Monday, October 21, 2013

The Butcher of Rostov's Last Meal: Serial Killer Supper Series, Part III

Soviet serial killer Andrei Chikatilo - fittingly dubbed the Butcher of Rostov and the Red Ripper - holds the dubious distinction of being one of the most prolific and disgusting mass killers of modern times. To be sure, there are, in the West at least, more famous serial killers - Son of Sam, the Zodiac Killer, Dahmer, Bundy - but in my research I have not come across one who chose his victims with more calculated coldness, or seemed to carry out his crimes with such absolute depraved gusto and complete lack of remorse.

Between 1978  and 1990 he killed over 50 women, boys, and girls. Impotent in his "normal" life, Chikatilo stabbed and often eviscerated his victims, achieving sexual pleasure from their bleeding and dying cries. He sometimes bit or chewed off parts of their faces, and he claimed that he chewed on the uterus of at least one of his victims. He gouged out his early victims' eyes, believing an old folktale that held that the last moments of death were recorded on the retinas of the dead.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Poisoner's Cake: Serial Killer Supper Series, Part Two ~ the Blonde Borgia

While it is true that serial killers are statistically more likely to be men, women are perfectly capable of racking up an impressive body count, though the killing methods of the two sexes tend to differ. Typically male serial murderers gravitate towards performing violent and bloody atrocities against the (usually female) body; women, in contrast, have historically turned to the comparatively gentle, more hands-off method of poisoning.

Victorian England, in fact,  saw the rise of the woman poisoner as a cultural archetype. After all, poisons such as arsenic were easy to come by and forensic science was not yet adept at detecting such causes of death. To be fair, married women had little or no rights then, and poison often presented the only means out of an abusive marriage. I admit I have a something of a soft spot for women who poisoned out of self-preservation.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Serial Killer Supper Series: Schnitzel, Fried Potatoes, & White Wine; the Last Meal of the Dusseldorf Ripper

In honor of the wondrous, gloomy, and shadowy month of October - temporal home of the year's best holiday, Halloween - I bring you "Serial Killer Suppers," a weekly series in which I will feature a notable meal of a notorious killer. I'm excited, as the series combines two of the things I love most in the world: food and murder. (Say it with me, Hitchcock style: MUH-deh.)

That's not to say I love the actual killers, or their hideous acts, although I do find serial killers to be particularly fascinating. The psychology of multiple murderers, their peculiar and horrible methods, the pleasure, often sexual, they derive from the act of killing, their unstoppable compulsions, their inability to empathize or sympathize with their victims - all of this makes them seem somehow simultaneously less and more than human. After all, notorious killers such as Jack the Ripper or the Zodiac Killer have become more monster than man in the popular imagination, endowed with almost supernatural powers and superhuman prowess.