Friday, November 4, 2016

Disappearance of Sky Metalwala

Disappearance of Sky Metalwala --- ===

November 6, 2011 On the morning of November 6, 2011, Sky Elijah Metalwala (born September 6, 2009) of Redmond, Washington, United States, was reportedly sick. His mother, Julia Biryukova, said she put him and his older sister in the car along a Bellevuestreet to go to a nearby hospital; along the way she claims to have run out of gas. She left him in the car while she went to get help; when she returned he was gone and has not been seen since. His mother is Ukranian, father is a Muslim Pakistani.

Two weeks after Sky disappeared, Biryukova finally discussed the case with the media. ABC News obtained an email address that her relatives said was hers and used it to contact her. She reiterated that she had no idea where the boy was and called her ex-husband a "sadistic Muslim Pakistani" who was not telling the truth himself. About the case itself, she said her lawyer had instructed her not to discuss it with anyone; she ignored a specific question about whether she had indeed run out of gas that morning.[15]


  • Disappearance
  • JIhad
  • Muslim suspect
  • Russian suspect


Disappearance of Sky Metalwala - Wikipedia
Sky at the time of his disappearance, left, and age progressed to what he might look like at age 6 in 2014

On the morning of November 6, 2011, Sky Elijah Metalwala (born September 6, 2009) of Redmond, Washington, United States, was reportedly sick. His mother, Julia Biryukova, said she put him and his older sister in the car along a Bellevuestreet to go to a nearby hospital; along the way she claims to have run out of gas. She left him in the car while she went to get help; when she returned he was gone and has not been seen since.[1]
The case was reported to police, who soon came to doubt Biryukova's account since her car was found to have enough gas in its tank and was in working order. It also shared similarities with an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unitthat had been rebroadcast in the Seattle area the night before.[2] Shortly before, Biryukova had decided to withdraw from a mediated custody agreement that was the last stage of an acrimonious divorce from Sky's father, Solomon Metalwala. Solomon has remained active in assisting police with the investigation, believing Sky's disappearance was related to the custody dispute.[3]
Biryukova has been less cooperative with the police, although she claims to have no more idea than her ex-husband of what happened to Sky. Although there have been allegations that she neglected Sky when he was in her custody, and state child-welfare agencies have tried to remove a child she had with a later husband with a history of abuse,[4] police have made a "strategic decision" not to charge her with child endangerment for leaving her son in the car on the day he disappeared, to keep their options open if they learn more about Sky's fate.[1]

Sky Elijah Metalwala
Two images of a young boy with a short dark haircut and brown eyes that strongly resemble each other. On the left is one that appears to be a photograph of the boy wearing a dark blue T-shirt with neon green collar; on the right he is smiling, appears older, more posed, and wears a blue shirt
Sky at the time of his disappearance, left, and age progressed to what he might look like at age 6 in 2014
BornSeptember 6, 2009 (age 7)
Bellevue, Washington, U.S.
DisappearedNovember 6, 2011 (aged 2)
StatusMissing for 4 years, 11 months and 28 days
EthnicityUkrainianPakistani American
Height2 ft 10 in (86 cm)
Weight39 lb (18 kg)


Both of Sky's parents were immigrants to the United States. Solomon Metalwala is originally from Pakistan; Julia Birukova is a Ukrainian born in Russia, where she later claimed to have been subjected to shock therapy in mental hospitals during her childhood as punishment, in addition to regular disciplinary beatings by her parents, with serious negative effects on her self-esteem as a result.[5] Solomon had been running a convenience store when the two met.[2]
Biryukova met her future husband at age 15, in 1997, three years after emigrating from Russia.[6] At that time she was a student at Bellevue High School. Metalwala, then 21, invited her to a party. The two began dating, and she worked at a restaurant his family owned in Seattle's Pioneer Square neighborhood. By 1999, when she finished high school and was naturalized, the couple bought a Bellevue condominium to live in.[5]
While Biryukova and Metalwala enjoyed work and many leisure activities together, there was some friction between them. Police in Kirkland were called when the couple were seen arguing loudly at a local gas station over their plans for the evening. The man gave his name as Sulaiman Metalwala, supposedly Solomon's brother.[5]
Biryukova later told a clinical psychologist she saw that by this point she had learned that her boyfriend could be "very controlling" and she became emotionally dependent on him in turn. Nevertheless, in 2003, she married him in a brief ceremony in his mother's kitchen. Later she said his family gave her the choice of either doing so or never seeing him again, since they claimed he was facing imminent deportation, for reasons that are not known. Biryukova did not tell her family the real reason the two had wed until 2010, she claimed later.[5]
In 2005 Metalwala converted to Christianity; he and his wife began attending a church in Kirkland. Biryukova believed that her in-laws blamed her for this, straining their relationship with her and causing more problems in their marriage. Within two years they were experiencing financial problems as well, when a competing deli opened next to their restaurant, cutting into their earnings.[5] Daughter Maile, their first child, was born in 2007.[1]
Business further declined in the Great Recession that began in 2008. Despite those setbacks, the two bought a home in Kirkland that year for over $800,000, in addition to the mortgage payments they still had to make on their Bellevue residence.[5]
Sky was born in 2009; a psychiatrist Biryukova saw prescribed her antidepressants while she was pregnant although she said she did not need them. By then lenders were beginning to foreclose the family's properties and they were in arrears on many of their bills. They had to move out of the Kirkland home and into the smaller Bellevue residence. Solomon claimed in later court papers that here his wife's psychological problems began to manifest themselves as he began eating outside and sleeping on the floor to comply with her obsession with keeping the condominium clean. The board cited the couple several times for violating noise regulations; at one point they awoke their neighbors with vacuuming after 11 p.m. She, in turn, alleged he became controlling and angry.[7]
When the boy was two months old his parents left him alone in their car in a Target parking lot for almost an hour on a day when the outdoor temperature was 27 °F (−3 °C). Both parents were arrested after police had them paged to their car and charged with reckless endangerment. They claimed they had been inside only for 20 minutes and did not want to wake him, but the store's security camera video footage disproved them. After they agreed to take a parenting class, charges were dropped several years later.[6]


