Pianist's wife may have suffocated daughters in Texas home: police report

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 22, 2016 6:29 PM

By Lisa Maria Garza

DALLAS (Reuters) - The estranged wife of celebrated Ukrainian pianist Vadym Kholodenko is suspected of having smothered her children with pillows before attempting suicide inside their suburban Fort Worth home, according to a police report.

Sofya Tsygankova,31, charged on Monday with two counts of capital murder in the deaths of daughters, Nika, 5, and Michela, 1, was transferred to the medical unit of a county jail on Tuesday. She had been in an area hospital for treatment of what were suspected to be self-inflicted knife wounds, police in the suburb of Benbrook said.

Kholodenko, 29, left an area hotel on Thursday morning to pick up the children when he came across the crime scene at his wife's home, according to the arrest affidavit released on Tuesday. An official autopsy has not yet been released.

The award-winning pianist discovered his wife inside a bedroom closet, wearing a blood-soaked nightgown with cuts to her wrists and a puncture wound on her chest, the arrest record said.

Detectives found the children in separate bedrooms and both girls appeared to have been dead for some time. A pillow was found resting near or partially on top of their heads, the affidavit said.

She told detectives that she "didn't see any future for me and my kids" and admitted to wounding herself with a knife and swallowing a lot of pills.

She has not made any public statements about the deaths.

Police records show she visited a mental health facility in Tarrant County, Texas, the day before the children were found murdered.

Officers found at her residence an empty bottle of Quetiapine, an anti-psychotic drug used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression, which had been filled the same day.

Kholodenko and Tsygankova married in 2010, but filed for divorce last November, according to court records obtained by local media.

"Tsygankova had been going through some difficult times because of the divorce," the affidavit said, citing an interview with her sister, who lives in Amsterdam. 

In 2013, Kholodenko won the gold medal in the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. He is an artist in residence with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and was scheduled to perform last weekend before a replacement was named.

A public memorial service for the girls sponsored by the orchestra was planned for Tuesday evening at Arlington Heights United Methodist Church in Fort Worth.

(Reporting by Lisa Maria Garza; Editing by Jon Herskovitz and Sandra Maler)