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Authorities Hunting for Sacramento Man Suspected of Killing Five Family Members

Aired August 20, 2001 - 16:00   ET


JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Back here at CNN Center, again, we want to bring you an update on breaking news coming to us from the Sacramento, California area. We've been telling you about it, and we've just received confirmation now from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department confirming the deaths of at least four people now. A 7-year-old female as well, the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department tells us, is in critical condition at a local hospital. And they are looking for a suspect they describe as 27-year-old Nikolay Soltys. He was last seen driving a silver Nissan Altima and is considered, and they're concerned because they believe he is armed and dangerous.

We want to turn now to the U.C. Davis Medical Center. That is where the young victim was taken with injuries that were described as critical by the Sheriff's Department. From U.C. Davis now is Janet Dolan, who's on the telephone line with us now.

Ms. Dolan, can you bring us up-to-date on the condition of the young child who was brought to you?

JANET DOLAN, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA-DAVIS MEDICAL CENTER: We received only one child from this incident. It was a 9-year-old female stabbing victim who arrived at our emergency room around 11:30 a.m. today, dead on arrival.

CHEN: She was dead on arrival. I'm very sorry to hear that. And you have identified her as a 9-year-old child.


CHEN: OK, because the earlier reports we had gotten from the Sacramento Sheriff's Department was that it was a 7-year-old child. There doesn't -- this probably is just confusion about the age, not a separate victim as near as you know. You're not awaiting any additional victims.

DOLAN: We -- we do not expect any other victims to arrive.

CHEN: And you do say that she was victim of a stabbing?

DOLAN: Yes, that was the information that we had.

CHEN: Can you explain what sort of injuries she had? DOLAN: No, I don't know the extent of injury on her because she arrived DOA.

CHEN: A very tragic scene, from the Sheriff's Department reporting to us earlier. They were unclear, and that's why I asked you, because they were unclear about whether the victims stabbed or were the victims of some other kind of trauma.

As near as you know, there were no gunshot-inflicted injuries involved here.

DOLAN: No, this was the only victim we received, and it was a stabbing.

CHEN: All right, Janet Dolan is with the U.C. Davis Medical Center. She's on the telephone line with us from Davis, California, not far from Sacramento.

Again, we want to bring you up to date on this. If you're just joining CNN, this late-breaking news development, just coming to us within the last half hour, what we've learned from K -- from all media sources that have now reported into CNN as well as the sheriff's department in Sacramento. CNN is reporting now the confirmation of five deaths in this case.

What we're able to learn so far is this. About 10 o'clock this morning, the Sheriff's Department was called out to one location in a community that they call North Highland. It's just north of Sacramento. There they found one woman who they say was dead on arrival when the Sheriff's Department got there. Then they were called to a second location in a community called Rancho Cordova. At that location, they found two elderly victims, a man and a woman, as well as a young child, an infant boy they are describing him, also dead at that location.

And then at that point they moved the victim, the now 9-year-old girl, off to the U.C. Davis Medical Center, where the U.C. Davis spokesman just told us -- spokeswoman just told us that that child arrived dead on arrival there.

Again, now five victims in this rampage in the Sacramento community.

Joining us now from the Sacramento Sheriff's Department on the telephone line is Sergeant James Lewis. Sergeant Lewis, if you can explain to us what you have been able to discern about the location of your apparent suspect at this point?

SGT. JAMES LEWIS, SACRAMENTO COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: Well, at this point we have two different locations. Our original investigation took place at about 10 minutes before 10 o'clock this morning. At that location, we had a 27-year-old, what we think is a 27-year-old female victim we believe to be the wife of the suspect. While we were in the process of investigating that, the homicide, we received a call of a secondary location some 5 to 10 miles east of the original homicide scene. At this location we have two elderly victims, a male and a female. We also have an infant, we believe is a male infant on the front porch.

We transported a female victim, child -- at the time we thought it was a 7-year-old female victim. And as I understand it, she has been pronounced dead at the hospital. So we have a total of five victims, one suspect responsible for all five.

CHEN: Now, this suspect, his vehicle, I understand, was seen at both locations?

LEWIS: That's correct. He was described as leaving both locations in a silver Nissan Altima. We don't really know what the motive for the attack is at this point. We don't know what the cause of the deaths for any of the victims are, and quite frankly, we don't have the identities on any of the victims. We're still in the process of trying to determine all of that. But we do not believe that they were gunshot-related.

CHEN: Yeah. The U.C. Davis Medical Center told us they believe that the victim who was brought there and who arrived dead on arrival there was stabbed.

