The Tetris Murders: 5 key details about the unsolved killings of Vladimir Pokhilko and his family

Vladimir Pokhilko
Details about the unsolved killings of Vladimir Pokhilko and his family (Image via Investigation Discovery/Youtube)

In 1998, Vladimir Pokhilko - one of the co-creators of the popular puzzle video game Tetris - and his family were the victims of a mysterious killing which was initially determined to be a murder-suicide.

The case has been a breeding ground for conspiracy theories for over two decades now, with many believing that it may have deep and dark connections to Russia as further speculation continues.

Sources state that Pokhilko, a well-known Russian game developer and engineer, brutally killed his wife and son at their Palo Alto, California, home, before killing himself.

Decades later, ID is slated to revisit the brutal deaths of the Pokhilko family in an upcoming docuseries titled The Tetris Murders, which premieres this Monday, December 5, 2022. The series will re-examine crucial evidence from the perspective of detectives and others involved in the case while also unraveling the dark secrets that may finally help in providing some answers for the investigation.

This article will further discuss a few significant details from the unsolved killings of Vladimir Pokhilko and his family.

Five facts to know about the unsolved killings of Vladimir Pokhilko and his family

1) Vladimir Pokhilko and his family were found dead inside their home in a grisly crime scene


On September 22, 1998, Vladimir Pokhilko, his wife, and their son were discovered dead in their Palo Alto residence in the 400 block of Ferne Avenue. Peter Pokhilko, 12, and Elena Fedotova, 38, were stabbed and beaten to death. Vladimir was discovered with his neck slashed.

Authorities alleged that Pokhilko fatally stabbed and bludgeoned his wife and son to death while they were supposedly asleep, before slicing his own neck with a large hunting knife. He was found in his son's room.

2) Pokhilko left behind a suicide note which was then discovered by authorities

Soon after the bodies were found, it was discovered that Vladimir Pokhilko had left behind a frantic, half-coherent note as a distressed man on the verge of breakdown. According to reports, he wrote in the note:

"I've been eaten alive. Vladimir. Just remember that I am exist. The davil. [sic]"

Authorities revealed that the note was found on the desk in Pokhilko's study but have failed to classify it as a suicide note. The grisly crime scene was searched for clues and meticulously investigated to deduce potential motives for the brutal killings.

3) One of the family's close friends found the crime scene and called authorities

A close family friend was the last person to speak to Vladimir Pokhilko the night of the murders. The same friend discovered the bloody crime scene the next day along with their bodies.

The person reportedly discovered Pokhilko's body in his son's bed. He was clutching an 8-inch hunting knife and had his throat savagely slit. The friend hurriedly called police after discovering the horrific scene.

4) The murder weapons were found not long after authorities arrived at the scene

According to the police, there was no indication of a struggle, which suggested that Vladimir Pokhilko brutally bludgeoned and stabbed his wife and son while they were asleep. Both the knife and a hammer were retrieved from the family's residence in the peaceful Green Dell area, located in the 400 block of Ferne Avenue in southern Palo Alto.

According to police, the deaths took place between 8 pm and 3:30 pm on September 21, 1998, and the bodies were discovered the following day. Their deaths were initially ruled a murder-suicide but many contrasting theories have surfaced ever since.

5) Authorities believe that Vladimir Pokhilko did what he did because of financial stress


At the time of his death, Vladimir Pokhilko, the president of AnimaTek, a San Francisco-based software design company, was suffering from serious financial pressure as he observed his friends and business partners preparing the profitable relaunch of Tetris, the most well-known puzzle-based video game in the world.

It is believed that in order to escape the financial stress, Vladimir then brutally killed his 12-year-old son, Peter Pokhilko, and wife Elena Fedotova before taking his own life.

A business partner claimed that Pokhilko was struggling with finances at the company partially as a result of the economic unrest in Russia, where 70 of AnimaTek's 82 employees were working. It was alleged that he committed the crime possibly because of business failings.

However, many other theories have surfaced ever since, some even alleging that the killings may have deep-rooted Russian connections.

The Tetris Murders premieres on ID this Monday, December 5, 2022.

Quick Links

Edited by Upasya Bhowal
Be the first one to comment