| This grisly report - on the conviction of Russian serial killer Alexander Pichushkin -- mentions notorious Ukrainian killer, Andrei Chikatilo, who killed at least 53 young women, girls, and boys in the most horrible ways imaginable. The interesting thing to me in the case was that Chikatilo was a suspect for his very first murder -- in 1978 of 9-year-old Lena Zakotnova -- but the police convicted someone else of the crime:
An eyewitness had seen Chikatilo with the victim, shortly before her disappearance, but his wife provided him with a cast-iron alibi that enabled him to evade any further police attention. A 25-year old, Alexsandr Kravchenko, with a previous rape conviction, was arrested and confessed to the crime under duress, probably as a result of extensive and brutal interrogation. He was tried for the killing of Lena Zakotnova, and executed in 1984.
Without the tortured confession from Kravchenko, who knows? Maybe the Soviet police arrest and convict Chikatilo for his first murder, not his 53rd. Police work is an inexact science, so it's impossible to say. What we can say, beyond all doubt, is that once the police extracted a false confession from Kravchenko through torture, Chikatilo was able to continue his ghastly work unimpeded for the next 12 years.
And when the police caught up with Chikatilo again in 1990, he confessed - not through torture - but to psychiatrist Aleksandr Bukhanovski, who had used a psychological profile to ease the killer into admitting his crimes.
Torture doesn't work. Those being tortured will tell their interrogators what they want to hear. And in the case of Chikatilo, torture had disastrous consequences. I know, I know. That's not how it works on 24...