Choice between Mentally Ill, Insane Psychiatrist: Tonya Vasilev Stabbed Her Children as Part of Paranoid Delusion

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Byline: Kara Spak Daily Herald Staff Writer

As Tonya Vasilev stabbed her two children over and over again in their Hoffman Estates home on April 27, 2005, she kept telling them she loved them and was protecting them, a psychiatrist said Friday.

Vasilev's actions were part of an elaborate paranoid delusion she still lives under, said Dr. Phillip Resnick, who has examined high-profile child killers Marilyn Lemak, Susan Smith and Andrea Yates.

Vasilev believes an acquaintance planned to kidnap her children, enlist them in a child pornography ring, abuse them and turn them against God, Resnick said. She believed her house and phone were tapped and that a silver car she saw repeatedly on her street carried the kidnapper.

The acquaintance did have a criminal past - a welfare fraud conviction in Hawaii, Resnick said. That black mark on his record was enough to fuel her belief that her children were in imminent danger and the only way she could protect them from Hell was to send them to heaven. She's asked for the death penalty, he said, because she wants to be there, too.

"She was protecting them from what she saw as a fate worse than death," Resnick said, later adding, "She felt she would face her maker with a pure heart."

Vasilev was immediately arrested after her husband, Nik, and a friend, Ivan Todorov, walked into their home at 1165 John Drive and found Christian, 9, covered in blood on the first floor. At the top of the stairs sat Vasilev, a kitchen knife in one hand, with 3- year-old daughter Grace dead beside her, also covered in stab wounds.

Vasilev stabbed the children more than 550 times total. Hoffman Estates police officers testified Friday they could not give the children CPR because air escaped through their chest wounds.

"I observed a large amount of blood, everywhere" said Hoffman Estates officer Joseph Kruschel. "It was on the walls, on the floor, on the carpet."

After more than a year of treatment at the Elgin Mental Health Center, which included shock therapy and intense use of psychotropic medications, Vasilev has never been found mentally fit to stand trial.

Instead, a discharge hearing similar to an abbreviated trial was held Friday in a Chicago courtroom before Cook County Judge Lawrence P. …