"To me killing people is like ripping open a duvet. Men, women, old people, children, they are all the same. I have never felt sorry for those I killed. No love, no hatred, just blind indifference. I don’t see them as individuals, but just as masses." - Anatoly Onoprienko
Anatoly Onoprienko was dubbed the “Beast of Ukraine,” and killed entire families in remote villages of the Ukraine from 1989 to 1995. I bring him up because serial mass murder perpetrated by an individual is almost unheard of. Usually such actions are carried out by a group of people (The Manson Family), a government (Camir Rouge) or an ideological faction (Al Qaeda). When studying the Midwest Axe Man investigators don’t have much precedent to look at. What drives a person to not only kill an entire family but to actively seek families as their victims? In the case of Onoprienko it was revenge. Revenge for his father abandoning him to an orphanage; revenge for his mother dieing while he was a young boy and allowing his father to take the action he did. He would burn down the houses after killing the occupants because he didn’t want to just kill the family, he wanted to destroy it. To Anatoly the concept of a family was a cruel joke played on him by society.
Onoprienko’s actions indicated clearly he hated his victims, or at least what they represented to him. He wasn’t killing people; he was killing “family,” literally and symbolically. His preferred weapon was a sawed-off shotgun except when it came to females. In two different crimes he used the more personal bludgeoning weapon (in one case an axe, the other a hammer) on the female victims. With the Midwest murders this hatred isn’t evident except in one crime scene, Ellsworth. In contrast, he covered his victims and this is just one signature element present at all the crime scenes. As I’ve said before, covering the body shows a certain amount of remorse, whether for the victims, the crime or both is what is hard to ascertain.