The Scene of the Crime






−The last thing my sister saw was the killer as he aimed his rifle at her, Tolik tells us and picks up the picture of his sister, Galina, her husband Sergej Bodnarchuk and their two children. The four of them was brutally killed by one of the worst serial killers in modern history. Anatoly Onoprienko was found guilty of 52 murders when he was arrested in 1996.

Sometimes reality is far worse than any horror movie. I remember sitting in the house where four of Onoprienkos 52 killings took place, thinking that this man makes Hannibal the Cannibal look like a boy scout. And unlike Hannibal Lector the Ukrainian serial killer is a real person. The murders he committed were just the beginning of a master plan that, if it had been carried out, would have cost several hundred lives.

«I wanted to kill all over Ukraine so that my murders would form a big cross on the map if each killing was indicated by a red dot», Onoprienko, or «Citizen O» told during the trial. Fortunately he was caught before finishing the first arm of the cross. Good news of course for all the people he didn’t manage to slay. Still it doesn’t give any comfort to Tolik and his wife Natasha in the town of Malina in western Ukraine.

−My sister and her husband Sergej was about to go to bed when a rock broke this window, Tolik tells us and points at the window facing the garden.

−We will never know exactly what happened, but Sergej, my brother in law probably went out to see what was going on. My sister was shot right here in the living room, and Sergej was found in the garden with several deep cuts from an axe on the back of his hands, and a bullet in his body. We believe he got the cuts when we tried to protect himself from the attacker. When the parents were dead Onoprienko went upstairs and murdered the children in their beds. We just hope they didn’t wake up before he used his axe to end their young lives, Tolik says in a low voice.

The murder of Sergej and Galina Bodnarchuk and their kids followed a set pattern that became the killer’s gruesome signature. He normally chose an isolated house, gained the attention of the occupants by creating a commotion. He would then kill all occupants starting with the adult male, before going to find and kill the spouse and finally the children. He would then usually set the buildings on fire in an attempt to cover his tracks. For some reason he never torched the house of the Bodnarchuk’s, where Tolik and Natasha moved in eight years after the killings.

−Some people think we should have sold the house we inherited, but that wouldn’t have changed anything, Natasha says.

-It took us eight years to make our minds up, but we realised that life must go on. Nothing will bring our loved ones back anyway, Tolik adds.

The question you are left with as a journalist is this: What lessons can be learned by a terrible story like this? Sure it is exciting to be following the bloody tracks of someone as crazy and ruthless as Anatoly Onoprienko – but so what? Does the world become a better place after telling such a story?

The psychologist Ivan Ivanovich believes it does. At least he believes that there are reasons why killers become killers.

−I was fresh out of university when I was asked to do the interviews to determine the mental condition of «Citizen O», Ivanovich tells us.

− When Anatoly was four years old, his mother died. He was cared for by his grandparents and aunt for a time before being handed over to an orphanage. He suffered a lot there, and always blamed his father for leaving him. Onoprienko later alleged that it was this that predetermined his destiny, and remarked that seventy percent of those brought up in orphanages end up in prison as adults.

−Sure this case is extraordinary, and sure most kids in orphanages don’t end up as mass murderers, but I am convinced that the lack of love is a very important factor here, the psychologist says.

Onoprienko explained to Ivanovich that he felt «like a robot driven for years by a dark force».

The man that serves a life sentence for his crimes made it perfectly clear to the young psychologist that if he ever got out of prison, he would start killing again.

«But this time it will be worse, he stated, ten times worse. The urge is there…»

16 Responses to “The Scene of the Crime”

  1. […] Read more about Natasha and Tolik on Untold Stories. […]

  2. That is a chilling ending but I applaud the surviving family members moving into the house. While one thinks of ghosts haunting the place, or negative energy being present, it also would be a place of good memories of the family that are deceased. I am glad that guy is locked up.

  3. darknesslites Says:

    I’m glad he was stopped before he was able to carry out his plan. I hope they aren’t so stupid as to let him out, ever.

  4. Simply horrible and unimaginable.

  5. Speechless…

    Anatoly’s childhood reminds me of John Pridmore’s story. Due to his parents’ divorce then he became a bad boy. He was too little to understand what happened at that time and it did hurt him badly so he even swore not to ever love anybody as he didn’t believe that love does exist.

    After reading John’s story then it opens my mind that some people commit bad things or criminal offenses due to their unhappy childhood. There is an anger inside them that they even might not knowing it because they were too little or innocent to understand it.

    And to me it’s not only the parents or family who take part in this brutality directly but also the society indirectly.

    Thanks for sharing this story, Otto. Hope we all can learn from this to not to be selfish…

    My deep sympathy to all the victims as well as Anatoly. He is a victim as well…

  6. My daughter believes that there is no such thing as evil people, just damaged ones. I’m not sure I agree with her, but this terrible story does cause one to think and wonder.

  7. i often wonder how stories like this can make the world a better place. obviously this killer was made to be this way because of his dysfunctional upbringing. perhaps the only thing left to do is hope and pray those who have the responsibility of raising up children try to do the very best for them. love and care for them. but then again, giving love is sometimes the hardest thing to do.
    this was a wow story.

  8. very powerful story… I’m also not sure if telling this story makes the world a better place, but I think we have to tell what really happened and this tragic even did!

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