Police: No one but mom had seen Wash. boy recently
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
BELLEVUE, Wash. (AP) — Aside from the mother of a missing Washington state toddler, no one has reported seeing the boy in the past two weeks, police said Tuesday.
Detectives have questioned relatives, family friends, neighbors — everyone close to the family of 2-year-old Sky Metalwala, said Bellevue police spokeswoman Carla Iafrate.
The last time someone recalled seeing him was about two weeks ago, she said. Lafrate said she didn’t immediately have other details of the sighting, except that it was reported by someone who was not a family member.
The boy was reported missing Sunday morning in the city of 122,000 across Lake Washington from Seattle.
His mother, Julia Biryukova, told police she left him sleeping alone in her unlocked car for an hour after it ran out of gas, while she and her 4-year-old daughter walked to a gas station. When they returned to the car, the boy was gone, Biryukova reported.
Frustrated investigators said Tuesday they have no leads in the disappearance, which came amid a divorce and bitter custody fight between the toddler’s parents. Investigators have invited the boy’s relatives to take polygraph tests in hopes of shaking loose any clues to his whereabouts.
“Given the limited amount of information we have, the fact that there’s really no solid leads to follow up on in regard to where he might be — absolutely, we suspect foul play,” Police Maj. Mike Johnson told reporters. “Nothing about the story adds up. Something else happened.”
Nevertheless, police spokeswoman Carla Iafrate emphasized that investigators have no suspects, and Officer Seth Tyler said no evidence has emerged to contradict the mother’s story.
“‘Foul play’ basically means someone knows where Sky is,” Tyler said.
Neither Biryukova nor her attorney has returned calls from the Associated Press seeking comment.
Both parents are considered to be cooperating, Iafrate said. Biryukova consented to let police search her car and home, but has so far refused to take a lie detector test.
The boy’s father, Solomon Metalwala, voluntarily took a polygraph Monday night. The results were inconclusive so he offered to take another one Tuesday, Iafrate said. His lawyer told television news stations the results were invalid because of Metalwala’s agitated and exhausted emotional state.
Investigators planned to remove the car’s gas tank to see how much gas was in it, in addition to processing the vehicle for fingerprints, Tyler said.
After being together for 14 years, Biryukova and Metalwala separated in March 2010 amid allegations of abuse and mental problems.
At a mandatory mediation session last week, the parties reached a tentative agreement that would allow Metalwala to have some visitation with Sky and his older sister, said his lawyer, Leslie Clay Terry III.
Metalwala has publicly questioned his estranged wife’s story about what happened to their son, telling reporters he didn’t understand why she left the toddler in the car. “The whole story is puzzling,” Metalwala said Monday.
If Sky was in fact left in the car, it wouldn’t be the first time.
When he was 3 months old, his parents left him in their sport utility vehicle in a Target parking lot for 55 minutes on a 27-degree day, court records showed. The couple came out of the store to get Sky only after police arrived and asked for the vehicle’s owner to be paged.
Redmond police cited both parents for reckless endangerment in the December 2009 incident. However, the case was dismissed early this year after the pair completed a year of probation, 40 hours of community service and a 10-week parenting class.
In court documents filed in their divorce, Biryukova said their relationship deteriorated in 2008 after they bought an expensive home in Kirkland and couldn’t keep up with the payments on that property and a condominium they owned.
The divorce case has been marked by back-and-forth protection orders. She accused her husband of beating her and the children; he alleged she had severe psychiatric problems that endangered them.
Terry said state Child Protective Services later conducted an investigation that cleared Metalwala.
Meanwhile, a social worker reported this year that a doctor found Biryukova to be in good mental health and an appropriate caregiver for the kids.