007 - The Suspicious Disappearance of Sky Metalwala
Sky Elijah Metalwala was two years old when he went missing on November 6th, 2011. Sky was the second child of Julia Biryukova and Solomon Metalwala. Both were immigrants to the united states, with Julia originating from Russia and Solomon from Pakistan. Julia immigrated in 1994, when she was 12 years old, and three years later, when she was just fifteen, she met and began a relationship with then 21 year old Solomon. Julia worked at a restaurant owned by Solomon’s parents for a time, and following her completion of high school, and her naturalization to a United States citizen, she and Solomon moved in together. They lived in a small condo in Bellevue, Washington.
Reportedly, the relationship between Julia and Solomon was a tempestuous one. Julia would claim that Solomon was extremely controlling and she has become emotionally dependent on him. However, despite these issues and problems, Julia married Solomon in 2003. The wedding was held in Solomon’s parent’s kitchen and was not a large extravaganza. Julia would later claim that her marriage to Solomon came from pressure placed on her by her in-laws, stating that Solomon was facing deportation and the marriage would enable him to maintain citizenship in the United States.
By all accounts, marriage did not improve the problems in their relationship and in actuality, made them worse. Contributing to the problems between the couple, were issues which Julia had with her in-laws. In 2005, Solomon converted to Christianity, which Julia claims his parents blamed her for, and added to the strife between them. In addition, business problems for the family began to put a financial strain on their already tenuous situation. In 2007, Julia gave birth to their first child, a daughter named Maile but whatever joy there was in this event was short lived for the couple.
The recession of 2008 made things more financially challenging, yet Julia and Solomon still purchased a home in Kirkland, Washington for $800,000. In addition to this purchase, the two were also making mortgage payments on their condo in Bellevue. Regardless of their growing turmoil, and the addition of financial challenges and a sinking economy, Julia gave birth to Sky Elijah Metalwala in 2009. It was during her pregnancy with Sky that things began coming to a head for the couple.
Financial difficulties led to a foreclosure of their new Kirkland home, and other bills were piling up and going unpaid. Solomon and Julia was forced to move back into their condo in Bellevue. Julia was put on antidepressants during her pregnancy, although she would later claim she didn’t need them. It was at this time there was a shift in Julia’s personality, with Solomon later saying that she became obsessed with cleanliness, and that she was constantly cleaning the condo. Solomon has said he would sleep on the floor and eat outside in order to comply with her obsessive need to keep the home clean. The couple were cited multiple times for noise violations in the condo, with neighbors complaining that they could hear vacuuming taking place at odd times of the night. Julia would claim that Solomon was becoming more controlling, while Solomon would claim that Julia was losing her mental stability.
When Sky was just two months old, his parents were arrested and charged with reckless endangerment. According to their arrest, Solomon and Julia had gone shopping at a local area Target store in Redmond, Washington.. It was during the winter months, and the temperature outside was only 27 degrees farenheit, five degrees below freezing. In this incredibly cold weather, Julia and Solomon left Sky in the car while they shopped in the store. Upon exiting, they were met with Police. Julia and Solomon would claim they had only been in the store for a few minutes, however security camera footage would contradict their story showing that the two had in fact been inside the store for 55 minutes. After several years of legal wrangling, all charges were dropped after the couple agreed to take parenting classes, do community service and serve a year on probation.
You see things like this a lot in cases where something worse is bound to happen. It’s not for me to say that parenting classes and anger management doesn’t help, because for many people it truly does. But imagine if there had been some kind of additional monitoring going on beyond these classes? I might not be recording this episode right now, but unfortunately, I am. They were on probation, and I’dhave to believe that Child Protective Services had some involvement since we are dealing with a case of neglect, but I have been unable to find any record of CPS getting involved at this particular point.
In early 2010, Julia’s psychological problems began to grow out of control and intervention was required. On her 29th birthday, Julia was commited to a psychiatric facility. Reportedly, her entrance into the facility was spurned on by claims from Solomon, who stated that Julia had, on multiple occasions, told him that she had been dreaming of murdering their two children. According to Solomon, Julia is alleged to have said that she thought about strangling their son, Sky. However, Julia’s doctors did not feel that she suffered from any issues which would deem her unfit to parent, and diagnosed her with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Julia’s stay was short lived, and interestingly enough, Julia would later deny that she had been diagnosed with any issues during her time in the facility.
Julia’s psychiatrist while in the facility, Dr. Stephen Sholl, has publicly stated “Although Ms. Biryukova is dealing with a severe form of OCD, I do not believe that this interferes with her ability to be a compassionate, effective parent to her children. However, in court records, Julia has stated “I do not suffer from severe OCD and I never have.”
Shortly after her release, Solomon filed for divorce. Their divorce would be full of vicious attacks against one another verbally and a slew of accusations on both sides. Julia would be committed for the second time not soon after the divorce paperwork was filed. Solomon claimed Julia had texted him threatening suicide, though Julia would later claim that these were not threats and simply a means of getting attention and pity from him.
