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Prosecutor: Mother Confesses To Killing Kids

Slain Children Stabbed More Than 200 Times

POSTED: 7:00 am CDT April 29, 2005
UPDATED: 4:52 pm CDT May 1, 2005

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Prosecutors say a suburban mother has confessed to killing her two children, but her public defender says he knows nothing of the alleged confession.

A Cook County judge denied bond Friday for Tonya Vasilev, who is charged with stabbing her young son and daughter to death.

Tonya Vasilev
Tonya Vasilev

Images: Mother Accused In Double Slaying
Video: Prosecutor: Mother Confesses
Video: Mother Also Injured
Video: Mother Suspected In Stabbing
Video: Relative Remembers Children
Images: More Slideshows

Tonya Vasilev, 34, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder for the Wednesday stabbing deaths of Christian Vasilev, 9, and Gracie Vasilev, 3.

Richard Karwaczka, the assistant Cook County state's attorney, described how the children's father discovered a horrific scene inside the family's Hoffman Estates home.

"Nikolai Vasilev arrived at his home at approximately 9:20 (p.m.) on April 27 to find his son, Christian, in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor. He grabbed his son, carried him. While going to the front door, he called 911," Karwaczka said.

The attorney said Nikolai Vasilev was frantic as he searched the house for his wife and his 3-year-old child, Gracie.

"He walked up the stairs. He found his other child, Grace, on the floor in a pool of blood and his wife with a knife in her hands," Karwaczka said.

When police arrived, they found the boy lying just inside the front door and carried him outside, where they tried in vain to resuscitate him, Hoffman Estates Police Lt. Rich Russo said.

Police said Gracie was attacked first, then Christian. Authorities said there were signs both children fought for their lives.

Police initially said the children had each been stabbed more than 100 times. However, a medical examiner revised that number Friday, saying each child suffered more than 200 knife wounds.

Officers said Tonya Vasilev was found upstairs with Gracie, who died at the scene.

Police said several knives, believed to be the murder weapons, were found in the home.

Courtesy: Daily Herald
Christian and Gracie Vasilev

"It really doesn't get much worse than this," Russo said.

Police did not say what they believe the motive for the crimes was. Police would not confirm published reports that Tonya Vasilev had undergone treatment for mental illness.

Chief public defender Scott Slonin met Vasilev moments before Friday's bail hearing. He said his client was "in mourning" over the deaths.

Prosecutors said Vasilev confessed to the slayings, but her defense attorney said he had not heard the alleged confession. Slonin said prosecutors did not say when the alleged confession was obtained, or whether it was recorded.

Tonya Vasilev also suffered lacerations, but did not suffer serious injuries. In court Friday, she wore a bandage on her left hand, apparently covering a wound she received Wednesday night.

Police questioned the children's parents after the crime occurred, but Nikolai Vasilev was released from custody Thursday night.


Police Reopen Previous Case

Police are also reopening an investigation into another child's death.

In May 2000, the Vasilevs' 3-month-old daughter died in a fire at an Elk Grove Village home.

Police said Thursday they would reopen an investigation into the fatal fire. In addition, the Illinois Division of Children and Family Services has begun an investigation into the Vasilev family. That was not done when the 3-month-old girl died.

At the time, Tonya Vasilev told investigators she left the baby in a baby carrier while she went to check on her son, who was playing outside. The young girl died of smoke inhalation.

Neighbors said Tonya Vasilev was outside the house "wailing" as an ambulance carried the baby away.

Family friend David Hill said the loss of the first child made the mother very cautious about her children's well-being.

"She was overprotective, always trying to make sure the kids were OK," Hill said. "When we went out to go do something, the kids were always around. She wouldn't let Gracie too much out of her sight."

Hill said that the family was hosting a Bulgarian family member, and that had led to some tension in the home. Investigators said they were not speaking with anyone who fits that description and reiterated that they were not looking for any other suspects in the case.

"The pastor was a man who really gave his heart out there who tried to do the best for his family," Hill said.

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