Eden Prairie man charged with murders of wife, unborn son

- Charges were filed Tuesday afternoon in the murder of Lyuba Savenok, a pregnant 23-year-old wife and mother who was stabbed to death in her Eden Prairie, Minn. home on Saturday.

Yevgeniy "Eugene" Savenok, 30, is charged with two counts of murder. Bail has been set at $5 million, with an initial court appearance scheduled for Wednesday. Savenok faces one count of murder for Lyuba’s death, and one count for the death of her unborn son.

“We think this one is so bad, so clear cut, that we've got to make a statement in this business too, and we are making it today," said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman.

According to the charges, Savenok came home late Saturday morning, grabbed his two young children and put them in his car outside. He then went back into the house, grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed his wife. At about 1 p.m. Saturday, Savenok walked into United Hospital in St. Paul with the children and told a security guard that he just killed his wife. St. Paul police were called and Savenok was arrested.

In an interview with police, Savenok told investigators, “I stabbed my wife.” He admitted to stabbing Lyuba at least 7 times in her torso and upper chest and said he was trying to kill her. Savenok said that on his return trip from Chicago the night before, he thought about using a knife to kill his wife, and admitted to knowing that Lyuba was pregnant.

Emergency C-section attempted to save baby

The murder charges detail an emergency C-section in an attempt to save the life of Lyuba Savenok’s unborn son. The baby survived for several minutes before dying.

History of domestic violence

According to court documents, the apparent violent outburst inside the Park Circle home was not the first between the couple. Lyuba had an order for protection order against Eugene in Wheaton, Illinois, where the couple once lived.  The order for protection, filed in DuPage County, lists the following incidents:

Aug. 1, 2014: "Hit me during sex. I yelled, pushed him off and called the police. He broke a window out of rage."

Aug. 10, 2014: "Wrestled and hit me repeatedly (45 min), left bruises and bloody nose."

Aug. 25, 2014: "Pulled me up by the hair."

Aug. 27, 2014: "With the increase of incidents and the severity of them, I’ve gotten his parents and my parents involved as well as our church. I overheard him talking to his dad on the phone yesterday, telling him that the only way this will end is me in the hospital or him in jail. He has taken freedoms away from me such as my phone and my forms of identification, as well as use of our cars to keep me feeling alone and helpless and scared. He doesn’t intend on stopping and I don’t know when to expect his next outlash and its very emotionally difficult to live under the pressure."

Eugene Savenok was facing a trial next week on a couple of misdemeanor charges related to domestic abuse. In August 2015, Eden Prairie police arrived at the house after a 9-1-1 call. Lyuba told them her husband had hit her and she had bruises on her back to prove it. The court documents also detail verbal abuse directed at his wife that included swearing in front of their two kids. City prosecutors charged Eugene Savenok with two counts, and a settlement conference was scheduled for Tuesday in the case.

“Orders for protection are often very helpful but apparently they were living together," Freeman said. "And it’s hard to enforce an OFP when people continue to live together.”

'It happens in every community'

The executive director at Minnesota’s Battered Women Coalition said that it has to be a community effort to prevent violence in the home.

“We hear over and over again that people are surprised this has happened in my community, in Eden Prairie,” Liz Richards said. “It’s common. So what we do know is it happens in every community.”

Lyuba’s family was well aware of the violent history in the relationship, and they are now committed to raising her two children and making sure justice is done.

“When things got rocky, she would come back to Chaska to be near her parents, where she would feel safe,” brother Aleksandr Katane said. “They would take care of her. We were lucky to shelter her during those times.”

Celebrating Lyuba's life

Family statement released after Tuesday's charges were filed:

"It's hard for us to once again hear the details of Lyuba's senseless murder.  Her family, friends and loved ones feel deep sadness, loss and anger.  It has been especially difficult to learn that her son survived for a small time after the doctors tried to save him. Lyuba was going to name him Ellis.

"We are assured knowing that we live in a country where justice will be served and we are grateful that the children are both safe and cared for by Lyuba's parents. As the report states my sister Alisa (14) escaped the house as Lyuba was murdered so we are relieved to know that she is also safe.  Currently the entire family is focused on celebrating Lyuba's life at her funeral and also caring for her two remaining children.   

"Lyuba was in a very difficult marriage and no stone will be left unturned as we look for answers.  However at this time let's focus on celebrating her life, passions and coming together to set her children up for success."

How you can help

A GoFundMe page has raised $52,000 to help with funeral expenses and funds for the two young children left behind. The two children are staying with family.

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