According to documents of public record, Julia had texted Solomon stating “Please please I’m begging with my whole heart help me finda peaceful way to die. I cannot live another day and cause you, Maile and Sky anymore suffering. I’m dead inside anyway and have been dead for a long time. You will not miss me at all and Maile and Sky have the best daddy in the world so I know they will be ok.” Solomon contacted the police, since Julia was home alone with their child at the time. Police would later report that Julia did admit to them that she was, in fact, suicidal at that time.
Julia was, for the second time, involuntarily commited. She was first brought to Overlake Hospital, and then Navos in western Seattle. During her intake into the facility, she was rated on the Global Assessment of Functioning. This is a numbered scale used by mental health physicians to rate the social, occupational and psychological functioning of an individual. The patient is scored from 1 to 100, with a rating of 1 being severely impaired and a rating of 100 being extremely high functioning.
The Global Assessment of Functioning, or GAF, has since been replaced, in a sense. The GAF was included in the DSM 4. The DSM is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It includes all currently known and diagnosable mental disorders, symptoms and treatment options. The first volume was released in 1951, and the fifth came out in 2013. Over time, new disorders are added, some disorders are removed, merged or retitled. As knowledge is gained and studies are done, the manual is updated to keep up with the current state of Psychological disorders. When the DSM 5 was released, the GAF was replaced with the WHO Disability Assessment Schedule. This new method is supposed to be more accurate and detailed, whereas they had found with the GAF that there may have been a bias on the scaling. It was extremely rare to rate anyone over 90 since, if they were seeking help with psychological problems, it was unlikely they were going to score so highly.
When Julia entered the facility, she was scored a 15, which would rate her as being somewhat of a danger to herself or others. People rated in this range fall into the category of suicide attempts, frequently violent, manic. When she was discharged, Julia was rated a 40 on the scale. A 40 rating means she suffered from “some impairment in reality testing or communication.” This is expanded, being defined as illogical statements, depression, family neglect, unable to work. Upon being discharged, Julia voluntarily admitted herself to the University of Washington Medical Center.
With the divorce moving forward, Julia would make a large amount of accusations against Solomon, claiming controlling behavior, violent tendencies and physical abuse. In court documents related to the divorce proceedings, Julia stated “Now, my fear is for my small children. And now Solomon is doing the same thing to our small children that he did to me, physically abuse them and try to control them.” Sue Jewett, a pastor at City Church, would corroborate these statements, saying that she was present when Maile informed she and Julia that Solomon had hit Sky when he was crying to try to get him to stop. Sue Jewett would record a future conversation with Maile, where the child said that Julia, Sky and herself had been hit by Solomon when they were bad.
Solomon would respond, saying that Julia was in fact the abusive parent. Child Protective Services would ultimately get involved, investigating but found that any claims of neglect or abuse against Julia were unfounded. Julia would fire back, seeking a protective order against Solomon and accusing him of sexually assaulting their daughter. Child Protective Services would again investigate, and find the claims against Solomon were unfounded. However, during investigation, Solomon submitted to a polygraph test where he was asked about hitting the children with a wooden spoon. Though he passed the part of the test in relation to the spoon, his results were inconclusive in relation to whether or not he had caused bruises on the children.
Finally, in September of 2010, Julia successfully obtained full legal custody of both children. Several friends and neighbors came forward, giving their support to Solomon and stating publicly to reporters that he was an extremely kind man and was not abusive to his children, nor to Julia. In October of 2010, an eleven hour mediation session was held between Julia and Solomon to discuss the custody of the children. During the session both sides managed to come to terms regarding some visitation rights for Solomon. However, it is reported that just hours after the session, Julia called Solomon in an attempt to back out of giving him any visitation.
Obviously, the divorce was an extremely brutal and bitter one, as they often can be. There was a war between Julia and Solomon, and a lot of issues at hand. While Julia had developed a history of psychological issues, Solomon was now depicted as an abusive man who was a threat to their children. It’s hard to know where exactly the truth lies, but in cases such as these, I usually find that the reality of what happened is usually somewhere right in the middle. Regardless of their problems and mediation, things would take a very strange and sad turn.
On the morning of November 6th, 2010, just two weeks after the mediation, Julia claims that Sky awoke in the morning and was feeling ill. She left her Redmond, Washington apartment with her children in her 1998, silver two-door Acura Integra, heading for the Overlake Medical Center, in Bellevue. According to Julia, around the 2600 block of 112th Street, she ran out of gas. This is described as a long, undeveloped stretch of road behind a tall concrete noise barrier, just west of the Interstate 405 junction. According to Julia, she pulled the car to the side of the road, secured Sky in his car seat and took Maile to find help. A full hour later, both Julia and Maile arrived at a Chevron station, one mile from where she’d parked the car. According to Police investigation, Julia does not purchase gas, nor does she ask for a ride or call any authorities. Julia is reported to have walked around a wealthy neighborhood for much of the time she was gone, and upon arriving at the gas station, she places a call to a friend, requesting a ride back to her car. Upon arriving back at the car, Julia discovers that Sky is missing and contacts police. This would begin a very convoluted and complicated investigation into the disappearance.
