REDMOND, Wash. – Solomon Metalwala sits at a corner table of a Redmond restaurant, his soft voice wavering, “Sky, wherever he is, he’s not home.”
It has been nearly one year since police declared his 2-year-old son, Sky Metalwala, missing. The boy’s mother, Julia Biryukova, told police her car ran out of gas and she left Sky in the car while she, and Sky’s sister, went to get help. She told police when she returned, Sky was gone.
“I think her story is a bunch of crap,” said Solomon. “I think the whole story about her running out of gas is a bunch of baloney.”
Metalwala says he now believes something happened to Sky before that day: November 6, 2011. He and Julia were locked in bitter divorce and custody fight. He chose to canvass the neighborhood after his son’s disappearance. Julia has still not given a statement to police or made a public attempt to find her son.
“When a person hides, doesn’t do anything, (it) leads to the question, okay why isn’t this person doing what they are supposed to do?” Solomon added. “She is definitely hiding something.”
Metalwala’s attorney Clay Terry was more blunt. “I think Julia extinguished that child’s life.”
Terry says he believes, based on Julia’s erratic behavior just before and after Sky’s disappearance, that she has something to do with it.
“I think this child passed from a lack of care,” Terry said, “more likely negligently than intentionally.”
“No mother would ever leave a child locked up in the seat, with the door open, and take one child and leave the other to get gas,” Terry added. “Sky was not in the car, that was an absolute lie.”
Biryukova had called Shelbi Owen, who has been questioned by police. When reached Monday, she said she knew nothing about what happened.
“I honestly pray every day that they find him," said Owen. "I have no idea.”
Another friend, Sue Jewett, also said she had “no response” about Sky’s disappearance, when reached Monday.
Biryukova has remained silent and never issued a public statement or launched an effort to find the boy. She has been active on social media. A review of her profile on SeekingArrangement.com, which helps women connect with so-called “Sugar Daddies,” shows it was accessed in May, roughly seven months since Sky disappeared. She stopped attending custody hearings concerning her daughter Maile, and a judge gave full parental rights to Solomon.
Bellevue police acknowledge that Julia admitted at one point leaving her children alone on more than occasion. She has otherwise been uncooperative. Police have not named a suspect, or made an arrest. The Bellevue Police Department has declined repeated requests for even a written statement on the status of the investigation.
Terry believes, in part, it’s because Julia and her extended family have not helped.
“Not once have they ever lifted a finger to help us find this child. If that’s not an indication of wrongdoing,” said Terry, “The circumstances in its totality indicate something bad has happened.”
Solomon says he still remains hopeful that his story will have a happy ending.
“I still believe he is alive," he said. "There is no evidence that he’s dead, and I’m a believer.”
Metalwala is planning a public vigil for his son, on Saturday, November 10 at 4 p.m. at the Redmond Downtown Central Park at 16119 Redmond Way.