Medical Examiner: Kholodenko Children, Michaela And Nika, Asphyxiated With Pillows

An autopsy has revealed that the young daughters of concert pianist Vadym Kholodenko were most likely asphyxiated.

Their 31-year-old mother, Sofya Tsygankova, stands accused of killing her daughters and is facing two charges of capital murder.

Kholodenko went home for a scheduled visit — the pair were amid a divorce — last month to find his daughters, Michaela, 1, and Nika, 5, dead and his wife in a blooded nightgown.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported the ruling on the manner of the children’s deaths, which was made Thursday by the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office.

The medical examiner ruled that the girls were asphyxiated and determined the manner of death to be homicidal violence. This cause of death has been described as “most likely.”

An initial autopsy on the Kholodenko children, conducted in March, was inconclusive and the girls showed no visible signs of trauma.


According to the arrest warrant for Tsygankova, investigators believe the children were asphyxiated with pillows.

The death of the Kholodenko children was discovered at the family home in Benbrook on March 17, however rigor mortis had set in by the time they were discovered.

That day, Kholodenko came home to find a horrifying scene. He arrived there for a scheduled visit and discovered his estranged wife wearing a blooded night gown, cuts on her wrists and a puncture wound in her chest.

The Dallas Morning News reported that Sofya had tried to “kill herself in several different ways.”

Kholodenko called 911 to report that his wife “was going crazy.” Police arrived soon after to find the woman on her knees in the master bedroom, “rocking back and forth and making noises.” She told police later that she believed she’d killed herself and thought her children were with their father.

Tragically, they had been asphyxiated.

Police located the children in the house, dead. Nika was found on in the children’s small bed with pink bedding, wearing a zip-up onsie with a pillow nearby that appeared to be from the master bedroom. A small spot of biological fluid was found on the pillow.

Michaela was found in the master bedroom. A pillow was partially resting on her head and was soiled with the same type of biological fluid.

According to a previous Inquisitr report, Sofya reportedly only remembers taking pills and cutting herself with a knife.

The day before the girls were asphyxiated, police learned that she visited a Mental Health and Mental Retardation facility in Fort Worth. She left the children with a babysitter.


During their investigation, the authorities found a recently-filled prescription bottle for a medicine called Quetiapine, an antipsychotic prescribed to people with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Sofya is still in county jail in lieu of $2 million bail and has pleaded not guilty to two charges capital murder. As the Inquisitr previously reported, these charges could result in the death penalty in the state of Texas.

Kholodenko is an award-winning concert pianist who moved from Russia to Fort Worth his family in 2014 after he won a piano competition. Kholodenko is Ukrainian and his Tsygankova is Russian; the couple got married in 2010.

They moved to the U.S. after war erupted between the Ukrainian government and separatist forces in Russia. Kholodenko was reportedly harassed and feared for his family. After moving to the Fort Worth area, Nika was born.

In November 2014, Kholodenko filed for divorce, claiming that he and his wife had stopped living together as a married couple the previous August. He cited discord and conflict in personalities as cause for divorce. Tsygankova filed a counterpetition for divorce in November.

[Photo by rage0815/Shutterstock]