Police looking for Sky Metalwala visited garbage transfer stations and landfill

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on November 10, 2011 at 1:57 PM

Mother's route from car to gas station

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BELLEVUE, Wash. -- KING 5 News has learned that authorities searching for missing two-year-old Sky Metalwala inspected two garbage transfer stations and a landfill on Tuesday and now believe there is the possibility that they may need to begin digging through 50,000 tons of garbage.

FBI agents, among other law enforcement, visited the Houghton Transfer Station in Kirkland and the Factoria Transfer Station in Bellevue, as well as the Cedar Hills landfill where garbage that passes through those facilities is buried.

No information on what they found was provided.  It is not uncommon in cases like this to trace garbage. Earlier this week authorities searched Dumpsters and trash chutes in the building where Julia Biryukova lives with her children.

KING 5's Meg Coyle reports from family court in Kent that the state is urging a judge to keep Sky's four-year-old sister in state custody over concerns about Biryukova's potential influence over the girl's version of events regarding Sky's disappearance.

The judge told the courtroom that he's unlikely to rule on custody today.

Updates from the regular 3:30 p.m. press briefing conducted by Bellevue PD:

* Police found a sufficient amount of gas in Biryukova's car, enough to run it "for some distance," Bellevue PD spokesman Mike Johnson said. This fact is at odds with Biryukova's account that she left Sky alone in the car after she ran out of gas.

* Johnson said police plan to check the car to see if there was another mechanical problem that caused the car to stop working on Sunday.

* Police have not conducted searches at area landfills. They would not rule out further searches if evidence pointed investigators in that direction. But Johnson confirmed that police have made inquiries about where trash is taken from Biryukova's neighborhood.

* Police used a search-and-rescue dog at Biryukova's apartment on Monday, not a cadaver dog as some had speculated.

* Police do not have a specific list of names of people they want to administer polygraphs to. Johnson said only that they would like to hear from anyone close to Julia and Sky.

* Police cannot name a suspect until they have "hard evidence" that someone was at fault in Sky's disappearance, Johnson said. At this point, police don't have such evidence, "only a lot of questions," Johnson said.

FROM EARLIER:

Bellevue police say they are focusing on conducting polygraph tests in the investigation and search for 2-year-old Sky Metalwala, missing now for four days. They are also doing a more thorough search of the car driven by Sky's mother.

Here is the newest information in the case:

  • Bellevue Police say the mother, Julia Biryukova, did not have her cell phone or wallet on her when Sky disappeared. She left them both at home.
  • Investigators will examine the car that Biryukova drove more thoroughly for DNA evidence. Police continue DNA tests on swabs taken from Biryukova's apartment.
  • Dogs did not pick up any scent of Sky outside the car during the search Sunday.
  • Police will expand polygraph testing to include people closest to Sky and Biryukova. This includes Sky's father, Solomon Metalwala, who is scheduled to take his second polygraph test Wednesday. They are also asking people to voluntarily submit DNA samples to eliminate them as suspects.
  • Biryukova did not appear at a custody hearing for her daughter Wednesday, on the advice of her divorce attorney, Veronica Freitas. The attorney says Biryukova is very distraught and advised that there is no upside to taking a polygraph and no way to make people less suspicious by being in court. Frietas also says she is frustrated with police and that Biryukova has been cooperative.
  • Police continue to interview more people in the investigation, but there are still no "compelling" leads.

"The people that are closest to Sky and Julia are the people that know what happened to Sky," said Johnson. "If everyone cooperates, we should have the answers that we need."

Johnson said Biryukova has responded to every question police have asked through an attorney and she still has not taken a polygraph test.

"To be quite honest that's suspicious, and we're puzzled by that," he said.

Johnson said her attorney told police that Julia is devastated and in no condition to take a polygraph.

Late Tuesday night, Bellevue police interviewed Shelbi Owen, a woman believed to be a friend of Biryukova and the person police believe Biryukova called for help after Biryukova said she ran out of gas and left Sky in the car to walk to a gas station.

Owen reportedly told police she was shocked to see Sky's mother walking on Sunday morning without her son.  Investigators say the last time someone saw the toddler was two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, the search for Sky is now gaining national attention. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has added Sky's missing child poster to its website.

Biryukova reported Sky missing on Sunday after she said she left him unattended in her car after running out of gas on a Bellevue road. Police conducted a widescale search the same day, but turned up no sign of the toddler.

“We continue to invite (the mother) to take a polygraph, and as of yet she has not taken one,” said Iafrate. "It's been over 48 hours and there's been nobody that's come forward telling us where Sky is, so obviously foul play is under consideration here."

Iafrate asked anyone with any information to call the tipline. [425-452-2564]

"We want people to call in," she said. "That's how we've solved some of our crimes in the past. It's very important that if there's anybody that has information about Sky to call in."

Police are using three electronic billboards with a tipline to solicit information from the public. And the attorney for the boy's father, Solomon Metalwala, said his church is organizing a private search effort.

On Tuesday, police said they have talked to only one person -- a neighbor of Biryukova's -- who reported seeing Sky in the past two weeks. No other person, aside from Biryukova and her four-year-old daughter, have come forward to say they saw Sky in that time.

Biryukova is in touch with police and investigators know where she is staying while the search for Sky continues, Iafrate said. The daughter is staying with a foster family under state supervision.

Police have not named Biryukova as a suspect, but on Monday investigators searched the Redmond apartment where Biryukova lives with Sky and her daughter, including the building's dumpsters.

Biryukova has hired a new attorney -- Robert Flennaugh, a Seattle lawyer who specializes in criminal defense law.

No Amber Alert has been issued because this case doesn't meet the criteria, Iafrate said Tuesday.

"One of the qualifications for an Amber Alert is if you have some type of suspect information. We do not have any suspect information at this point," she said.

Police would like to hear from anyone who may have travelled along 112th Ave N.E., between SR 520 and NE 24th Ave N.E., Sunday morning between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m.

 The missing boy is half South Asian and Caucasian, 2-foot-2 and 39 pounds with brown eyes, a dark buzzcut hair and was last seen wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and black and aqua blue sweatpants and white socks.

The car Biryukova drove is a silver, 1998 Acura Integra three-door coupe.

Anyone who saw these people or this vehicle on November 6 is asked to call (425) 452-2564 or email pdtipline@bellevuewa.gov

KING 5's Jim Forman, Chris Daniels, Elisa Hahn, Meg Coyle and Jake Whittenberg contributed to this report.

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