Detail of Russian entreprenuer's note reveals a tormented man

Publication Date: Wednesday Jan 27, 1999

POLICE: Detail of Russian entreprenuer's note reveals a tormented man

Palo Alto police still believe crime was a double-murder suicide

A desperate, semi-incoherent note written by the Palo Alto software engineer who police believe last year killed his wife and son before slashing his own throat reveals a tormented man on the brink of collapse.

"I've been eaten alive. Vladimir. Just remember that I am exist. The davil," read the note, according to Sgt. Scott Wong of the Palo Alto Police Department.

The note, found on the desk in the study of Vladimir Pokhilko's Palo Alto home, is not being classified by police as a suicide letter, said Wong, who supervised a team of investigators who combed through the bloody scene for clues and painstakingly researched all possible motives for the brutal slayings.

"There are different interpretations of what the note means," Wong said. "But any interpretation of the person writing the note is that they were under some stress." The note was sent to the FBI Crime Lab for analysis.

Pokhilko's body was found Sept. 22 by a close family friend lying next to his son's bed with his throat deeply slashed and holding an 8-inch hunting knife. The friend, who stumbled onto the tragic scene on Ferne Avenue, frantically called the police after also discovering that both Pokhilko's wife, Elena Fedotova, 38, and their 12-year old son had been bludgeoned and stabbed to death while apparently sleeping in their beds.

Police continue to believe Pokhilko, 44, was driven to despair by financial uncertainties faced by his San Francisco-based company, AnimaTek, which specializes in 3-D animation graphics software.

Palo Alto police last week sent a 200-page report on the crime to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office for review. A response from the district attorney should be in by the end of the week, Wong said.

The police consider their investigation closed. The district attorney's office, however, may not agree with the conclusion that the crime was a double-murder suicide, or they may have unanswered questions for police, Wong said.

The case will be officially closed only when the district attorney makes a final determination, he said. "We found nothing in our investigation that contradicts our original belief that the crime was a double-murder suicide," Wong said.

"We looked at all possible angles," he said. "There were no signs of forced entry, nothing was taken as far as we could tell, and there were no signs of a struggle."

--Loren Stein

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