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Alexander Pichushkin, Russia's Chessboard Killer

The cold-blooded killer's goal was to kill enough people to fill a chessboard.

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  • Photo Credit: Murderpedia

Russian serial killer Alexander Pichushkin knew at a young age that he was destined to murder. He was only a teenager when took the life of his first victim in 1992, pushing a boy out a window to his death. Of his first murder, Pichushkin said, “It’s like first love, it’s unforgettable.”

After keeping his impulses at bay for several years, in the early 2000s, Alexander Pichushkin embarked on a gruesome murder rampage that he turned into a twisted game. Pichushkin was a very good chess player. The Russian killer wanted to claim 64 victims: the number of humans it would take to fill every spot on a chessboard. Pichushkin’s bizarre quest led him to take the lives of nearly 50 confirmed victims before his capture in 2006.

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Pichushkin was an outsider as a child, and it was his beloved grandfather who introduced him to the game of chess. Pichushkin became a very good player, and he would face off against grown men in Moscow’s Bitsa Park. When his grandfather passed away, the chess prodigy and future killer took the death badly, and he turned to drinking large amounts of vodka to help dull the pain.

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  • Bitsa Park

    Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

In 2001, Pichushkin began to kill in earnest, primarily targeting homeless and elderly men. Pichushkin would ask the men to drink vodka with him in Bitsa Park, often claiming to be mourning the death of his dog. Once the unsuspecting victims were intoxicated, he would bash their heads in with a hammer or another blunt object. A broken vodka bottle pushed into the skulls of the dead men became Pichushkin’s calling card. In addition to homeless and elderly men, he also killed some women and at least one child. By 2006, Russian authorities knew they had a serial killer on their hands. The residents of Moscow lived in fear of the mystery murderer known as the “Bitsa Park Maniac.”

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Pichushkin’s years avoiding police scrutiny came to an end in June 2006. On June 14, a co-worker of Pichushkin’s, 36-year-old Marina Moskalyova, was found dead in Bitsa Park. The day before she died, Moskalyova had told her son she was going on a date with Pichushkin, writing down his name and number in case of emergency. Additionally, police discovered a metro ticket in her coat, which led them to review surveillance video of the Moscow metro that showed footage of Moskalyova walking with Pichushkin. Police raided Pichushkin’s Moscow apartment, and he was arrested.

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  • Photo Credit: Murderpedia

Pichushkin stunned investigators when he said that he had killed not only Marina Moskalyova, but a total of 60 other people over the past several years. The killer also explained to authorities about his chessboard murder fantasy – by the time he was taken in, 61 of the chessboard’s squares had been filled in. Pichushkin was found guilty of 48 murders, so many that Russia considered reinstating the death penalty. He was ultimately sentenced to life in prison in 2007, with the first 15 years to be served in solitary confinement.

Today, Alexander Pichushkin is 42 years old. He remains in, and will spend the rest of his life in, a Russian prison.

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Featured photo: Murderpedia