BELLEVUE, Wash. -- The Bellevue gas station that was once ground zero for the search for two-year-old Sky Metalwala is under new management and the missing posters that once hung in the window are gone. One year after his disappearance, the Sky Metalwala case is as mysterious as ever.
I think about, what if it were my niece or nephew, said Bellevue resident Barbara Merk. I would want to know what happened to him.
Sky's mother, Julia Biryukova, told police last November she ran out of gas in Bellevue and left her son in the car while she and her 4-year-old daughter walked to a gas station for help. Julia said when she returned an hour later, her son was gone.
But she couldn t locate a single witness who d seen her and her daughter walking along the busy Bellevue arterial a mile to the gas station. When they tested Birykova s vehicle, it started right up. Apparently it wasn t out of gas. And later they learned no one had even seen Sky for weeks.
Last November Bellevue police hoped Biryukova, would come in for questioning. Instead, she hired a lawyer, who handled her communication. Police wanted Biryukova to take a polygraph. She never did. And it appears that she remains secluded at her Redmond apartment.
And while theattorney for Sky s father now sayshe believes Julia Biryukova probably killed her son, there have been no arrests.
But former King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Nelson Lee says suspicion isn t enough.
Does my gut tell me that she probably had something to do with the child's disappearance? Absolutely. But does it rise to the point that I think the prosecutors have enough to even come close to charging her? Absolutely not, Lee said.
Lee said that charging Biryukova with a lesser crime, such as child abandonment, isn t likely to gain her cooperation and could make it harder to prosecute her later on more serious charges tied to the same incident.
It could potentially be a bar down the road, let s say two years from now, if police do in fact establish the child is dead and prosecutors then wish to charge her with homicide. It could be a problem, Lee said.
Lee worked frequently with Bellevue police when he prosecuted homicides in King County and said he s certain they haven t dropped the case.
I know them. They are doing everything they can to try and uncover and turn over every stone to try and figure out what s happened to this child. So I don t think the public needs to worry that this has fallen by the wayside and this case is forgotten, Lee said.
Bellevue police refused requests for interviews saying they will release a short statement Tuesday. Calls to Biryukova s attorney were not returned.