Now, for our viewers, the picture we're looking at on the air now is the man you have identified as the suspect: a 27-year-old man, Nikolay Soltys. You believe he is related to all the victims?

LEWIS: Well, that's -- that's correct. Like I said before, we think that the first female victim is his wife. We're not really sure how he's related to the victims here in the Rancho Cordova area. That's something we're trying to figure out now. But it appears to be -- it appears as though these were not random. In other words, he knew the victims, either associated by family or by friends, and we're assuming family.

CHEN: And do you have any reason to believe that this individual had any kind of prior violent history, any sort of criminal record that you have on record there in the Sheriff's Department?

LEWIS: We don't have any detailed information about the suspect's criminal record at this point. In fact, I don't think he was even known to us as having been arrested before. The photograph that you're showing is actually a Department of Motor Vehicles photograph that we're putting out so that if anybody has any information about his whereabouts to get ahold us. It's really important that they know, though, that he's obviously considered armed and dangerous, and not to approach him, but to call us instead.

CHEN: Talk to us a little bit about the communication problem I understand that your investigators are having in this community.

LEWIS: Yeah, all the victims appear to be Russian immigrants. We've had some difficulty communicating with not only the neighbors, but other family members based on the language barrier. We do in fact have Russian-speaking officers that are in the process of jumping into this investigation, whether it be just translating or trying to get ahold of people in the Russian community to help us out.

CHEN: You have a big Russian community out there in Sacramento County?

LEWIS: We do. We have a pretty dense population in both of the areas where these homicides took place.

CHEN: Some of the early information we were getting suggested that the second location you went to was a day-care center. Was there some confusion about that? Is it clear that all these children were related or were in some way being cared for by other individuals at the second location?

LEWIS: It is not a day-care center that we've been able to establish. I don't know where that information came from. It appears as though the children here were related to each other. We don't know whether or not they were related to the suspect or the victims at the first homicide scene. That's again something we're trying to figure out, because we have yet to actually identify all of the victims.

CHEN: OK. Now, bear in mind that you are talking to an audience all across the nation at this point, and they may not be familiar with these communities. If you could explain to us -- we're not talking about in the city of Sacramento at this point, right? North Highlands and Rancho Cordova: Can you explain the distances involved?

LEWIS: Yeah, both -- both communities are suburbs of Sacramento County. They are actually in Sacramento County. They are suburbs of the city of Sacramento. Rancho Cordova is about 10 miles east of downtown Sacramento. North Highlands is probably 5 to 8 miles north- northwest of Sacramento County. And they're basically bedroom communities.

Quite ironically, both of them are near closed Air Force bases. They were at some point, you know, predominantly -- occupied by military folks.

CHEN: Also what have you been able to learn? I mean, have there been any reports made to you by any citizens of the community of seeing this silver Nissan Altima or of seeing this 27-year-old man, Nikolay Soltys? It's been on all the local news, I take it, this afternoon. Have there been any citizen reports about seeing him?

LEWIS: Not that I'm aware of right now. I, quite frankly, have been a little inundated with just media requests here at this scene. And so I don't know what we've received as far as calls to our communications center. I can say that we did have witnesses at both scenes that saw him in the vehicle leaving shortly after the bodies were located. So, that's what has linked the two investigations and him to both suspects -- or both sets of homicides.

CHEN: As far as the calls made to 911, made to investigators who were called out to these scenes, were they made by the victims or by someone else, as far as you know?

LEWIS: No. We received calls from neighbors in both instances.

CHEN: And what did they report? LEWIS: The first call, as I understand it, was a call indicating that the female had been stabbed. The second one was kind of unclear, quite frankly. It came through our fire department's dispatch center as an auto versus pedestrian accident. So it took us a little while to figure out exactly, you know, what the actual circumstances were. Once the fire department arrived at the scene here what they thought was going to be an auto versus pedestrian accident, they located or found the gruesome scene with, you know, three victims and actually a total of four victims.

CHEN: I'm a little bit unclear, because we're looking at videotape coming to us from a couple of different sources -- I don't think you can see TV right now from where you are. But there's one location we have seen from our affiliate KCRA showing us a house that appears to have like a garage in the front of the house. Is that the scene where the multiple victims were found or where the first woman was found?

LEWIS: I believe that KCRA is here in Rancho Cordova, which you can see a multicolored white and gray van in the driveway. That would be the actual location of the multiple homicide scene.

CHEN: And I understand that the youngest victim, the baby boy, was found on the porch of this home.

