February 15th, 2012 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
The Solomon Metalwala case has moved no nearer to a conclusion, but, with this radio interview, we now know more about it than we previously have (KIRO, 2/9/12).
Metalwala of course is the Bellevue, Washington father whose little son Sky disappeared at some point and hasn’t been seen or heard from since. Prior to that, Metalwala and his wife Julia Biryukova were in the throes of a nasty divorce and custody battle. Biryukova spent time in a mental institution during which she was diagnosed as functioning at a level at which she was potentially a danger to herself or others.
Based partly on that assessment, Metalwala got temporary custody of his children, Maile, who was four at the time and Sky who was one. But, in time-honored fashion, Biryukova leveled accusations of domestic violence at Metalwala. Those were sufficient to get sole custody for her during the pendency of the divorce proceedings, and a no contact order against him.
Of course there was essentially no evidence against Metalwala, but Commissioner Jacqueline Jeske issued the orders keeping father and children apart anyway. That proved to be a mistake that may have been fatal to Sky and has certainly been harmful to Maile.
Nine months after the orders were issued, Biryukova claimed that the boy was abducted from her car that she’d parked and locked by the roadside. She said she’d run out of gas and had to walk to a station to get more. But there’s absolutely no evidence that what Biryukova claimed was true. She didn’t buy gas, the car had no mechanical malfunctions and there was no sign of a break-in.
The simple fact is that Julia Biryukova either killed the little boy or she arranged with someone to take him to parts unknown. Her native Russia might be one place to look, given that she has relatives there.
That’s the background, but the linked-to interview with Clay Terry, Metalwala’s attorney, adds more. We now know that, during the year in which the children were in Biryukova’s exclusive “care,” they never went to a doctor and Maile was severely malnourished. Biryukova also left the children at home alone for as long as 12 hours at a time. That meant a 4-5 year-old was “caring” for a 1-2 year-old.
Remember, that’s the woman that Jacqueline Jeske believed when she said, for the first time during the custody case that Metalwala was an abuser. She’s the one to whom Jeske gave sole custody despite her history of mental instability.
When Maile finally was wrested from Biryukova, in November of 2011, she weighed about 30 pounds. She was five years old. Into the bargain, she’d never had her childhood inoculations, in violation of Washington law.
The way we know the children hadn’t been to a doctor while with Biryukova is that Clay Terry sent out 360 letters to every health care provider in six cities near Bellvue asking if they’d ever treated the kids. None had done so. The children’s regular physician hadn’t seen the children during that year.
That’s interesting not only for what it says about Biryukova’s parenting practices, but for what it says about her story that Sky was abducted. She claimed at the time that she had been taking the children to Overlake Hospital, but Overlake Hospital has no record of any appointment with – or call from – Biryukova.
As I’ve reported before, since Sky’s disappearance, Julia Biryukova has done nothing to help find him. While Metalwala has been bending heaven and earth in an attempt to find some clue to his son’s whereabouts, Biryukova has stonewalled. That alone is proof positive that Sky wasn’t abducted. If he had been, surely his mother would do everything in her power to help locate him. But she’s done nothing.
That means there’s one and only one person who may know what happened to Sky, and who may talk - Maile. So far the girl hasn’t said much, but Clay Terry hopes that, as she grows older and her ability to articulate improves, she’ll start to tell what she knows. At this point, she’s the only hope to locate Sky.
To that end, Terry has asked for and received a temporary order that completely prohibits contact between Maile and Biryukova. That’s because neither Terry nor Metalwala nor the Bellevue police want Biryukova to be able to tell the child “don’t tell anyone what Mommy did or Mommy will get in trouble.”
Sensibly, the court has agreed.
As to Metalwala, Terry reports that the man is having “a real tough time” keeping his spirits up. At first, Metalwala was optimistic about the chances of finding his son alive. According to Terry, he’s now coming to grips with the idea that he may never see Sky again. Understandably, that’s been a heavy blow to him.
But still he soldiers on. This Saturday, he and Terry will host a balloon release in a local park at which Metalwala intends to thank the media, the police and all his many supporters for their help in finding out what happened to his little son.
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