Fort Worth

2 found dead in Benbrook believed to be Cliburn winner’s children

Kholodenko family moving to America

In 2014, Cliburn gold medalist Vadym Kholodenko and his family were interviewed by Star-Telegram reporter Andrea Ahles about their plans to settle in Fort Worth. Video by Andrea Ahles
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In 2014, Cliburn gold medalist Vadym Kholodenko and his family were interviewed by Star-Telegram reporter Andrea Ahles about their plans to settle in Fort Worth. Video by Andrea Ahles

Two little girls were found dead and their 31-year-old mother was found stabbed several times in their Benbrook residence Thursday morning, police said.

They appeared to be the wife and daughters of Vadym Kholodenko, gold medalist of the 2013 Cliburn competition who is scheduled to be guest artist this weekend with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.

Benbrook police did not identify the family.

At an afternoon news conference, police Cmdr. David Babcock, a department spokesman, said officers responding to a 911 call shortly before 9:30 a.m. found the children and their mother inside the duplex in the 6600 block of Waterwood Trail, off Southwest Boulevard and just north of Interstate 20. Babcock did not respond to repeated messages on Thursday evening.

The Tarrant County medical examiner’s office later identified the children as Nika Kholodenko, 5, and Michela Kholodenko, 1. The cause and manner of their deaths had not been posted by Thursday evening.

Woman on scene had multiple stab wounds and was taken to hospital

Neighbors said the couple who lived in the residence were Russian and Ukrainian, and that the husband was a concert pianist.

Vadym Kholodenko is from Ukraine.

Babcock said the children were not stabbed.

“We have not determined the cause of death of the children,” he said.

They had no visible physical injuries, and there were no signs of forced entry.

The mother, 31, was taken by ambulance to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. “We are waiting to speak with her,” Babcock said.

He said that it was too early to determine a suspect.

A divorce petition filed in Tarrant County in November identifies two girls by those names as the children of Vadym T. Kholodenko and Sofya I. Tsygankova.

The couple, the petition states, were married on April 21, 2010, but ceased to live together as man and wife on or about Aug. 15.

Kholodenko filed for divorce on Nov. 3, stating that the marriage had become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities between the couple, the petition says.

Tsygankova counter-petitioned for divorce on Nov. 24, the record shows.

The divorce was still pending as of Thursday.

Next-door neighbor Terri Messer said she learned what had happened when she arrived home from work and found her house encircled with yellow crime scene tape.

“They were very happy children,” Messer said. “She was a very attentive mother. I would see them together jumping on the trampoline. I saw them Wednesday morning. She was putting the children in the car.”

Babcock would not say who made the 911 call, other than to say “someone arrived at the scene and discovered the mother in distress.”

The modest duplex is in a quiet, residential neighborhood identified as Country Day Estates by the Tarrant Appraisal District.

On Thursday, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra announced the release of a new recording on the Harmonia Mundi label of two concertos by Prokofiev played by Kholodenko.

Officials of the Cliburn Foundation and the orchestra declined to comment Thursday night.

A symphony spokeswoman said in an email: “We are currently formulating our plan for this weekend’s concerts in light of the developing situation and will release a statement in the morning.”

Staff writer Deanna Boyd contributed to this report.

Mitch Mitchell: 817-390-7752, @mitchmitchel3

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