BENBROOK (CBSDFW.COM) – The mom accused of killing her two young daughters at their home in Benbrook went before a judge in Fort Worth for the first time Wednesday morning.
Sofya Tsygankova, who appeared to have bandages and marks on her arms and chest where police say she stabbed herself, showed little emotion as she entered the courtroom. Once there, Judge Ruben Gonzalez said to Tsygankova, “Ma’am I have some paperwork indicting that you cannot afford a lawyer. Is that correct?”
After a reply that was barely audible, representatives assisting Tsygankova said she had indicated financial hardship on filed paperwork. The judge then found the 31-year-old to be indigent, accepted her plea of not guilty and set her bond at $1 million for each count of capital murder.
Tsygankova was remanded back to custody and returned to the Tarrant County Jail. From beginning to end, the court proceeding took less than two minutes.
The hearing came less than 24 hours after disturbing new details were released in the case.
Tsygankova sat behind bars Tuesday night as friends and family members gathered to remember the two little girls that she has been accused of killing. Earlier authorities shared more information about what happened when their father found the horrible crime scene.
Police documents stated that famed pianist Vadym Kholodenko went to pick up his oldest daughter for school at a home in the 6600 block of Waterwood Trail. When he got there, he found that his estranged wife “was going crazy and was covered in blood.” Police officers arrived and found Tsygankova in a blood-stained night gown. She was “rocking back and forth, and making noises.”
The mother had a puncture wound to her chest and a cut on the inside of her wrist. The two little girls — 5-year-old Nika and 1-year-old Michela — were found dead in separate bedrooms, face down in their beds with pillows covered in bodily fluids. A court document stated that Michela was suffocated, but only said that Nika died from “homicidal violence.” The two girls were cold to the touch and showed signs of rigor mortis.
Tsygankova was interviewed by investigators at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth before being transferred to jail. She told them, “I committed suicide” and remembered taking pills. An empty prescription bottle was found on her kitchen counter. It had been filled a day earlier with medication often used to treat mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Records show that Tsygankova had visited a mental facility on the day before the murders. Police said that she “didn’t see any future for her and the kids.” She appeared to not remember hurting the children, at one point even asking investigators, “Did I do anything bad to my kids?” Tsygankova will have a psychological evaluation at a special medical unit on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, a mourning Kholodenko on Tuesday night used music to pay tribute to the memories of his young daughters, part of a memorial service held in their honor. Kholodenko did not speak during the service, but he did play a song on the piano accompanied by three other musicians. More than 200 people were in attendance.
Tsygankova worked briefly at TCU. The university issued this brief statement on the matter:
Sofya Tsygankova was a temporary part-time employee of Texas Christian University hired in February 2016. The last day she worked was Wednesday, March 16.