Police: Wash. mother's car had gas in test drive

AP News
Posted: Nov 11, 2011 8:25 PM
Police: Wash. mother's car had gas in test drive

The car a woman says ran out of gas _ leading to the disappearance Sunday of her 2-year-old son _ ran just fine Friday when police took it for a test drive. No gas was added before the test and no mechanical problem was found, police said.

And late Friday a police spokesman said there's a "real possibility" that Sky Metalwala is no longer alive as the search for the toddler stretches into its sixth day.

More suspicion is falling on his mother, Julia Biryukova, to explain about the car and other discrepancies in her story.

Since reporting her son missing she has been speaking to police through a lawyer and has not responded to requests to speak to investigators voluntarily, Bellevue police Maj. Mike Johnson said.

There's not enough evidence to name Biryukova as a suspect, Johnson said at a news conference. "At this point, we don't have it."

"What we've tried to do is present the facts as we see them, and if that cast suspicion on Julia, it's the facts speaking, not us," Johnson said.

At what point does she become a suspect? he was asked.

"I don't have the answer," he said.

Could she face charges such as making a false report?

"It's something we'll look at once the dust settles on the missing person portion of the investigation," Johnson said.

The disappearance of the boy remains a gnawing problem for more than 150 local and state police and FBI agents. Police say the mother's story is full of holes. She says she was taking Sky to a hospital when the car stopped, so she left him alone in the unlocked car and took his 4-year-old sister to go for gas. When she returned an hour later, she says, he was gone.

Asked at a Friday afternoon news conference whether Sky could be dead, Johnson said that's a "real possibility."

Police have ruled nothing out _ maybe he was abducted or maybe he's lost, Johnson said. But as the days add up, with no sign of the little boy, the chances that he will be found safe are diminishing.

"Unfortunately, the reality of this is that Sky may have fallen onto some very unfortunate circumstances," Johnson said.

Police continue to receive tips from the public _ people who think they saw Sky, mothers who want to help, even psychics. Everything is being checked out of hope that the boy will be found alive.

Sky's parents had reached a tentative agreement for visitation after a 12-hour mediation session last week. But Biryukova backed out of the agreement on Friday, two days before she reported Sky missing.

The boy's father, Solomon Metalwala, says Biryukova suffers from severe obsessive-compulsive disorder and goes on cleaning binges in which she wouldn't feed the children. But a doctor said her diagnosis didn't interfere with her ability to care for the kids.

The 4-year-old daughter was taken into the care of state Child Protective Services after her brother was reported missing.

The family has a previous record of leaving Sky alone in a car in a store parking lot in Redmond when he was 3-months old. Court records show he was alone for nearly an hour on a 27-degree day in December 2009 before police had the car owner's paged.

Police cited both parents for reckless endangerment. The case was dismissed early this year after the couple completed a year's probation, community service and a 10-week parenting class.