LEWIS: Right, on the walkway leading to the front door.

CHEN: And in this, the rest of this community, were there other people out on the street? Did they report that they had seen this guy come out or any screaming or anything to that nature?

LEWIS: That's what we're trying to determine right now through a neighborhood canvass. I'm not sure what investigators have learned since we've started that canvass. But again, this call came to us from a neighbor, so someone obviously saw something. I'm not sure exactly how much detail they had.

We did get, again, witnesses at both locations seeing the suspect and the suspect vehicle at both locations, which is what has led us to believe that he's responsible for the deaths at both places.

Again, we can't positively say that at this point, but just based on the information that we have and the sheer desire to get this person off the streets or at least get him into our custody so that we can talk to him, you know, we have to get his photograph out there and try to get the public's help in identifying him or at least locating him for us.

CHEN: Now, looking to our audience, which is looking at this on a broader scale -- we've probably got viewers in other parts of California as well. You -- you in these two locations are fairly close to some big highways. An individual fleeing from one of these locations could go quite a number of directions here.

LEWIS: That's correct. This second location, Rancho Cordova, is directly adjacent to U.S. 50, which runs east toward Lake Tahoe, and then runs west into Interstate 80, you know, which into Southern California and beyond.

CHEN: The other thing that I'm concerned about -- I'm sure you are as well -- is this 2-year-old. Is there any indication, any report made of where this 2-year-old might be?

LEWIS: We have no idea at this point, and again, we don't know that -- the 2-year-old may be safe and sound. We don't know. What we're trying to do is we're trying to account for all the family members associated to this guy to make certain that we're not, you know, overlooking the possibility that he may be en route to another family member's location or he may have another victim with him, or you know, something to that effect. So we have to try to account for everybody.

That 2-year-old is somebody that was readily identified as a family member that was unaccounted for.

CHEN: All right. We will ask you to standby. Sergeant Jim Lewis is with the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department. If you can hang on for a minute, we're getting some additional information from the scene now from KMX-TV (sic).

Abbott Dutton is joining us now. Can you hear me?


CHEN: All right, what can you -- KMAX, I'm sorry, is your affiliate. What can you tell us about what's going on at the scene now, Abbott?

DUTTON: Right now authorities have gone around the second crime scene. This is the scene where three victims were found, this elderly couple and the infant that was found dead on the porch. Also there was another victim that was hurt here as well and she was taken to the hospital.

Authorities are still on the scene. They're in the area as well looking for this suspect.

Of course, it all started about three hours ago in the very first location -- that was in North Highlands, up about -- about 30 miles from here. Started around 10 o'clock in the morning. That's where a woman, a 27-year-old woman, was found dead in her home.

They were working that crime scene when a call came in for this one in Rancho Cordova, where we are. And this is where they found the elderly couple and the infant as well.

The body of the infant is still outside the house. It is under a tarp right now. Authorities are surrounding them about 100 yards away from that.

They are looking for Nikolay Soltys. He is the man that is believed to be the wife (sic) of the first victim, that 27-year-old woman who was found in that first location. He is also related to all of the other victims. There is a massive manhunt under way right now for Nikolay Soltys. Also missing is that 2-year-old relative of the family. They don't know his whereabouts as well.

CHEN: All right, Abbott...


Reporter Abbott Dutton from KMAX-TV is on the telephone line with us. We appreciate her additional information. We want to get back to Sergeant Jim Lewis, who is with the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department.

Again, Sergeant Lewis, can you give us any additional information, what you're asking now from people in the community who might have located or seen this person, Nikolay Soltys, in the silver Nissan Altima? What can you advise they would do?

LEWIS: Well, certainly we consider him armed and dangerous, so I would not suggest anybody approach him themselves. But if anybody has any information as to his whereabouts or where he may be hanging out, whom he may be associating that ultimately may lead us to him, they can get ahold of us through our sheriff's communication center at area code 916-874-5117.

CHEN: And Sergeant Lewis, has there been any effort to road block in this area or do anything of that nature?

LEWIS: We have not taken any steps to do that based on the fact that we didn't have any immediate direction of travel that would help us out in that. If we can establish something, you know, that would make that possible later, certainly we would do that. But we've got a relatively extended period of time here that's passed. So certainly, if he got on one of the major freeways, he could be several miles from here.

CHEN: Yeah. He could be a good distance away.

Now, let me ask you this. We have made something of an assumption that the woman found at the location, the individual in North Highlands was killed first. Is that a bad assumption? Is it clear to you which location was the site of a first attack and therefore which location this suspect might be fleeing from most recently?

