SEATTLE — The car a woman says ran out of gas — leading to the disappearance Sunday of her 2-year-old son — ran just fine Friday when police took it for a test drive. No gas was added before the test and no mechanical problem was found, police said.
With Sky Metalwala still missing, more suspicion is falling on his mother, Julia Biryukova, to explain about the car and other discrepancies in her story.
Since reporting her son missing she has been speaking to police through a lawyer and has not responded to requests made Thursday to speak to investigators voluntarily, said Maj. Mike Johnson.
There’s not enough evidence to name Biryukova as a suspect, Johnson said at a news conference in Bellevue. “At this point, we don’t have it.”
“What we’ve tried to do is present the facts as we see them, and if that casts suspicion on Julia it’s the facts speaking, not us,” Johnson said.
At what point does she become a suspect? he was asked.
“I don’t have the answer,” he said.
Could she face charges such as making a false report?
“It’s something we’ll look at once the dust settles on the missing person portion of the investigation,” Johnson said.
The disappearance of the boy remains a gnawing problem for more than 150 local and state police and FBI agents. Police say the mother’s story is full of holes. She says she was taking Sky to a hospital when the car stopped, so she left him alone in the unlocked car and took his 4-year-old sister to go for gas. When she returned an hour later, she says, he was gone.
Police hit another dead end with a shoe that was found along the road Thursday evening.
“We don’t believe that’s Sky’s shoe,” Johnson said. It’s not the right size and dogs didn’t pick up the boy’s scent.
Police continue to receive tips from the public — people who think they saw Sky, mothers who want to help, even psychics. Everything is being checked out of hope that the boy will be found alive.
Police are operating on that assumption.
It’s also the belief of Sky’s father, Solomon Metalwala. He hasn’t seen his children since December of last year because of a divorce and custody dispute.
The parents had reached a tentative agreement for visitation after a 12-hour mediation session last week. But Biryukova backed out of the agreement on Friday — two days before she reported Sky missing.
Metalwala says Biryukova suffers from severe obsessive-compulsive disorder and goes on cleaning binges in which she wouldn’t feed the children. But a doctor said her diagnosis didn’t interfere with her ability to care for the kids.
The 4-year-old daughter was taken into the care of state Child Protective Services after her brother was reported missing.
The family has a previous record of leaving Sky alone in a car in a store parking lot in Redmond when he was 3 months old. Court records show he was alone for nearly an hour on a 27-degree day in December 2009 before police had the car owner’s paged.
Police cited both parents for reckless endangerment. The case was dismissed early this year after the couple completed a year’s probation, community service and a 10-week parenting class.