Texas police are now accusing Sofia Tsygankova, 31, the estranged wife of internationally acclaimed pianist Vadym Kholodenko, 29, of killing their two daughters and intentionally stabbing herself, the Guardian is reporting.
Kholodenko had arrived at his wife’s house in Benbrook, a suburb in Fort Worth, Texas, on the morning of Thursday, March 17 to take the girls out, only to find them slain in their beds and Sofia in a “state of extreme distress.” Police say Kholodenko had called 911 around 9:30 a.m. and was not considered a suspect.
— domingo ramirez jr. (@mingoramirezjr) March 22, 2016
With the new developments, Sofya Tsygankova now faces two counts of capital murder in the deaths of 1-year-old Michela and 5-year-old Nika.
Police commander David Babcock said Monday that Sofya Tsygankova has been served with arrest warrants for homicidal violence at a Fort Worth hospital, where she is being treated for her knife wounds and undergoing a mental assessment.
“We have probable cause and reason to believe that she committed the homicides,” Babcock told reporters at a news conference Monday.
The charges could attract the death penalty in Texas. He also disclosed that the police were not looking for additional suspects in the murder cases.
The Tarrant medical examiner’s office said it was unclear how the girls were murdered, as there were no visible signs of trauma and autopsies remain uncompleted. Tsygankova’s bond is set at $2 million, and she will be taken to the Tarrant County jail after her mental assessment. Her attorney has refused to comment on the situation.
The family had lived in Moscow before moving to the United States in 2014. Kholodenko is Ukrainian, while his wife is a Russian citizen. Their move to America was facilitated by Kholodenko after war broke out between the Ukrainian government and Russian separatist forces. Kholodenko said he was always harassed and feared for his family.
He chose the Forth Worth area because of his ties to the city’s symphony orchestra. He also hoped to use the opportunity to seek medical treatment for his daughter Nika, who had a skin condition.
Court records show that Kholodenko and Tsygankova married in 2010, but Kholodenko filed for divorce in November 2014, citing discord and conflict in personalities. Kholodenko no longer stayed at the family home but always made out time to visit the children in the mornings.
BREAKING: Wife of Van-Cliburn winning pianist Vadym Kholodenko charged with capital murder for death of daughters pic.twitter.com/hX4zAdOn3s
— Sarah Mervosh (@smervosh) March 21, 2016
Terri Messer, a neighbor, said Tsygankova was a good mother and a “very attentive one who would watch the children closely whenever they were outdoors. If they were on the trampoline she was on the trampoline too.”
“It’s very disturbing…I certainly wouldn’t have expected anything like this, very sad for the family and for the children,” she concluded.
In 2013, Kholodenko won the celebrated Van Cliburn international piano competition, triumphing over 30 finalists from 12 countries and winning $50,000 in prize money. The win shot him to international fame, gifting him with tour dates both domestically and internationally.
The concert pianist was scheduled to perform with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra when the incident took place. Babcock disclosed that police had been called to the house two times before the killings on Thursday. However, he declined to give details about what prompted the calls or if anyone was charged.
In a released statement, Kholodenko said that “the loss of my children will be with me forever, wherever I go after this tragedy; my heart will stay with all the people here of Fort Worth and my daughters will rest in this soil.”
[Image via Shutterstock/zimmytws]