On Biryukova's 29th birthday, in early 2010, she was briefly committed to a mental hospital for the first of three times, after telling Solomon she had dreamed of killing the children. There, she was diagnosed with severe obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD); however psychiatrists did not believe that rendered her unfit to parent a child and she would later deny that she had been so diagnosed.[7] Shortly after she got out, her husband filed for divorce.[6]
Later Biryukova would be committed again. After the couple separated she texted her husband claiming to have suicidal ideations, which she later claimed she had done just to get his attention. Upon her admittance to the third hospital, she was found to have a Global Assessment of Functioning score of 15, suggesting she was a danger to herself and others; it had improved to 40, meaning slight impairment, by the time she was released.[7]
After that release, Solomon and his brother took Biryukova to University of Washington Medical Center where she checked in voluntarily. While she was there, their lender foreclosed on the condominium. Solomon moved with the children to his parents' home in Kirkland.[7]
The couple vigorously contested the divorce. Biryukova alleged in her filings that Solomon had been abusive and she feared for her life. He claimed those allegations were fabricated and said her mental problems made her unstable, incapable of keeping food in the house or letting her children sleep in beds due to her OCD. Child Protective Services (CPS) investigated a claim that Solomon had injured his daughter but supposedly ruled it unfounded; nevertheless Solomon was prohibited from seeing his children for a year while it was investigated. At different times in the case, both sought protection orders against each other.[6]
In September 2010, the court awarded Biryukova full custody of both children. However, she refused to let them see Solomon, who did not have any visitation rights. He continued to press the issue in court, along with some other issues such as property they both owned. She offered to forego alimony and child support if he let her move to Arizona with the children, but he refused.[7]
These disputes continued for over a year. In November 2011 the court hearing the case ordered the couple into a week of mediation to resolve their issues. The session was reportedly a success, with the two eventually agreeing that Biryukova would have custody of both children while Solomon had full visitation. However, on November 3, shortly after the agreement had been signed, Biryukova called her lawyer and, saying she had felt pressured into the session, decided to void it.[8]


Biryukova claims her son woke up sick in their Redmond apartment on the morning of November 6. She put him and his sister in the car she was driving at the time, a silver 1998 two-door Acura Integra,[6] and headed for Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue. Around the 2600 block of 112th Street N.E. in that city, a long undeveloped section of the road that follows a tall concrete noise barrier around the curve of the Washington State Route 520 expressway, just west of its interchange with Interstate 405, she said later that she ran out of gas.[8]
Biryukova parked the car on the side of the road and left Sky strapped into his car seat inside while she took Maile to find assistance. An hour later, she reached a Chevron station a mile (1.6 km) north of where she parked.[8] Instead of buying gas or having someone bring it to her car, she called a friend, who gave her a ride back to her car.[6]
When she returned, Sky was gone. She called police to report him missing. They in turn contacted Solomon before noon that day.[1]