LEWIS: We believe that the first victim was the victim in North Highlands, and that's based on just the times that we received the calls. I would suspect that based on the location of the victim on the porch here that we would have received this call had it occurred prior to the time that we got the call. So we're assuming that the first victim is the victim in North Highlands and that the subsequent victims are here in Rancho Cordova.

CHEN: All right. We want to show our viewers some videotape that we have right now of one of the locations. Actually this is a live picture from our affiliate KX-TV. And really, sergeant, I know that you can't see our TV, so it might be difficult for you to identify this location, but we're looking at an area, roped off now, with a red vehicle as well as some Sheriff's Department cars in front of it.

Can you give us any indication of which location we're looking at?

LEWIS: It's actually the location that has a large van conversion in the front, in the driveway of it. It's silver and white, has a large brown garage door, tan siding, stucco siding.

CHEN: All right. I guess that must be the location you're at, and so you're familiar with that, Sergeant Lewis. What about individuals living in this area? Are you concerned at all for their safety, that the person might still be on foot and very close by?

LEWIS: We don't believe he's on foot. We have one witness at least that saw him leaving in a vehicle, and that vehicle that we're looking for is not here. So we are assuming that he's gone in a vehicle. We don't believe that the general public is in danger based on the fact that these attacks do not appear to have been random. They appear to have been specific targets, targets that were family, you know, family or some type of association to the suspect.

CHEN: Can you -- you did mention that there are a number of Russian immigrants in this area. Can you describe a little bit more about these two communities, what they're like, the population and so forth?

LEWIS: They're very diverse populations in both location. This one -- the one location that we're at here -- actually, both -- both locations are former military-housing-type -- I don't know how to describe it -- communities. They were directly adjacent to military bases. Here in Rancho Cordova we're about a mile, if that, from Mather Air Force Base, and the location in North Highlands was within a mile of McClellan Air Force Base. Both of them are decommissioned Air Force bases.

CHEN: Both of them were closed down some time ago. And you did mention that there -- these people were believed to be Russian immigrants, and there is a large Russian immigrant community in both North Highlands and in Rancho Cordova. Can you explain why that is?

LEWIS: You know, they're predominantly lower income housing. Most of them are rentals. These are -- both locations actually are duplexes. In other words, they're -- the victims lived in one-half of a duplex, with an adjoining wall to another duplex. I don't know other than the fact that the -- the fact that the Russian immigrants who come into town and are looking for rental property rather than to purchase homes. Other than that I don't really know why they would head toward these areas.

CHEN: Yes, congregate in one area. Again, this is, I think, the videotape that you were referring to, the picture from KCRA, a helicopter shot showing us, we believe this is the location, Rancho Cordova. You said that there was a multicolored conversion vehicle in front of that home, and so I think that's probably what we're looking at in these pictures.

Sergeant, if you can go back a little bit -- I know it's about 20 minutes after the hour here. And I suppose that there are probably viewers who are joining us late and probably walking into this and trying to ascertain what exactly it is we're covering here.

If you could just begin at the top again, the number of victims as you know it now and what you're searching for?

LEWIS: Well, we have five victims total. We have four victims were here at this address in Rancho Cordova. We have one victim that was found earlier this morning just before 10 o'clock in North Highlands. We believe that that victim was the wife of the suspect. We're not really sure what the relation of the victims are here at the second location. One of the victims here was transported to the medical center, our U.C. Davis Medical Center, which is a trauma hospital. That victim was, as I understand, a 9-year-old female child. She was pronounced dead there at the scene.

So five total victims, one suspect that we believe was responsible for all five deaths. He was seen at both locations, and we're certainly looking for help in locating him.

CHEN: Yeah, and there is some concern, the possibility that the 2-year-old is missing, might be with the suspect, might not be. Can you explain that?

LEWIS: Well, we -- we're in the process of trying to account for all the family members that were either at the first location or the second location. We're not sure which. The one -- one person that comes up in our efforts to try to locate the family is a 2-year-old, and we believe it is a male. We have not accounted for that child yet, so we, you know, are trying to do that as quickly as possible.

CHEN: Yeah. I'm looking at the release from the Sheriff's Department, from your sheriff's department out there in Sacramento County. The first reports about the first victim was actually made in a phone call from the unit next door, I guess. You're saying both of these are duplex residences. Has there been any report about what that first call enumerated, what that first caller said had happened or what he was hearing?

