2 Children of Renowned Pianist Found Dead in Benbrook Home | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

2 Children of Renowned Pianist Found Dead in Benbrook Home

The children's father is internationally-known pianist Vadym Kholodenko

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    Two children were killed and their mother stabbed in a bizarre crime involving the family of an internationally known pianist in Benbrook. (Published Thursday, March 17, 2016)

    Two children were killed and their mother stabbed Thursday in a bizarre crime involving the family of an internationally known pianist in North Texas, Benbrook police said.

    The children's father is pianist Vadym Kholodenko. Police said Friday morning he is not a suspect in the case and his estranged wife will be held for a mental health evaluation once she recovers from her wounds.

    Someone who went to the house to check on the family on the 6600 block of Waterwood Trail called 911 at about 9:30 a.m., according to Benbrook Police Cmdr. David Babcock.

    Officers found the mother — identified by neighbors as 31-year-old Sofya Tsygankova — stabbed but still alive. Her two daughters, identified by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner as 5-year-old Nika Kholodenko and 1-year-old Michela Kholodenko, were both dead.

    According to the medical examiner, the children were found in bed. Unlike their mother, police said, they had no visible injuries.

    "The manner of death has not been determined at this time, but they were not stabbed," Babcock said. "Until we speak to the mother, it's too early in this investigation to establish any suspects or motives at this point," Babcock said.

    Police Update Benbrook MurdersPolice Update Benbrook MurdersBenbrook Police Cmdr. spokesperson David Babcock updated the media regarding the murders of two children found inside a Benbrook home. (Published Thursday, March 17, 2016)

    Tsygankova was rushed to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, where she underwent surgery. Her condition is not known.

    Court records obtained by NBC 5 show Kholodenko filed for divorce from Tsygankova in November. Kholodenko's attorney wrote that the couple married in 2010 and stopped living together as a couple last August. Tsygankova filed a counter-suit, records show, asking for attorney fees.

    Neighbors said they didn't know anything about the divorce but added that Tsygankova seemed like a good mother who loved her children and frequently jumped with them on a trampoline in their back yard.

    "She played outside with them," said Messer. "If they were on the trampoline, she was on the trampoline."

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    Inside the family's garage Thursday, a suitcase on the floor and a balloon that said "I love you," provided few clues about what happened inside the house.

    In 2013, Kholodenko became the first winner of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, which was held following the death of acclaimed American pianist Harvey Lavan "Van" Cliburn Jr., according to Kholodenko's biography.

    Kholodenko was scheduled to perform three shows with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra this weekend.

    A statement issued late Thursday by the symphony said, "We are currently formulating our plan for this weekend's concerts in light of the developing situation and plan to release a statement in the morning."

    David Kulesz, the attorney representing Kolodenko in his divorce, released the following statement Friday morning on his client's behalf: "Mr. Kholodenko is experiencing great grief at this time and has no further comment. Thank you for respecting his privacy."

    Babcock said a suspect has not been determined, and there were no signs of forced entry at the home.

    "It's very disturbing," said Terri Messer, who lives on the other side of the family's rented duplex. "I wouldn't have expected anything like this."


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