Nina Hilt [Victoria Bashenova]
Victim of Attachment Therapy
Killed July 2, 2005, at age 2
(in family home in Lake Forest, North Carolina)
Note: The following account has been prepared from press reports, personal interviews, trial transcripts, and other public records.
Peggy Sue Hilt, 33, plead guilty to a second degree murder charge in the death of Nina Hilt, 2, the little girl she and her husband had adopted from an orphanage in Siberia in May 2003 through Texas agency called Adoptions International. Hilt claimed she had never bonded with the girl and became furious before beating her to death. The girl’s body was bruised all over; the cause of death was “blunt trauma to the abdomen.”
In a 42-page confession, Hilt described the violence of that day in her Lake Forest, NC, home -- 16 months after Hilt and her husband brought Nina back from Russia. "She was not behaving and not listening and just crying. I was so angry so angry. I got up to her bedroom and I said stop it, stop it! I dropped her on the floor and I kicked her." She put the child on a bed and continued hitting her.
The father claims that Nina was affectionate with him, and only had some eating problems but appeared to be overcoming those. His wife claimed, “Since I brought Nina home we never bonded.” When asked who the child liked, she answered, "Anybody but me."
Peggy Sue Hilt: She was sentenced to 25 years in prison
for the death of her adopted daughter Nina.
Attachment Therapist Ronald S. Federici commented to the press about the Hilt case: "Parents try traditional parenting, try to treat them as normal kids, and they are so far off....Anyone can get in over their head. So what happens if they are not trained, if they are not prepared? Disasters happen like this one."
Prince William's chief prosecutor, Paul B. Ebert, said, “We can't justify our actions simply because we don't bond with the child. It’s a horrible case when an innocent child is beaten to death. It's hard to understand how anybody could do that."
Peggy Sue Hilt was sentenced to 35 years in prison, with ten years suspended. The murder of Nina Hilt received much publicity in Russia, where there is growing alarm about the number of Russian adoptees who have been killed by American parents.
- “Mother admits killing daughter: death of Russian child could imperil future adoptions,” By Theresa Vargas, The Washington Post, 2 Mar 2006.
- “Nina Hilt,” Abused Angels.
- “Remembering Nina” website.
- “Child murderer gets 25 years; Duma reconsiders legislation on foreign adoptions,” by Yuri Mamchur, Russia Blog/Human Rights Archive, 26 May, 2006.