LEWIS: Well, the first call came to us via 911, and it was a call from a neighbor who indicated that there was a female at that address on (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Court, which is in the North Highlands area, who had been stabbed. When we got there, we found a female victim in a duplex adjoining the duplex where we believed that victim lived with the suspect. So we were in the process of conducting that investigation when we got the calls regarding this secondary location here.

CHEN: All right. And on the second location, then, you don't really have information about what they're reporting, whether there were screams heard or anything of that kind?

LEWIS: I haven't heard anybody reporting screams. And again, it came to us through the fire department after the fire department received a call of an auto versus pedestrian accident, which we later determined was unfounded. When the fire department got here, they uncovered the gruesome scene of five -- or four total victims here.

CHEN: The small child, baby, baby boy, I understand it, was out on the walk in front of that house, the location you're at. And the two elderly people, they were inside?

LEWIS: That's right.

CHEN: Can you give us any identification, any location on where they might have been?

LEWIS: I believe they were in the upstairs part of the duplex. I'm not sure exactly where. And I believe that the other child, the 9-year-old girl, was in some -- some part of the interior of the house as well.

CHEN: What about the people in the community? Have they gathered? You mentioned that they're all immigrants. I suppose they have some sort of relationship with their community. Are they gathered there at the location you're at?

LEWIS: We have a number of community members here. We don't have as many as you would think. But yes, I mean, we do have people that out here obviously, just to see the spectacle.

CHEN: And you have in your sheriff's department people who speak Russian?

LEWIS: That's right. We actually have a community outreach officer who is assigned to our gang task force who speaks Russian. We also have the ability to call in interpreters, you know, for something as serious as this as well.

CHEN: All right. I want to update again for our viewers who have just joined us late in all of this the situation that we're watching out there in the Sacramento area, again as Sergeant James Lewis has been telling. There are two bedroom communities of Sacramento: North Highlands, a little bit north of the city of Sacramento, about 10 minutes a way or so as the crow flies, as Sergeant Lewis has been telling us; at Rancho Cordova. In these communities the sheriff investigators have found a total of five victims. Right now they are looking for a 27-year-old suspect in this case. His name, as they have identified him, is Nikolay Soltys. They are looking for him. They believe that he was driving a silver Nissan Altima, and they are very concerned, because they think there is still a good possibility that he is armed and dangerous.

Again, we'd like to thank Sergeant Jamie Lewis, James Lewis from the Sacramento Sheriff's Department for being with us on the telephone line for so long and for giving us so much information about what is going on out there in the Sacramento area.

Sergeant, thanks very much for being with us. Other information that we have been able to learn so far about this case is what they have told us from the Sheriff's Department. They received a call this morning about 10 o'clock local time from a neighbor, the next-door neighbor of a woman. When the deputies arrived, they found a woman was dead. They believe she had been stabbed. They were then called to a second location, again about 10, 15 minutes away in Rancho Cordova in another home. When deputies arrived there, they found a baby boy dead on a walkway leading up to the second home, two elderly victims inside.

All three had been killed. They are not clear about what trauma led to those deaths. They also found a 9-year-old girl on the scene who was very badly injured. They tried to deliver her to the U.C. Davis Medical Center but she was dead on arrival. Her injuries, the U.C. Davis Medical Center reported to us that this victim died of stab wounds and was dead before she arrived at U.C. Davis Medical Center. They were unable to do anything more for her.

Four victims then from the second location, one victim for the first location. There's also a great deal of concern for a 2-year-old child who is missing at this point, they think. Now what Sheriff -- what Sergeant Lewis from the Sheriff's Department has said to us is that there is some question about the location of this additional child, a 2-year-old boy, as well.

They say that this child is attributed as a member of this family, and all the other victims were member of one family, one extended family. They are concerned because they have not so far been able to locate this two-year-old. They do not know if the 2-year-old was taken by the suspect or in some other location safe and sound and nonaffected by disaster that this horrible rampage and claiming of all these lives out there in the Sacramento community.

So they are right now looking for that 2-year-old boy, as well they are looking for the 27-year-old suspect, Nikolay Soltys. They say that he is the husband of the victim they found at the first location.

They have warned people in the community watch out for him, that he may be armed, he may be quite dangerous given all they have learned so far, and they want very much to bring him in for a questioning at this point.

They are continuing to look and continuing to advise the community to be very aware and watch out for him.

CNN is continuing our coverage of this developing story out there in the Sacramento community. We'll bring you details as soon as we get them. Right now, we'll take a break.



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