Police immediately began searching for Sky, searching a 20 block radius from the location of the vehicle. Nothing was found during their search of the area. Almost immediately, investigators took issue with Julia’s story and found inconsistencies in it. According to a forensic examination of the vehicle, her car was found to have had adequate gas in its tank and the car started and functioned normally. In their examination, the vehicle was found to have 2.2 gallons of gasoline in the tank, more than enough to drive the one additional mile to the gas station. In addition to this inconsistency with the car, Police took issue with the fact that Julia had reportedly planned to take her sick child to the hospital, but had not brought her purse, wallet or phone with her. Also, her vehicle was found to not be locked and showed no signs of forced entry.
Julia authorizes the police search her home, and her computer, but that about ends her cooperation with their investigation. During questioning, Julia pleads the 5th. In accordance with American law, the fifth amendment gives a person the right to not answer questions that may lead to answers that could lead the interviewee to incriminate him or herself. In addition to pleading the 5th, Julia refuses to take a lie detector test. Solomon is contacted around 12 noon, informed that Sky is missing. The following night, he take a polygraph test and the results are inconclusive. The next day, he takes another, but the results of this test have never been publicly released. During their investigation, police find the former arrest for leaving the child in the car when they were in Target. Both parents then admit to leaving the children alone for periods of time over the years.
As detectives dig deeper into the story, they begin to develop more questions. Based on Julia’s behavior, her psychological history, and her refusal to fully help the investigation, she comes under much more scrutiny. Police begin to question whether or not Sky had even been in the car that morning. Several drivers who had passed by the car were questioned and none had seen a child inside when they passed. None had noticed anything out of the ordinary with the vehicle. Julia’s neighbors at her apartment complex are questioned, and state that they had not seen Sky around for at least two weeks, but that it wasn’t too uncommon as Julia and the children rarely left their apartment. Due to the custody agreement, Solomon had not seen his son since April. Maile, now 5 years old, however, told investigators that Sky was in fact in the vehicle with them that morning.
Investigators looked at Julia’s internet activity. They found it strange that on her Facebook page she had posted a great many photos of Maile, but almost none of Sky. They found frequent visits to a dating website for women seeking older, wealthy men and that Julia was seeking out financial stability and $3000 – $5000 a month in cash. Police publicly come out and state that they do not believe Julia’s story, and they in fact think she knows much more than she has been telling them. Bellevue police chief Mylett makes a statement to the media, saying “Her story is inconsistent with the evidence that we have. Her statements to police at the time that she reported Sky missing were not supported by the evidence and the facts as we know them.” When asked whether or not he believed that Julia was directly lying to investigators, Chief Mylett said “You know what? I’m going to go there. Yeah, I do think she was not telling the truth to our investigators. Whatever the motivation was at the time, we need to go back and find out what exactly happened.”
Two weeks would go by before Julia would speak publicly about the disappearance of her son, Sky. In an email to ABC news, Julia said that she had no idea where her son was, and referred to Solomon as a “sadistic Muslim Pakastani” who was lying about Sky’s disappearance. Julia said her lawyer had intstructed her not to discuss the case with anyone and she refused to answer any questions about whether or not she had run out of gas that day. ABC News turned the emails over to Bellevue police, who took them into their investigation. To this day, Julia has never come forward with further information nor had more to say to police in regard to the disappearance of her son. In the case of missing children, the parents are typically distraught, but highly motivated to do whatever they can with police to get out as much information as they can in as quick a period of time. In most cases, parents become frustrated with the questions police ask, not because they don’t want to answer them, but because they want the police out searching for their child, not asking them a bunch of questions. In Julia’s case, she neither wanted to answer their questions, nor volunteer any extra information. According to my research, I cannot find a single instance of Julia calling the Bellevue Police Department to ask if they had found any new information, or even to check on the status of the case.
People began making a strange connection at this point. Although it is purely speculative, some believe its possible that a television show was the inspiration for the disappearance of Sky Metalwala. The popular crime show, Law and Order SVU aired an episode titled “Missing Pieces.” In the episode, during a vicious custody battle, a woman calls the police and tells them that her son had been abducted when she left him in the car, and the car was stolen. It is later discovered that the woman in fact murdered her son. Fascinatingly, this episode aired in a rerun the night before Sky Metalwala was reported missing. Solomon claims that Law and Order is Julia’s favorite show.
Following the disappearance, Maile was taken into custody by Child Protective Services and placed in a foster home. Julia was granted supervised visits. During this time in the foster home, Solomon was also granted twice weekly visitation with his daughter. Six weeks later, Julia would regain custody of Maile. One year after Sky’s disappearance, Julia and Solomon’s divorce was finalized and Solomon was granted full custody of both children.
