Residents of Silicon Valley in California were left shocked when Vladimir Pokhilko, his wife, Yelena Fedotova, and their son, Peter Pokhilko, were found murdered inside their home. When a family friend discovered the body, the police initially believed it to be a homicide. Investigation Discovery’s ‘The Tetris Murders’ takes the viewer through the horrific incident and showcases how the FBI eventually took over the investigation. Well, let’s dive into the details surrounding the killings and more out more, shall we?
How Did Vladimir Pokhilko and Yelena Fedotova Die?
A native of Moscow, Russia, Vladimir Pokhilko completed a degree in Psychology from the Moscow State University in 1982 before playing an essential part in developing and distributing the video game ‘Tetris.’ He designed it alongside the original creator, Alexey Pajitnov, and the two even started a software company in Moscow before moving to the United States in the 90s. There, Vladimir resided in a friendly Silicon Valley neighborhood with his wife, Yelena, and son, Peter.
The family seemed to lead a comfortable life; people who knew them mentioned how Vladimir and his wife were kind and generous individuals who were more than willing to help others in need. On the other hand, Peter was a brilliant student with great future aspirations. However, all their dreams ended abruptly when a shocking incident claimed all three lives. On September 22, 1998, a family friend of the Pokhilkos tried to contact them over the telephone but failed.
Once several calls went unanswered, the friend decided to travel to their house to conduct a welfare check. Unfortunately, a shocking scene awaited him as he found Vladimir, Yelena, and Peter dead. Once first responders reached the site, they found all three family members lying unresponsive and immediately declared them dead. The whole house looked like a horror movie scene, with blood splatters over the walls, furniture, and beds.
Moreover, an initial investigation showed stab wounds on Yelena and Peter, yet an autopsy later determined that they were bludgeoned on the head before being fatally stabbed. Meanwhile, Vladimir had a deep slash on his throat, ultimately claiming his life. Surprisingly enough, there were no signs of forced entry or a physical altercation, indicating that the killings were an inside affair.
Who Killed Vladimir Pokhilko and Yelena Fedotova?
The initial investigation into Vladimir and Yelena’s deaths was incredibly challenging as the police barely had any leads to work with. Although the family friend helped identify the victims, and authorities recovered many blood samples from the crime scene, all of those were traced back to the Pokhilkos, putting detectives back on square one. Besides, even Vladimir and Yelena’s acquaintances had no idea why anyone would want to hurt the family.
When searching the crime scene, the police found a note on Vladimir’s table, which read, “I’ve been eaten alive. Vladimir. Just remember that I am exist. The davil.” Even though there was no sign of external involvement and most of the evidence led back to the family, authorities initially believed the note to be some form of threat, which made them classify the incident as a homicide. Hence, in the following days, they tried, but in vain, to devise a viable list of suspects, as the Pokhilkos mostly kept to themselves and did not have a lot of friends in the area.
Eventually, the FBI tried taking charge of the situation and, through their investigation, discovered how Vladimir had come to the United States in the 90s. They even learned that although he was involved in developing ‘Tetris,’ Alexey Pajitnov received most of the credit and revenue for the game. On the other hand, INTEC, a company Alexey and Vladimir had started in the United States, was on the verge of shutting down. In addition, AnimaTek, his company in Russia, couldn’t generate much revenue because of the economic unrest in the country.
Such developments stressed Vladimir as he had no idea how to support his family further. According to the show, the FBI believes that after getting overwhelmed by the anxiety and stress, he grabbed a knife and a hammer and murdered his family before slitting his own throat. This theory has always been a subject of debate as some claim that Vladimir couldn’t take his own life.
Researchers and investigators have also looked into the possible involvement of the Soviet Union, and some believe that the Russian Mafia might have ordered the hit on Vladimir and his family. However, with no evidence to support such claims, they should always be taken with a grain of salt. Thus, while a few people claim that Vladimir, Yelena, and Peter’s murders are still unsolved, the official documents identify the incident as a murder-suicide.