Julia Biryukova, mother of Sky Metalwala, 2, told police she left him in the car alone while she and her four-year old daughter walked to a gas station to get fuel for the car. She said her son disappeared when they returned about an hour later. But the Associated Press
reports that police have discovered that she wasn't running out of gas, contradicting her original story, and they've found other discrepancies as well.
Police say that they've determined that there was enough gas in the car to take it much further, but they note they haven't eliminated the idea that there might have been some other problem with the car.
Tips from the public are coming in to police. They say most have been unhelpful, but a few of them have wondered if there is a connection to a TV show that ran on the day before Sky was reported missing. Bellevue Police Major Mike Johnson says
"There was an episode of "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" about a missing child that was strikingly similar in nature to this real life mystery. The public, I'm sure, is as frustrated as we are in the fact that mom isn't willing to come in and provide a polygraph. To be quite honest, that looks suspicious and we're puzzled by that."
The New York Daily News
reports that Johnson said Biryukova's story has become increasingly unstable as police have tried and failed to find any evidence that supports the facts as she has presented them. She has also refused to take a lie-detector test, although her husband has taken one.
Johnson points out, however, that Biryukova has been cooperative in other ways, by answering every police question through her attorney, driving police along the route she drove and then walked, and allowing complete access to her home and car. He says,
"We want to believe Julia. We want to help her find her missing child."
Johnson says he has learned from Biryukova that she was on her way with the boy to the hospital because he didn't feel well. But he says it's confusing because she left her purse, her wallet and even any identification at home, so it didn't make sense how she would have her son treated at the hospital, or how she would get gas to refuel her car.
It turns out all this was going on amid a bitter divorce and custody fight between Biryukova and the boy's father, Solomon Metalwala. The couple spent time with a mediator for 12 hours trying to work things out, and actually reached a tentative agreement giving Metalwala to have some visitation time with little Sky and his sister. But just two days later, and two days before 2-year old Sky's disappearance was reported, Biryukova said she was pulling out of the agreement. Her soon-to-be ex-husband Metalawa's divorce attorney, D. Michael Tomkins says that in a letter he received by Biryukova;s attorney that everyone at the mediation session had been against her and the settlement was unfair.
Tompkins brings up the thought that since the children weren't in attendance at the mediation session, it is possible they were left alone, increasing chances that Sky became dehydrated.
It is stated in the divorce papers that Biryukova suffers from "severe" obsessive-compulsive disorder. Metalwala declared that she would frequently go on 10-hour cleaning binges during which she wouldn't even feed the children, but a doctor says that her diagnosis should not have interfered with her ability to care for the children.
But Chief Johnson said Biryukova admits she has a history of leaving the children home alone for extended periods of time.
Investigators are now zeroing on processing the car for forensic evidence. They also are giving voluntary polygraph exams to the boy's father and his relatives and taking DNA samples to match with DNA evidence found at Biryukova's apartment.
Johnson said the direction of the investigation has changed because they've run out of options for searching for the child. He denies media reports that police are searching landfills or garbage transfer stations, but does not rule out that possibility if evidence indicates they should go there.
Court records show that when Sky was 3 months old, his parents left him in their SUV in a Target parking lot for 55 minutes on a 27-degree day. It was only when police arrived on the scene and asked the store to page the couple, that they came outside and checked on their son. In that case, Redmond police cited both parents with reckless endangerment. But earlier this year, the case was dismissed after the parents finished a year of probation, 40 hours of community service and a 10-week parenting class.