In relation to the case, Bellevue Police Major Mike Johnson held a press conference in which he stated “We suspect foul play, nothing about the story adds up.” He also said “We want to believe Julia, we want to help her find her missing child but her story is falling apart day to day and her lack of cooperation so far in regard to providing more information proactively and submitting to a polygraph doesn’t help.” Police Chief Mylett wrote a statement, pleading “Ms. Biryukova, please contact the Bellevue Police Department to allow us the opportunity to help find your son. We are more than willing to work with you and your attorney to identify a convenient time and location to discuss Sky’s disappearance. I am convinced you hold the key to finding Sky. The employees of the Bellevue Police Department will not stop searching for Sky, but I cannot emphasize enough the role you play in successfully locating your little boy.”
In 2015, Julia gave birth to a son, Elijah James Morgan. Julia had begun dating, and then married, Alan J Morgan, a convicted felon with a lengthy criminal record. According to police, they had been called in for issues of domestic disturbances between the two. Julia took out a protective order against Morgan, and he was arrested for violating it. During his time in jail, he continued to violate the order, calling Julia 12 times from prison. Yet, Julia visited Morgan during his time in jail and phone records show she called the jail over 70 times. Morgan was in prison when his son was born, and it is reported that when Julia visited, she used a false name. The relationship between Julia and Morgan is a highly strange one. According to court records, Julia and Morgan married in December of 2014, the same month she has a no contact order placed against him. When interviewed by investigators, the couple claimed they did not live together, but gave the same address as their home. Julia would later start using a PO Box as her address, and would claim that she had no idea who was the father of her son, despire Morgan being listed on the birth certificate as the father, and both Elijah and Morgan sharing the same middle name of James.
Following his release from prison, Morgan had a warrant issued for failing to fulfill his required time in rehab. At this point in time, Child Protective Services began investigating with Julia’s newborn son was in fact safe in her custody. Reportedly, the medical staff involved in delivering the child were concerned with Julia’s mental state. Julia refused to submit to a psychiatric evaluation. Child Protective Services began making legal moves to have Julia declared as an unfit mother and to gain custody of Elijah.
In the nearly six years since Sky disappeared, no information has come to light despite police receiving 2500 tips, and dedicating 14,000 man hours to the case, with the assistance of the FBI. In total, they have spent more than $2 million searching for Sky. While Solomon has cooperated as much as he can with investigators, Julia has remained distant and unhelpful. A lot of theories have risen around the case, speculating that Julia may have sent Sky to family in Russia, or that Solomon may have kidapped his son and sent him to relatives in Pakistan. Many people believe that whatever happened to Sky, only one person knows for sure, and that person is Julia Biryukova. In the years since Sky’s disappearance, Julia has popped back into the media from time to time, most recently for the custody battle between herself and Child Protective Services.
Solomon believes that Julia knows exactly where Sky is, and furthermore, thinks it’s possible that she sent the boy to Ukraine. The last time Solomon saw his son was at a doctor’s visit in April of 2011. According to Solomon, Julia’s father came to visit from Ukraine shortly thereafter. However, Solomon does say he isn’t sure how this is possible without there being some kind of a record of Sky traveling, or some other evidence which could be found. Solomon’s lawyer has publicly stated that Julia was mentally unfit, and likely played a role in the disappearance of her son. She has gone on to state that, unlike her optimistic client, she does not believe Sky is still alive, and furthermore, does not believe he was ever in the car that morning. She firmly believes that Julia is responsible for Sky’s death and disappearance, although she cannot say whether it was a direct act of malice, or the result of negligence.
In statements made to the media, Solomon has condemned Julia and accused her of being involved in his son’s disappearance. In an interview, Solomon stated “I do believe that Julia has a – she’s responsible. It’s sad because if she can just cooperate we can find where, where is our son.”
It’s a strange, tragic case. A two year old, allegedly left behind in a car, vanishes inside of an hour. But was it an hour? No one other than his mother, whom many consider to be the prime suspect, and his then five year old sister, reported seeing him anytime during the two weeks prior to his disappearance. For the two weeks surrounding Sky’s last reported moments, there is no evidence that he was anywhere to be found. All we have are the words of Julia Biryukova, and there are not many of those to read, and what is there, is hard to believe. A two year vanished, and Sky would now be seven years old, turning 8 this October. At the time of his disappearance, Sky was At the time of his disappearance, Sky was 29 pounds and stood two foot ten inches tall. He has brown hair and brown eyes. Police have release aged progressed photographs of Sky to show what he might look like today.
Julia Biryukova does not display any of the traits you would expect of a mother struggling with the loss of her child. She maintains a position of no compliance, not assisting in the investigation, not answering questions. As the old cliché says, that’s her story and she’s sticking to it. Police have spent their time poking holes in her story, and finding themselves even more frustrated and confused. They simply don’t believe what she has told them, and after examining her statements and comparing it to their evidence, it’s hard to blame them. Solomon has worked with them, made pleas through the media and committed himself to find the answer to what happened to his son. Julia continues to live her life as though the incident never happened. It may sound as though I am being hard on Julia, but it’s incredibly difficult to accept her version of the story, coupled with her behavior following the disappearance of her son.
What happened to Sky Metalwala? Does Julia hold the answers, or does some yet unknown figure play a bigger hand in this case? It’s every parents nightmare, but in this case, the one parent who may be able to help, has chosen to remain silent. That silence has become defeaning in the last six years.
