Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Anatoly Onoprienko, Citizen O

Confessions of Madness

Shortly after 11 p.m., Teslya left the room and went into the corridor, where General Romanuk was waiting.  After a brief recess, the two men and Romanuk's assistant, Maryan Pleyukh, entered the room, and Onoprienko began his confession. 

He first admitted that he had stolen the shotgun, and then admitted that he had used it in a recent murder.  Onoprienko confessed to investigators that he killed for the first time in 1989.  He had met a friend, Sergei Rogozin, at a local gym where the two worked out.  The two hit it off and began spending much of their time together and their friendship eventually turned into a partnership of crime.  They began robbing homes as a way to supplement their meager incomes. 

However, one night while robbing a secluded home outside of town, the owners discovered the two intruders.  Armed with weapons they carried for self-defense, the two felt that killing the family was necessary in assuring their freedom.  Hence, in covering up their tracks, they murdered the entire family   two adults and eight children.  Onoprienko informed investigators that he broke all ties with Sergei a few months later and shot and killed five people, including an 11-year-old boy, who were sleeping in a car.  He then burned their bodies. "I was approaching the car only to rob it," he said.  "I was a completely different person then.  Had I known there had been five people, I would have left."  He said he had derived no pleasure from the act of the killing.  "Corpses are ugly," he said.  "They stink and send out bad vibes.  After I killed the family in the car, I sat in the car with their bodies for two hours not knowing what to do with them.  The smell was unbearable."

Following the murders, Onoprienko kept to himself for several years and moved in with a distant cousin, before he killed again on December 24, 1995.  That night, he broke into the secluded home of the Zaichenko family, located in Garmarnia, a village in central Ukraine.  He murdered the forestry teacher, along with his wife and two young sons, with a sawed-off, double-barreled shotgun.  He then escaped with the couple's wedding rings, a small golden cross on a chain, earrings, and a bundle of worn clothes.  Before leaving the scene of the crime, he set the home ablaze.  "I just shot them. It's not that it gave me pleasure, but I felt this urge," he said.  "From then on, it was almost like some game from outer space."  

Onoprienko, hands up, in jail (AP/Wide World)
Onoprienko, hands up, in jail
(AP/Wide World)

Onoprienko informed investigators that he had a vision from god, was commanded to murder, and just nine days later killed a family of four, before burning the house down.  All the victims were shot with his gun.  He claimed that while fleeing the scene, he was spotted by a man on the road and decided to kill him as well, so as not to leave any living witnesses that could later identify him or place him at the scene.  Less than a month later, on January 6, 1996 Onoprienko told investigators, that he killed four more people in three separate incidents.  He was hanging out near the Berdyansk-Dnieprovskaya highway and decided to stop cars and kill the drivers.  Onoprienko stated that he murdered four travelers that day - a Navy ensign named Kasai, a taxi driver named Savitsky, and a kolkhoz cook named Kochergina.  "To me it was like hunting.  Hunting people down," he explained.  "I would be sitting, bored, with nothing to do.  And then suddenly this idea would get into my head.  I would do everything to get it out of my mind, but I couldn't.  It was stronger than me.  So I would get in the car or catch a train and go out to kill." 

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