At-large killing spree suspect’s 3-year-old son found dead
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – A 3-year-old boy’s body was found in a cardboard TV box in a grassy field just a few miles from where his father, Nikolay Soltys, is suspected of also killing his wife, aunt, uncle and two young cousins.
Tuesday’s grisly discovery was ”probably the most distressing of all, because there was a great deal of hope throughout the department that we would be able to find this child safe and sound,” said Sacramento County Sheriff’s Sgt. James Lewis.
Sergey Soltys’ bloody body was found in a rural part of Placer County, northeast of Sacramento. Authorities said he had been cut or stabbed and was placed inside a 36-inch television box with no lid.
Police had not determined the cause of the child’s death.
A note, handwritten on the back of a photo of Soltys’ wife holding their son, led authorities to the boy’s body. The note had been tucked into a car door pocket.
On Monday, Soltys was seen at both the North Highlands home where his wife was found dead and the Rancho Cordova duplex of the four other victims. The homes are about 20 minutes apart.
A warrant has been issued for Soltys’ arrest on suspicion of five counts of murder. Lewis said investigators also believe he’s responsible for his son’s death.
The Sacramento County Coroner’s office on Tuesday said Soltys’ wife and two young cousins died from ”sharp force trauma,” indicating stab wounds. Autopsies on the others were pending.
Responding to dozens of tips, authorities intensified a nationwide search for Soltys. Officers were stationed at bus terminals and airports, and investigators appealed to Eastern European residents and offered a $10,000 reward.
Investigators received as many as a dozen reports of Soltys sightings near where his abandoned car was discovered. None had produced any solid leads.
Sheriff’s officials planned to distribute fliers in Russian and English in some neighborhoods in the Sacramento area, which has approximately 75,000 Ukrainian and Russian immigrants.
As details of the killings continued to emerge, experts tried to unravel what may have gone through the killer’s mind.
”These are the methodical actions of a man who has made up his mind what he is going to do. He has a mission,” said Clint Van Zandt, a former FBI profiler in Virginia.
Soltys may have mentally blocked out the violent events as he carried out the tasks of driving and cleaning himself up, another profiler said.
”He’s putting part of himself in compartments of his mind and not having to deal with them, probably because he can’t deal with them,” said John Philpin, a retired psychologist in Vermont and one of the nation’s first private profilers.
Authorities got a break late Monday when they found Soltys’ 1995 Nissan Altima parked behind a Sacramento home improvement store. A search of the area turned up nothing but the note.
Lyubov Soltys, 22, was stabbed before 10 a.m. inside the couple’s home in suburban North Highlands, authorities said. Then, police said, Soltys drove 20 minutes to a duplex in Rancho Cordova, where he stabbed his aunt and uncle, Galina Kukharskaya, 74, and Petr Kukharskiy, 75.
Authorities said Soltys then attacked two 9-year-old cousins, Tatyana Kukharskaya and Dimitriy Kukharskiy, the grandchildren of the slain couple.
Gravely wounded, the children ran from the home. Dimitriy died in his mother’s arms, while Tatyana was taken to University of California at Davis Medical Center, where she was later pronounced dead.
About an hour after leaving Rancho Cordova, investigators said, Soltys arrived at his mother’s house in Citrus Heights to pick up his son.
Soltys’ mother told police her son seemed fine and showed no signs that anything was wrong. Police would not release her name, saying she was a witness in the case.
Investigators said they have no motive for the killings, but some family members said they were unhappy Soltys was unemployed and on government aid. Detectives are also investigating whether Soltys had a violent temper and if drugs or mental illness played a role in the killings.
”He had mental problems,” said Inna Yasinsky, an aunt to one of the children killed Monday.
In Ukraine, authorities said, Soltys was rejected by the national army for mental instability. He also had a history of domestic violence. Soltys came to the United States almost three years ago and has no known criminal record.
Before arriving in the Sacramento area, Soltys lived for two years in Binghamton, N.Y., a city of 60,000.
Lorelle Frushour of the Interreligious Council of Central New York, which sponsored Soltys’ immigration to the United States, called him ”a fine person. No problems. We had no indication that there was marital abuse or anything like that.”
Soltys entered the United States in August 1998 as part of an immigration program designed to let evangelical Christians and Jews escape persecution in parts of the former Soviet Union.
The program, authorized by the 1989 Lautenberg Amendment, lacks the standard police clearances required of other immigrants.
Sheriff’s investigators said Soltys is 6 feet tall, weighs 165 pounds and has blue eyes and blond hair.
On the Net: See http://www.sacsheriff.com for a mug shot of Soltys and information about the case.
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