[Thoughts & Theories]
I know some people are going to wonder why I selected this case. It somewhat breaks my usual template of targeting cases that have gotten less attention. However, some cases stick with you and this one has always stuck with me. The entire situation is so overwhelmingly frustrating and disturbing. There aren’t many types of people I put lower on the scale than those who would harm a child. Slightly lower than them are parents who bring harm to their own children. Is that what happened in this case? Unlike many of the cases I cover, this case isn’t necessarily bogged down in a lack of evidence, or a lack of theories. This case is frozen in place because the one person who it seems most likely has the answer, refuses to talk about it. Julia Biryukova told police her side of the story, never strayed from it, and never had anything extra to add.
There are several theories about what could have happened to Sky Metalwala. It seems most logical to begin with the original story, and to track back through the details. The first theory about the disappearance of Sky is that Sky was abducted from his mother’s car while she walked to the gas station a mile away. A stranger abduction in the case of children isn’t exactly unheard of, and sadly it happens more than we would like to admit. Assuming that Julia strapped Sky tightly into his car seat, and then began walking away, there are a myriad of scenarios that could have followed involving a stranger.
In the case of this theory, we don’t have a motive for the abductor other than he or she found a child in a vehicle, left behind, and made the decision to take him. So, primarily, there are two possible reasons I could see this happening. Firstly, if you came across a child who was strapped into his car seat, and was left in an unlocked car, down a bad street, you might be concerned. Imagine looking in the window and seeing him sitting there, and calling out for a parent. Ten or fifteen minutes go by, and no one comes back. It’s entirely possible that someone saw this situation and thought that the child was being mistreated, or possibly abandoned, and decided to take him. Some people have theorized that this is exactly what happened. A perfect stranger, taking a child from a bad situation. However, there are a lot of flaws in this theory.
Someone who has the moral compass to want to pull a child out of a bad situation such as this would likely feel some compulsion to contact the authorities. I think it’s fairly unlikely that someone would just grab the child and walk off, especially if the driving force behind it was the safety of the child. It happens, parents leave their children in locked vehicles, in dangerous situations or inclement weather and don’t think twice about it. In almost all of these situations, passersby call the police and notify them of the situation. They might stay at the scene, and watch the child for reasons of safety and concern, but they don’t simply reach inside and grab them. In an extreme situation, maybe you could imagine someone breaking open the window, or pulling open the door and removing the child, but it’s still difficult to imagine the person just walking off at that point.
Although I could imagine a good sumaritan wanting to help, I just can’t believe that they wouldn’t go to the police. Especially when you consider the media coverage that followed the disappearance, this person would have seen the story, seen the parents, and at a minimum would have felt compelled to contact the police and tell them what happened. This doesn’t happen in Sky’s case, and although all theories must be considered, I do think that a good sumaritan stranger abduction is the least likely and has the smallest amount of evidence to support it. So, in terms of a stranger abduction, the other possibility would be a malicious abduction.
The reasons for which children are kidnapped are many. Some people out there just want a child, some people want to harm a child. Sadly, there is a market for the sale of a young child, be it into sex slavery, or for some other twisted means. Also, there are groups of people seeking children who cannot get them legally, and employ someone to retrieve a child for them. The thing about all of these situations is they don’t usually appear to be completely random. In many cases, the abductor notices the child and begins watching. The abductor might stalk the child and his family, get down a schedule and a pattern of behavior and choose the perfect time to strike. On the other hand, we have all seen videos, especially in recent years, of abductors who try to grab children right out from under their parents noses in stores, laundromats and playgrounds. Who knows their intentions, but we also have to consider sex offenders and pedophiles who may want to steal a child.
Again, though, in the case of a stranger abduction, even with malicious intent, it seems like a perfect storm in this situation. What are the chances that Julia would park her car in that alley, for an hour, and during that period of time someone would pass by looking to kidnap a child? A lot of things in life happen like this, and sometimes the situation seems completely illogical, and truth can be stranger than fiction, but that’s a large limb to go out on in this case. In a lot of cases, it would be considered a very strong possibility, but because of what we know about this situation, particularly in regard to Sky’s mother, I find it very difficult to imagine that Sky’s disappearance was the result of a stranger abduction.
The Police conducted their investigation. They canvassed the area, went through the car forensically, and they could not find anything that would point them in the direction of a stranger abduction. There were no hairs and fibers, no fingerprints, no anything to lead them to believe that this was the case of a stolen child. The police themselves have come out in the years since Sky’s disappearance and specifically stated that they believe foul play was involved. They have pleaded in the media for help from the public, and they have plead for help from Sky’s mother, but their requests have gone unanswered.
Yes, it is entirely possible that this is the case of a stranger abduction. It just doesn’t seem likely. It’s an investigative mistake to put too much weight into a gut instinct, but it’s also a complete mistake to ignore it totally either. Based on behavior patterns, the very, very flawed story of what supposedly happened and simple logic, I believe there is another explanation here, and not one that involves a stranger. Well, not a complete stranger. There is a theory which could involve someone who was a stranger to the child, and that theory carries a little more credibility.
