Seventeen months later, and the mother still refuses to talk with authorities or cooperate with them in any way.
Seventeen months later, and Bellevue Police still decline requests for even a written statement on the status of their investigation.
Seventeen months later, and there seems to be nary a clue as to the whereabouts of Sky Metalawala.
The strange saga burst onto front pages throughout the region Nov. 6. 2011. That was the day, the two-year-old toddler’s Ukrainian-born mother, Julia Biryukova, told police she was driving with her two children to Overlake Medical Center that Sunday morning when the car, her brother’s two-door Acura, ran out of gas and stalled in the 2600 block of 112th Avenue Northeast in Bellevue.
Biryukova, 30 at the time, said she left Sky fast asleep in his car seat and, leaving the car unlocked, she and her little daughter, Maile, then four, walked about a mile to a gas station. When she returned, nearly an hour later, Sky had vanished, she said.
Investigators scoured a twenty-block area. They went door-to-door, but nothing. There were no signs of Sky.
Her story had holes in it a mile wide. For one thing, police say the car had plenty of gas and was in good working condition. No gas can was found in the car. Biryukova declined to take a polygraph test and invoked her 5th Amendment rights.
This was not the first time Sky Metalwala had been left alone in a car. As the Associated Press reported on Nov. 8, 2011, “When he was just 3 months old, court records revealed, his parents left him in their sport utility vehicle in a Target parking lot for 55 minutes on a 27-degree day. They only came out of the store to get him after police arrived and asked for the vehicle’s owner to be paged.”
Around the time of Sky’s disappearance, Biryukova and the boy’s father, Solomon Metalwala, of Kirkland -- who separated in March 2010 amid bitter back-and-forth protective orders and allegations of child abuse and psychiatric problems -- were engaged in a bruising custody battle.
“We had an arbitration hearing on November 2 over the divorce (four days before the disappearance) It lasted thirteen hours,” Metalwala’s attorney Leslie Clay Terry told Seattle Weekly last week. “She agreed to take custody of the two children and that Solomon would have visitation rights. Well, the next day, her attorney said like she felt she’d been talked into something she didn’t want, and she no longer wanted him to have visitation rights. She is a bitter, vile person.”
Or, as Terry bluntly told the Kirkland Reporter shortly after Sky’s disappearance, “We are talking about a life of a two-year-old child, whose mother is so vindictive and hateful, probably due to mental illness to some degree, that she is obsessed with the thought that she must prevent Solomon from (having) their children. She is not intelligent, and she definitely does not have what many would consider a creative side … I am not saying that to be mean, but we are in the trenches trying to come up with a way to circumvent Julia’s silence while her baby is missing.” ,
On Dec. 5, 2011, Solomon Metawala was granted custody of Maile, who was placed in foster care after her brother went missing.
Biryukova’s attorney, Rob Wyman, a public defender, did not return phone calls.
After seventeen anguished months, Terry, who is working pro-bono on the father’s behalf, has nothing but unkind words for Julia Biryukova. “She concocted that hospital story and when she realized no believed it, she hired an attorney. She has not helped us one bit,” fumed Terry.
Terry maintains that the child was long gone before the mother told her story. “She’s a clean freak, and she probably bleached everything out.”
Theories abound as to what may have happened to Sky. At one point, Metalwala, who says his son was last seen in April 2011, when there’s a record of him seeing a doctor. He’s also speculated in the past that Sky’s disappearance might be connected to a visit from his estranged wife’s foreign father who visited from Ukraine that spring. Perhaps, the grandfather brought him back to Ukraine.
“But now I don’t know how that could have happened,” Metalwala, who last saw his son in December 2010, told the Weekly.
Terry, when asked why the police have no compelled the Biryukova to come to the station and submit to an interview, had this to say, “They could bring her in, but if they did and charged her, say with child neglect, she could then have her attorney provide her with every single document and piece of evidence that police have been gathering over the past seventeen months. They don’t want to do that, and we don’t want them to do that -- to give her all that information.
“It is not worth it. We know she’s the culprit.”
Biryukova lives alone in an Redmond apartment and is doing very little. For a time, she ran an ad looking for a man of mean’s on the dating site seekingarrangement.com. The site bills itself as the “the elite sugar daddy dating site for those seeking mutally beneficial relationships.” The profile was created using Julia Biryukova’s name and says she’s a “happy, single, loving Christian and mommy of two beautiful babies.” More recently, on March 21, she took to Craigslist with an ad that read: “I am heartbrokenly single, hopelessly looking for a stable job. Help?” She took the ad down several days later.
As far Sky ever resurfacing, Terry is beyond pessimistic. “I don’t think he’s alive. Solomon doesn’t like when I say that, but that’s what I think,” the Bothell-based attorney said. “Again, I think the mother is the culprit. I don’t think it was intentional. It may have been negligence. We don’t know.
Said Metalwala: “Until I have solid proof [of his child’s demise] I am not giving up.”
In the interim, he added, “I am raising Maile to be a princess. I am trying to be the best dad possible.”
Bellevue police spokesman Carla Iafrate said three detectives -- two from Bellevue, one from Redmond -- are still working the case.
“This case is still ongoing. It is still open. It is still active,” she said. And, seventeen months later, “Leads are still trickling it.”