joining him for a walk in the park. Her mobile phone didn't work so she left Puchushkin's number just in case. Later that day she was found dead. After confessing to her killing, Pichushkin gave out details of 62 other murders. But now he goes on trial for just 52 counts.

“Pichushkin is charged only with those murders that we've been able to prove. He claims that he killed more people but so far we couldn't find any evidence to support that. There are no bodies, no murder weapons, and no testimony. That's why he's only charged with 52 killings,” said Yury Syomin, a Moscow Prosecutor.

Pichushkin, who was found to be criminally sane, may face life in prison if found guilty. But he is undeterred. In fact, he seems to enjoy the pre-trial publicity.

“I will be back in the Bitsovsky park. My hand can still feel the hammer,” Aleksandr Pichushkin, the suspect, said.