Some have theorized that Sky wasn’t kidnap, but instead, given away. Solomon, on more than one occasion, has accused Julia of knowing what happened to Sky. He has pointed out that Julia’s father visited from the Ukraine shortly after the last time Solomon himself saw his child. Julia and Solomon were in the midst of an incredibly bitter and vicious divorce at the time Sky disappeared. Sky’s disappearance also happened to occur right during a period when it seemed like Solomon, who had previously been stripped of his parental rights, might be getting them back. He and Julia were involved in an 11 hour mediation, during which there was some give and take, and it seemed that Solomon, at a minimum, was going to get visitation with his children, supervised or not.
It’s been reported that following this mediation, Julia tried to take it back and change what had been discussed. So, the theory would say that Julia, now worried that Solomon was going to get visitation back, would make the chose to deprive Solomon of the ability to see his son. Whether this would be done out of sheer malice, or because Julia had accused Solomon of abuse, and wanted to protect her son, is complete conjecture. What we do know, is that their daughter, Maile, did not disappear, and if Julia were truly concerned about the safety of one child, then why not the other? Perhaps it has to do with Sky being the only son born to Solomon, and some desire to take that away from him. Could Julia have managed to sneak her son out of the country, with her own father?
That’s tough to say, but this took place in a post 9-11 world of much stronger airport security with much tighter requirements. Could a man travel from the Ukraine to the United States by himself, and then return with a child who we’d have to believe was being transported under an assumed name, since it never popped up during the investigation and if a child named Sky had been flown to the Ukraine weeks or months earlier, that would havebeen a red flag for investigators.
Others believe that Julia didn’t send Sky home with her father, but instead either gave him to a friend, or asked a friend to take him for a period of time. Again, completely possible, but I’d imagine that once the media got involved, and the case blew up, that friend would be feeling a lot of pressure to come forward, and no one ever has. It’s one thing to be a good friend, but to be a friend to the point that you’re willing to risk being caught by police is a pretty big thing to ask. Not to mention, people aren’t always the best at keeping their mouths shut. Usually, in a big case like this, the more people involved, the more likely someone is to talk. Who would agree to this in the first place?
Neighbors reported that Julia and the children rarely left their apartment, and that in the two weeks prior to Sky’s disappearance, they hadn’t seen the boy. Considering Julia’s apparent homebody lifestyle, it has to be hard to maintain friends, especially ones close enough to be willing to take a child for you. Neighbors did not report frequent visitors, or any particular visitors to the apartment. Although it’s entirely possible that Julia could have met someone through one of the dating sites she was on and either gave this person a child, or more likely based on her financial desires, chose to sell Sky to someone. It’s a truly disturbing thought to have, but unfortunately, we live in a world where this kind of thing happens and we already know that Julia has some problems with her mental stability.
Turning the spotlight the other direction, considering the loss of visitation rights, and the bitterness of the divorce, is it possible that Solomon made the choice to either kidnap Sky himself, or to hire someone to do it for him? Absolutely. Solomon was clearly very upset about the way the court had ruled in favor of Julia when it came to the custody of the children. It is somewhat common for one parent to take a child, but typically in those situations, the parent goes with the child. They don’t usually ship the child off somewhere, but much like Julia has ties to Russia and the Ukraine, Solomon had ties back to Pakistan. Some theories follow the line that Solomon, angry about everything to do with the divorce, made arrangements to have Sky kidnpped, and once in possession of him, would send the child back home to Pakistan. Again, we have the same problem as we have in relation to the similar theory about Julia: How would this be accomplished without there being some kind of paper trail for investigator’s to follow?
Obviously there are ways to get people in and out of the country without anyone being able to track it, but Solomon didn’t exactly run in a circle of people with ties to the underworld. I’m sure documents can be convincingly falsified, and perhaps even done so in such a way as to not draw any attention, but how would Solomon have gotten Sky? Even if he had hired someone to follow Julia, this person would not have known that she was going to pull over that day and leave him behind. Yes, this person could have stumbled upon the situation in a stroke of dumb luck, but once you begin tacking all of these extremely unlikely coincidences together, the logic just falls right out of the theory. Although I think Solomon was desperate to be with his children, I do not think he was willing to go this far. Even if he did, he wouldn’t be with his son. Solomon still lives in the United States and has not gone back to Pakistan, so it makes more sense that he would continue pursuing a legal solution. The mediation had gone well for him, and things seemed to be shifting in his favor, so why would he rock the boat?
I find it hard to put a lot of stock into this theory, and although it’s possible, again, it just doesn’t make the right connections. Evidence doesn’t seem to support it. It has to be considered that Solomon volunteered and took two polygraph tests for the Police. According to the police, the results of the first, which Solomon took the night after Sky disappeared, were inconclusive. The second test was administered the day after the first, and for some reasons, the results have never been released to the public. Neither the Police, Solomon, nor his lawyer have ever revealed what happened with the second test. I am not sure of the circumstances which result in polygraph results being kept secret. What I do know, is that Julia refused to ever take a polygraph.
