The story of Julia Biryukova became more shaky on Wednesday as investigators from the Bellevue Police Department discovered there was, in fact, gas in the car she was driving when her .
Bellevue Police Maj. Mike Johnson told reporters Wednesday afternoon that investigators found a significant amount of gas in the vehicle but said he could not release the specific amount because it would compromise the investigation.
“There was a sufficient amount of gas in that vehicle to run it for a considerate distance,” Johnson said.
Biryukova, 30, told police that she was taking her son, Sky Metalwala, to Overlake Hospital Medical Center in Bellevue on Sunday because he was ill, and she said she left him asleep in the car parked in the 2600 block of 112th Avenue Northeast when she went to get help after running out of gas. She said she left him in the car with the doors unlocked, though she took her 4-year-old daughter with her.
Biryukova, a Redmond resident, told police that she walked a mile to a gas station, then called a friend who brought her back to the car, police said. The friend looked for Sky in the car, and then called police when he wasn't there, according to Johnson.
On Wednesday, investigators began a mechanical and forensic examination of Biryukova's silver 1998 Acura Integra. Johnson said that process would continue into Thursday.
Even though Biryukova told police she had run out of gas, Johnson declined to say she had lied to investigators.
"Julia did make a statement that she ran out of gas and that was the primary cause of why she stopped on the side of the road that day. Our findings today indicate that that wasn't the case," Johnson said. "What we need to consider, though, is ... that there may have been another mechanical problem that made the car stop and I don't have the answer to that yet."
Investigators plan to test drive the vehicle on Thursday in an attempt to find out if it has any mechanical problems, Johnson said.
Johnson said investigators had also been alerted to an episode of Law and Order: SVU that aired recently, before Sky went missing, and had a storyline about a mother who reports her son missing from a car, when in fact the infant in the fictional story is already deceased.
Officials have viewed the episode and found it to be "strikingly similar in nature" to the case, Johnson said.
Johnson stressed that Biryukova is still cooperating with police by answering questions through her lawyer, Veronica Frietas. But he also said the lack of answers in the case is becoming "very frustrating."
"We have been challenged to try and find evidence and facts to support Julia's story," he said. "The story doesn't add up, the whereabouts of Sky are unknown, the mother's 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."
At an earlier police briefing Wednesday, Johnson said Biryukova's 4-year-old daughter was questioned by an FBI investigator who specializes in interviewing children. Johnson said the interview was "frustrating," because investigators "learned nothing."
The daughter corroborated the mother's story that Sky was last seen in the car, Johnson said.
"That's not what we expected to hear, to be honest with you," Johnson said. "Indications are that the last time anyone saw Sky was a couple of weeks ago... We haven't been able to find anybody that has seen Sky since then. Armed with that piece of information, we were suspicious, as many of you are, as to whether he was even in the car to begin with."
According to police, the last time anyone outside of the family reported seeing Sky was a neighbor who saw him two weeks ago at the Veloce Apartments in Redmond, where Biryukova lives.
"Julia and her children led a very reclusive lifestyle, and no, it wasn't uncommon for them to not be seen for periods of time," Johnson said.
At this point, Johnson said the investigation continues to be focused on talking with those who knew Biryukova. Biryukova has not been interviewed directly by investigators since Sunday, Johnson said, and she has not submitted to a voluntary polygraph test.
Sky's father, Kirkland resident Solomon Metalwala, is expected to take a second voluntary polygraph test on Wednesday evening after results from his first test came back inconclusive.
Johnson said police are also encouraging two other people who are close to the family to take polygraph tests but he declined to identify those individuals.
Biryukova and Solomon Metalwala had a troubled relationship. The couple began divorce proceedings in 2010 and each had accused the other of posing a threat to their two children.
Metalwala has not seen his children for several months, according to his attorney Clay Terry, but the parents had come to an agreement over custody last week that gave Metalwala visitation rights.
Terry said that Biryukova's attorney contacted him last Friday and said that her client changed her mind, but Sky disappeared before they could have another meeting over custody.
Terry said that Metalwala still believes that Sky is still in Washington. Metalwala's family plans to pass out fliers and canvass the Northtowne neighborhood in Bellevue where Sky was reported missing.
According to Terry, during their custody dispute, Metalwala blocked Biryukova from traveling out of state with the children or obtaining passports for Sky and his sister, out of fear that Biryukova would take the children to Canada or to Russia, where she reportedly has family.
"We're not going to let the children have passports at all," Terry said. "She will be gone."
Meanwhile, a pastor of the couple's church, , said the congregation has reached out to both parents.
"Sky Metalwala and his family are part of our church congregation," associate pastor Troy Anderson said in an email. "Members of our congregation have reached out to both of his parents, and we are all praying that Sky will be found safe and sound."
Sky Elijah Metalwala
Age 2, 2’10” tall, 39 pounds, black hair, brown eyes.
Sky was last seen on Nov. 6, 2011, in the 2600 block of 112th Ave. N.E., Bellevue, Wash.
He was last seen wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, black and aqua blue sweatpants and white socks.
Sky was in the silver 1998 Acura Integra three door coupe pictured when he disappeared.
Police ask anyone who was traveling Sunday morning along 112th Avenue Northeast, between State Route-520 and Northeast 24th Street, to please call the Bellevue Police Tip line at 425-452-2564.