Russian: 1st Killing Was "Like First Love"

A man accused of killing dozens of people and keeping count of them on a chessboard reveled in the memory of his first murder at his trial Tuesday, saying "it's like first love. It's unforgettable," news reports said.

Alexander Pichushkin also insisted that prosecutors charge him with all the murders he has taken credit for, saying to do otherwise would be unfair, RIA-Novosti and Interfax reported.

Pichushkin, who went on trial last month in one of Russia's most gruesome serial killing sprees, has confessed to murdering 63 people, with the goal of marking all 64 squares on the chessboard. Prosecutors charged him with 49 murders, most of them committed earlier this decade over the course of five years in Bittsa Park, a sprawling wild green area on the southern edge of Moscow.

The killings terrorized the capital and Russian media dubbed him the "Bittsa Maniac."

Experts at Russia's main psychiatric clinic have found that Pichushkin is sane.

In testimony at Moscow City Court, he recounted the details of his killings and reveled in the memory of his first killing, committed in 1992, long before the start of the murders that he is now charged with.

"This first murder, it's like first love. It's unforgettable," he was quoted by RIA-Novosti as saying.

He said in an earlier televised confession that he had killed his first victim, a classmate, in 1992 when he was 18. Police had questioned him then, but no charges were filed.

Prosecutors have focused on the series of killings in Bittsa Park in 2001, although he claims to have killed several people years earlier. Most of the victims were men, whom Pichushkin had lured to the park with the promise of a drink of vodka to mourn the death of his "beloved" dog.

Pichushkin killed 11 people in 2001, including six in one month, prosecutors said. He killed about 40 of his first victims by throwing them into a sewage pit, and in a few cases strangled or hit them in the head.

From 2005, he began to kill with "particular cruelty," hitting his intoxicated victims multiple times in the head with a hammer, then sticking an unfinished bottle of vodka into their broken skulls, prosecutors have said. He also no longer tried to conceal the bodies, leaving them at the crime scene.

Despite his claims to have killed many more, prosecutors have only charged Pichushkin with 49 murders and three kidnappings -- the incidents apparently investigators have been able to definitively link him to.

He claimed that he was aware that a woman whom he intended to kill left a note at home saying she was going for a stroll with him -- but killed her anyway. Police arrested him quickly afterward in June 2006.

"I burnt myself, so there's no need for the cops to take credit for catching me," he was quoted as saying. "I'm a professional."

On Tuesday, Russian news agencies reported, the court judge tried to limit Pichushkin from testifying about murders other those he was charged with.

"And the 63 doesn't interest you? Even though they found the bodies?" he was quoted as saying. "I thought it would be unfair to forget about the other 11 people."

In a confession that was televised earlier, he made similarly lurid claims about his need to commit murder saying: "For me, a life without murder is like a life without food for you."

Russian media have speculated that Pichushkin may have been motivated by a macabre competition with Russia's most notorious serial killer, Andrei Chikatilo, who was convicted in 1992 of killing 52 children and young women in 12 years.