Searchers combed a 20-block radius of the car but found nothing. Police soon came to doubt Biryukova's account. Her car, when tested, proved to have adequate fuel in its tank and operated normally.[8] In an hour wandering the neighborhood before she got to the gas station, she apparently made little effort to seek help from residents. Despite leaving home with a purportedly sick child, she had left her wallet, purse and phone behind.[2] There was no gas can in the car, either.
When questioned further about this, Biryukova took her Fifth Amendment rights and refused to take a lie detector test.[8] Biryukova did, however, give investigators permission to search the car, her computer and her home. There was no sign of Sky at or near the latter location. Her car was unlocked and did not show any signs of forced entry. Police searched Solomon's house, too, and found nothing. After a lie-detector test he took the night after the disappearance proved inconclusive, Solomon took another one the next day,[6] although neither he, his attorney, nor the police shared the results with the public.[9]
Police also soon learned about the 2009 incident where she and Solomon had been arrested after leaving Sky in the car unattended. During the investigation both of them admitted to having left the children by themselves for long periods of time. Detectives would not confirm whether, according to some reports, Biryukova had done so during the lengthy mediation hearing the week before Sky went missing.[7]
There were some questions about whether Sky had even been in the car that morning to begin with. Motorists who had passed the parked Acura did not report seeing anything unusual, not even a child in it. At Biryukova's apartment complex in Redmond, neighbors said she and her children rarely went out, and none of them had seen Sky for at least two weeks.[10] Solomon was not aware of anyone having seen his son other than his ex-wife since an April doctor visit.[8] However, Maile told the police that Sky had indeed been in the car that morning.[11]
The theory that Sky's disappearance might have been arranged by Biryukova drew more credence when police learned of strong coincidences between her story and a recently aired episode of the popular crime drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.[2][12] In the episode, titled "Missing Pieces", a woman going through a bitter divorce claims her baby son has been abducted when her parked car was stolen; it is later learned that she killed the boy and made up the abduction as a cover story.[13] The episode, first broadcast two weeks earlier, had been rerun the night before Sky vanished.[2]
"I know that there are several folks up in the operations center of the command post that have taken a look at that episode", Major Mike Johnson of the Bellevue police told reporters, "and have commented that it is strikingly similar in nature".[12] Through his attorney, Solomon told People that Law & Order was his wife's favorite show.[2]
Biryukova's presence on the Internet also aroused interest. On her Facebook page, she had posted many pictures of Maile but almost none of Sky.[1] During the previous months, she had also posted a profile to, a dating website for women seeking "sugar daddies", wealthy men willing to support a younger woman financially as part of a romantic relationship. She claimed to be seeking "financial stability", as well as $3,000–5,000 in cash per month.[14]
Investigators stated publicly that they did not believe Biryukova's story and suspected criminal activity had occurred. However they did not formally describe her as a suspect or person of interest, nor did they charge her with child endangerment despite the circumstances of the case and her past arrest, along with her then-husband, for leaving Sky in the car unsupervised.[1]
The decision not do so, they said later, was a "strategic decision", since to secure a conviction police and prosecutors would have to prove that they believe Biryukova did in fact leave her son alone in the vehicle for an unreasonable length of time. But if evidence later emerged suggesting Sky had been murdered or kidnapped that implicated his mother in some capacity, evidence that suggested he had never been in the car to begin with, arresting her on charges that she had indeed left him there could make a prosecution for the more serious charges impossible, a police spokesman said.[1] Later, Solomon's lawyer told the Seattle Weekly another reason for the inaction: If police did arrest Biryukova, she and her attorney would be able to review all the evidence the police had accumulated up to that point, which neither they nor Solomon wanted her to be able to do.[8]

Subsequent developments[edit]

Two weeks after Sky disappeared, Biryukova finally discussed the case with the media. ABC News obtained an email address that her relatives said was hers and used it to contact her. She reiterated that she had no idea where the boy was and called her ex-husband a "sadistic Muslim Pakistani" who was not telling the truth himself. About the case itself, she said her lawyer had instructed her not to discuss it with anyone; she ignored a specific question about whether she had indeed run out of gas that morning.[15]
The network was unable to confirm whether it was indeed Biryukova who had responded to them, as she was known to be staying with relatives at the time. However, Solomon told them it sounded to him like the way she would have talked. "Obviously she's just trying to maybe get me kind of riled up," he said. After reviewing the emails, ABC shared them with the Bellevue police, who could not comment on them but believed they might be of some value to their case.[15]
The state's Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) removed Maile from Biryukova's home in the wake of her brother's disappearance and placed her into foster care. Solomon was granted twice-weekly visitation while petitioning the court hearing the divorce to grant him custody, which it did after removing the remaining protection order.[16] The divorce was granted in January 2012.[17]
In 2015, on the case's fourth anniversary, Bellevue's new police chief Steve Mylett appealed publicly to Biryukova to talk to them again. "I am convinced you hold the key to finding Sky", he said in a local newspaper. While the previous year the department said it had exhausted all the leads that had been reported to it, at that time Mylett claimed Solomon had shared some unspecified new information with them that might prove useful. Images of Sky that had been digitally age progressed to show how he might appear at that time were distributed along with the original photos.[18]

Biryukova's remarriage and third child[edit]