It’s hard to judge, though. Polygraphs are notoriously inaccurate, so much so that they are not admissible in court. Lawyers are typically against their clients taking polygraphs, because the outcome usually can’t help. If the subject passes the test, these results cannot be read in court. If the subject fails, the court of public opinion often judges them more harshly. In terms of the person taking the test, there isn’t much benefit in submitting to one. Most people think that if you have nothing to hide, then you should take the test. However, it isn’t always such a simple decision to make. Either way, when your child goes missing, and rather than talking to the police, you hire a lawyer, that doesn’t exactly make you look good either, and that leads us to the next theory, and the most commonly believed one. The theory that Julia Biryukova knows exactly where, or what happened, to her son, Sky Metalwala.
Julia’s initial story, actually, her only story, is thin and vague. According to Julia, on the morning of November 6th, 2011, her son Sky woke up and wasn’t feeling well. I have looked as deeply as I can, but I have found no specifics of what exactly were the symptoms. Simply stated, Julia has said Sky didn’t feel well so she took him, and her daughter, loaded them up into the car and began the drive to the Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue.
During the drive, Julia takes 112th Street, which is described as an undeveloped section of road running through an area which isn’t described as the kind of place you want to be running out of gas. Around the 2600 block of 112th Street, Julia claims her vehicle runs of gas. This is where the story immediately turns strange. According to Julia, she takes her daughter from the car, and rather than take her allegedly sick child with her, she secures him tightly in his car seat, shuts the door and begins the one mile walk to a nearby Chevron gas station. Later, when Police arrive, they will discover that the vehicle was left unlocked.
According to reports, Julia arrives at the gas station one hour later. However, I’ve also read reports that she arrived back at her vehicle an hour later. Either way, I am not exactly in spectacular physical condition, but I could walk that path to the gas station and back in less than an hour. The time that she was gone seems excessive, especially when you consider her actions upon arriving at the gas station. When she gets to the Chevron, Julia does not call the police, nor does she call any time of roadside assistance company. She doesn’t tell anyone at the gas station of her situation and try to get help from them. She does not buy a gas can, and she doesn’t buy gas. Instead, Julia calls a friend, who picks her and her daughter up, and drives them back to the car.
Does this make sense to anyone? Even if you decide you’re going to call your friend for help, instead of seeking some kind of outside assistance, wouldn’t you fill a gas can and bring it back to your car so that you could continue on your way? I suppose it’s possible that Julia’s plan was to have this friend drive her to the car, and then she’d pick up Sky and have the friend drive them all to the hospital but this doesn’t really make sense to me. Why leave your car behind, when you could just purchase some gas and fill the tank?
It’s at this point that Julia claims to have gotten back to the car and discovered Sky to be missing. She places a phone call to Police, who arrive on the scene and immediately begin a massive search of the area, looking everywhere for Sky. Following typical protocol, the police notify the other parent of the situation, and conduct a search that covers a 20 block radius from the side of the car. They canvas the area, asking locals if they’d seen anything, and they talk to motorists who had driven down the road that day. According to Police, no locals report seeing or hearing anything, and of the motorists who did pass the car, none report seeing anything out of the ordinary, and none recall seeing a child in the vehicle either.
Investigators are suspicious of the story fairly quickly, and begin questioning Julia more intently. Julia grants the police authority to search her vehicle, her apartment and her internet history. The police take the vehicle in, and conduct a forensic examination. During this examination, they discover that the vehicle did in fact have sufficient gas in it to have made it several more miles, including to the Chevron station. The vehicle starts up without any issues, and is test driven, showing no signs of trouble. Now that Julia’s story is making even less sense, the Police begin to grill her more thoroughly. Julia fails to comply however, choosing not to answer many questions, and when the possibility of a polygraph test is brought up, Julia declines and hires an attorney. From that moment forward, all communication with Julia is done through her lawyer, and for the most part, there isn’t very much communication at all.
Police do speak to Solomon as part of their investigation, and we know that he takes two polygraph tests, one which yields inconclusive results, and another whose results have never been released. I’ve often wondered if they didn’t choose to release the results of his second test because he passed it, and they didn’t want Julia to be aware that she was their prime suspect at the time. Purely conjecture on my part, but if they were beginning to see Julia as the likely suspect, they wouldn’t want to scare her off, and instead would want to make her feel secure and welcome. Telling her that her ex passed, and was not a suspect, might ruffle her feathers, or make her pull back further. Regardless, she remains silent on the topic.
Every single parent I have ever known personally, or seen in the media, who has lost a child, is completely frantic. They are begging for help, they are crying out for attention, and they are constantly in contact with the police looking for updates and new information. Although Solomon has done media press conferences, made appeals and worked with the police, I can find no record of Julia ever contacting the police to ask what is being done to find her son. It seems as if, from the moment she hires her lawyer, Julia disappears and has very little to do with the search and to me, that is incredibly odd.
