Sofya Tsygankova, of Benbrook, Texas, has been charged with capital murder in the deaths of her five-year-old and one-year-old daughters. She is the estranged wife of an internationally known pianist, the 2013 winner of the prestigious Van Cliburn International Pianist Competition, Vadym Khlodenko.
In an arrest affidavit obtained by Heavy, it states that at 9:27 am on March 17, Benbrook Police Department officers were dispatched to the home on a “report of a welfare concern.” The caller, identified as Vadym Kholodenko, told police that his was wife had blood on her and was “going crazy,” and that their two daughters were in bed and not moving. Tsygankova has plead not guilty, saying she has no recollection of killing her children.
Here’s what you need to know now:
1. She Didn’t Want to Live & Sought Mental Health Treatment the Day Before the Murders
The affidavit states that Tsygankova, 31, has a history of mental illness and had visited a Mental Health and Retardation Facility in Fort Worth, Texas, just one day before her daughters, Nika Kholodenko, 5, and Michela Kholodenko, 1, were discovered murdered. She told police that she remembered taking a lot of pills and also stated that she “didn’t want to live.” Tsygankova also remembered that sometime in the night she had a knife, but has no recollection of smothering her children to death. She was quoted as saying to police that she “didn’t see a future for me and the kids.”
A friend of the family, Anna Grevtseva, arrived at the home and told police Tsygankova has been having a difficult time dealing with the impending divorce from Khlodenko. The affidavit states that an empty bottle of Quetiapine, dated 3/16/16, was found on the kitchen counter. The drug is used to treat bipolar, depression, and schizophrenia.
2. She Lost a Job Two Days Before the Murders, But Also Worked as a Pianist
In the arrest affidavit, Tsygankova wrote that she lost her job at Texas Christian University just two days prior, and her husband has been paying the bills since their separation in September. The university would not confirm Tsygankova’s employment to Heavy.
In her biography, it says that Tysgankova grew up in a musical family and started studying music at the age of six. At only nine-years-old, she won her first contest. She went onto attend Novosibirsk Conservatory to further her studies, and during this time won several national and international competitions. Several musical festivals and orchestras awards followed, and she won “grand prize at the competition named after Safonova in Pyatigorsk and first prize in the competition named after Chopin in the Czech Republic.” The last competition shown on her biography took place in Barletta, Italy, in 2013, where she took second prize in the Mauro Paolo Monopoli piana competition.
3. Tsygankova Moved With Her Family From Ukraine in 2010, & Her Husband Filed for Divorce in August
Tsygankova and Kholodenko were married in Ukraine in 2010 when their oldest daughter, Nika, was three. At this time, she took a break from work to tend to Nika. In 2014 the family moved to Fort Worth from war-stricken Ukraine in hopes of finding better medical care for their daughter.
In September, Kholodenko filed for divorce. The circumstances behind the filing are not known. “They seemed like such a wonderful family. They seemed very happy together. I don’t know what happened.” Tsygankova’s father-in-law, Timur Kholodenko, told the Sun-Telegram.
4. Her Husband Traveled Often, Leaving Tsygankova to Care for Their Children on Her Own
Being the prestigious pianist that Kholodenko is, his work often took him away from the family. In an interview with Star-Telegram in 2014, Tsygankova said, “We didn’t see a lot of Vadym in Moscow when he’s traveling a lot around the U.S. It would be impossible for him to come home for one day between concerts.” She gave in to moving to the United States because of skin problems their daughter was having. In Texas, they had much better healthcare available.
Having her husband around seemed to make her content and put her at ease. “It’s very important for me to be here so that I can hear my husband and how he’s practicing,” Tsygankova went onto tell the Star-Telegram.
5. She Has Plead Not Guilty to Murdering Her Daughters & Is Being Held in Tarrant County Jail
At a brief court appearance in Fort Worth this morning, Tsygankova’s lawyer, Joetta Keene, entered a plea of not-guilty on her behalf. Dressed in a yellow jumpsuit and not uttering a single word, Tsygankova appeared dazed and stoic.
While her lawyer declined to comment on the affidavit specifically, she said in a written statement, “This is, no doubt, a very heartbreaking case for everyone involved.” According to the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department, she is being held in the medical housing unit of the jail after trying to commit suicide.