Around the time of the fourth anniversary of the disappearance in 2015, it was reported that Biryukova had not only remarried the previous year but borne her third child by her new husband in July. DSHS workers were trying to have the infant removed from her care.[4]
DSHS was most concerned about Biryukova's mental health, given her OCD diagnosis and past hospitalizations, following a complaint from the person who delivered the child. They also found the father, Alan Morgan, a convicted felon, problematic. Authorities in Florida had taken a child from his home there. The month the two were married Biryukova reported him to the police in Redmond for allegedly assaulting her and got a no-contact order; she nevertheless visited him regularly in jail in Issaquah, where he was when she gave birth, under assumed names. Both claimed to investigators they did not live together despite giving them the same address; Biryukova said at one point she didn't even know who the father was even though his name was on the child's birth certificate.[4]


No trace of Sky was found in the surrounding neighborhoods, so it is believed he did not wander away on his own. In the absence of any new information or useful leads, and with Biryukova's account still considered doubtful, theories of Sky's disappearance have assumed his mother's connivance. If he is alive, it is believed that either she let someone else take him that day, or earlier, with Sky's presence in the car an invention. "She concocted that hospital story and when she realized no believed it, she hired an attorney", Leslie Clay Berry, Solomon's attorney told the Seattle Weekly in 2013.[8]
Solomon believes that his son is alive, just perhaps not in the U.S. In spring of 2011, after the visit to the doctor that was the last independent record of Sky's presence outside of Biryukova's household, he recalled that her estranged father came from Ukraine to visit her. He wondered to the Weekly if the older man could have taken the boy back to that country with him at the time. But he admitted that by 2013 he did not know how that could have happened.[8]
Terry, his attorney, believes more definitely that Sky was never in the car that morning. Nor would police have been expected to find any evidence in the apartment. "She's a clean freak, and she probably bleached everything out", she said to the newspaper, pointing to Biryukova's OCD.[8]
Unlike her client, she is doubtful about the outcome of the case. "I don't think he's alive", she said in 2013. "Solomon doesn't like when I say that, but that's what I think". While she believes Biryukova is responsible for his death, she allows that it could have been merely the result of negligence rather than a deliberate act of malice.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g Clarridge, Christine (November 7, 2014). "Sky Metalwala's disappearance still an active investigation after 3 years". Seattle Times. Retrieved October 28, 2016.
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f Lee, Ken (November 11, 2011). "Did a Mom Take Her Missing Child Story from Law & Order?". People. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
  3. Jump up^ Kindelan, Katie (November 14, 2011). "Sky's Father Says Disappearance Linked to Custody Dispute". ABC News. Retrieved October 28, 2016.
  4. ^ Jump up to:a b c Grande, Allison (November 9, 2015). "Mother of missing boy has another child, feared 'at risk'". KIRO-TV. Retrieved October 28, 2016.
  5. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f Phelps, Matt (November 23, 2011). "Investigators still haven't ruled out missing toddler's parents, who struggled with heated past". Bellevue Reporter. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
  6. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g Clarridge, Christine (November 8, 2011). "Police: Missing boy not seen for 2 weeks". Seattle Times. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
  7. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f Phelps, Matt (November 24, 2011). "Missing toddler's parents alleged abuse, neglect against each other". Kirkland Reporter. Retrieved October 30,2016.
  8. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k Conklin, Ellis E. (April 1, 2013). "The Strange and Unending Case of Sky Metalwala". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
  9. Jump up^ Clarridge, Christine (November 11, 2011). "Missing 2-year-old's dad grieves as hope dims". Seattle Times. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  10. Jump up^ Levy, Nat (November 10, 2011). "Police begin to question the story of missing boy's mother". Redmond Reporter. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  11. Jump up^ "Cops: Only mom, sis, had seen missing boy recently". NBC News. November 8, 2011. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  12. ^ Jump up to:a b "Police stymied by contradictions in Sky Metalwala's disappearance". Los Angeles Times. November 9, 2011. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  13. Jump up^ Martin, Julie (October 19, 2011). "Missing Pieces". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 13. Episode 5. NBC. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  14. Jump up^ Caulfield, Philip (November 15, 2011). "Mom of missing toddler Sky Metalwala sought 'sugar daddy' on dating website: report". New York Daily News. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  15. ^ Jump up to:a b Karlinsky, Neil (November 21, 2011). "Missing Toddler's Mom Speaks to ABC News on Email". ABC News. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  16. Jump up^ Phelps, Matt (December 5, 2011). "Kirkland resident Solomon Metalwala granted custody of daughter, son still missing". Kirkland Reporter. Retrieved October 31,2016.
  17. Jump up^ Phelps, Matt (November 11, 2014). "Metalwala keeps believing that his missing son, Sky, will be found". Kirkland Reporter. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  18. Jump up^ DeAngelis, Alison (November 6, 2015). "Police say they have new information in Metalwala case". Bellevue Reporter. Retrieved November 1, 2016.

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