It was an Investigator who initially pointed out the strange similarity between Sky’s disappearance and the episode of Law and Order which had aired in a rerun the night before. I have to admit, coincidences are often possible, but this is an odd one. If you’ll recall, the episode was about a woman, going through a bitter divorce, who reports that her car was stolen, and her child was inside of it. It’s later discovered that the woman murdered her son and used the stolen car, child kidnapping story as a cover. Solomon has stated multiple times that Law and Order was Julia’s favorite television show. Is it possible that Julia saw this episode and decided that this was a plan that could work? Possibly, but I don’t think that whatever happened to Sky happened the morning of November 6th. If in fact Julia were responsible for the death of her son, or had decided to ship him out of the country, I believe this occurred in the two week period prior to his reported disappearance, the time during which no one had seen Sky.
Sky’s sister, Maile, is the only person other than Julia who reports that Sky was in the car with them that morning. It’s very important to note, that Maile was four years old at the time. Her testimony can’t be held onto as the most reliable, and it’s completely possible that Maile was told what to say, or simply said what she did in order to protect her mother. All of that is speculative, but Police decided fairly quickly that they couldn’t put a great deal of stock in Maile’s description of what happened, and investigators question whether or not Sky had even been in the car that morning. According to their investigation, they found no evidence to support Julia’s story. The police note that Julia claims she was taking her sick child to the hospital, but failed to bring her purse, wallet or phone with her that morning. All of these details when viewed separately could be brushed aside, but when stacked together, they draw even more questions about what really happened that morning.
If you factor it all together, combined with Julia’s psychological history, the bitterness of her divorce and the fact that they were in the midst of custody renegotiation, and I think you’ve got a lot of signs that all point to Julia as knowing more than she is saying. I tend to agree with Solomon’s lawyer on this: I do not believe that Sky Metalwala is still alive, and I firmly believe that his mother Julia knows exactly what happened to him. However, we can’t work of instinct, or guesses, we need evidence, and so do the Police, which is why I believe they have never brought charges up in this case.
The Bellevue Police have stated openly, multiple times, that they do not believe Julia’s story, and they believe she lied to them. They have said that if any one person holds the key to solving this case, it is Julia herself. They have gone about as far as a Police Department can go without declaring her as a suspect, and unfortunately, a lack of evidence doesn’t allow them to label her as such. It seems fairly apparent that the Police, as well as many others, believe that Julia was involved in whatever happened to her son. We simply do not have the evidence to move forward on it.
This is one of the most frustrating cases dealing with the disappearance of a child that I’ve ever spent time with. In most of these cases, it’s a stark lack of any information which leads to that frustration. In this case, however, there is a great deal of information which all seems to point towards the answer, but all of that information is circumstancial or speculative at best. It seems like one of those instances where everyone knows what happened, but no one can say it for sure, and so we all continue moving forward as if we are dealing with an abduction, because we can’t prove that we are dealing with a murder.
In the years since Sky disappeared, Solomon has remained present and continues to push for answers as to what happened to his son. Julia has remained silent, losing custody of her daughter, and moving on with her life, getting married, and having another son. Child Protective Services is currently in the process of trying to have Julia declared an unfit parent so that they can remove the child. Julia is fighting against it, but she has a massive battle ahead of her. Throughout it all, Julia seems quite removed from the disappearance of her son, Sky, to what I could only define as a cold shoulder extent. Not only is she not involved with the police in pushing for answers, but what answers she does possess, she will not give.
The Bellevue Police, on more than one occasion have pleaded with the public, and with Julia herself, for assistance in solving this case. Unfortunately, no one has come forward, and Julia maintains radio silence. Solomon still wonders every day what happened to his son, and maintains the hope that he is out there somewhere, and that someday he will come home. Investigators, and much of the public however, believe a much darker truth is looming. It is a terribly sad case, as are all of the cases I cover, but there is something so overwhelmingly troubling about the disappearance of a child. Unlike many cases where I may be fascinated with the details, or curious about the circumstances, the entire situation surrounding the disappearance of Sky Metalwala disgusts me. It is incredibly disturbing, and to see a parent have less concern for her child than I do is simply mind boggling.
Sky Metalwala has been missing for nearly six years, gone, without a trace. Though his father has moved on with his life, he continues to push for justice for his missing son, hoping to bring him home. Solomon believes Julia was involved, and wants her to come forward with the truth. The Police believe that Julia was involved, they do not believe her account of that mornings events, and they are begging for the truth. Julia, on the other hand, has never said much about what she thinks or believes. She told her single story, and she has not moved from that story, despite the plethora of holes it contains. Throughout it all, the life of a two year old boy named Sky Metalwala has become a galvanizing, cautionary tale, seemingly without a conclusion. One day, we may receive an answer, but until Julia, or some yet unknown person step forward with the truth, the disappearance of Sky Metalwala remains one of the most baffling, frustrating, and disturbing instances of a child gone missing. Was it an abduction by a stranger? A child, sent back to a foreign homeland to keep him hidden and safe? Did Sky’s own mother do something that resulted in his vanishing? What do you believe happened to Sky Metalwala? Hopefully, someday, we can answer that question.