Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Anatoly Onoprienko, Citizen O

Commanded to Kill

Anatoly Onoprienko waited just 11 days after the highway murders before killing again.  On January 17, 1996, he drove to Bratkovichi and broke into a home owned by the Pilat family.  "I look at it very simply," he told investigators.  "As an animal.  I watched all this as an animal would stare at a sheep."  He shot five in all, including a six-year-old boy.  Following the murder, just before daybreak, he set the house ablaze prior to leaving.  While making his get away, he was spotted by two witnesses, a 27-year-old female railroad worker named Kondzela, and a 56-year-old man named Zakharko.  He wasted little time and shot them both in cold blood.

Less than two weeks later, on January 30, 1996, in the Fastova, Kievskaya Oblast region, Onoprienko shot and killed a 28-year-old nurse named Marusina, along with her two young sons and a 32-year-old male visitor named Zagranichniy.  He told investigators that he could not stop himself and was obsessed with killing.

A month after the Fastova murders, on February 19, 1996, Onoprienko traveled to Olevsk, Zhitomirskaya Oblast, and broke into the home of the Dubchak family.  He shot the father and son, and mauled the mother and daughter to death with a hammer before leaving.  He stated that the young girl had witnessed him murder her parents and was praying when he walked into her room.  "Seconds before I smashed her head, I ordered her to show me where they kept their money," he said.  "She looked at me with an angry, defiant stare and said, 'No, I won't.'  That strength was incredible. But I felt nothing."

On February 27, 1996, Onoprienko said that he drove to Malina, in the Lvivskaya Oblast region and broke into the Bodnarchuk family home.  He shot the husband and wife to death and then murdered their two daughters, aged seven and eight. Rather than shooting the young children, he hacked them both to death with an axe. One hour later, a neighboring businessman named Tsalk was wandering around outside and Onoprienko decided to kill him as well.  He shot the man and then hacked up his corpse with the same axe he had used to murder the children.  "Oh, you know, I killed them because I loved them so much, those children, those men and women, I had to kill them, the inner voice spoke inside my mind and heart and pushed me so hard!" 

Onoprienko claimed that his last murder occurred on March 22, 1996, when he traveled to the small village of Busk, just outside of Bratkovichi, and murdered the Novosad family, four in all.  He shot them to death and set their home ablaze in order to destroy any evidence.  "I'm not a maniac," he said.  "If I were, I would have thrown myself onto you and killed you right here.  No, it's not that simple.  I have been taken over by a higher force, something telepathic or cosmic, which drove me.  I am like a rabbit in a laboratory.  A part of an experiment to prove that man is capable of murdering and learning to live with his crimes.  To show that I can cope, that I can stand anything, forget everything."

Investigators questioned Onoprienko until 6 a.m., as he confessed to committing over 50 murders during his 3-month rampage.  They spent most of their time taking down details about each killing.  There was little talk of motive, although Onoprienko stated several times that he wanted to be studied as a "phenomenon of nature" and that a higher being had commanded him to kill. 

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