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Sacramento Police Address Search for Suspected Family Killer

Aired August 22, 2001 - 13:18   ET


LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to Sacramento, California, where the sheriff's department there is commenting on the latest development in the search for the Ukrainian immigrant who has been on the loose after allegedly murdering members of his family, including his 3-year-old son, whose body was found yesterday.

Let's listen to what they have to say.


SHERIFF LOU BLANAS, SACRAMENTO SHERIFF'S DEPT.: ... received confirmation from the U.S. Marshal, who is putting up $10,000. We have also received a number of e-mails, a number of phone calls. One individual up in Granite Bay has offered another $10,000. Some individuals have offered thousands, $500.

We're getting a lot of community support in trying to apprehend this cold-blooded killer. I want to thank the community members who have called in and e-mailed us with their concerns and their generosity. We are developing a fund with the Carole Sund Carrington Foundation for these moneys to be filtered into. And we will make further announcements on the exact amount that we have available for rewards. We urge anybody with information concerning this subject or suspect to please come forward and give us that information.

And anybody associated with that or knows where this individual is at, is at risk for being his next victim. So I beg you, please call us and let us know so we can come out and apprehend this individual.

At this time, I'd like to introduce the lead investigator on the case, Ron Garverick.

QUESTION: Can you spell your name, please?

RON GARVERICK, SACRAMENTO CO. SHERIFF'S DEPT.: It's spelled G-A- R-V -- as in Victor -- E-R-I-C-K.

As of this morning, the most information we have is regarding a possible suspect vehicle. The suspect vehicle is described as a mid- 90s Ford Explorer. It's an emerald green top. We have silver paint at the bumper line and below.

It appears to have factory-polished rims, Firestone tires. The most interesting thing regarding this vehicle is the fact that the rear hatch, which lifts up, is of a lighter green color and it does not match the rest of the vehicle color. We are assuming there is California plates on the vehicle at this point and also that's it a four-door, not the sport model.

The vehicle was last seen in the area of Auburn and Madison at 8:00 p.m. on Monday. At the time, the suspect was seen with the vehicle, as well as the 3-year-old, Sergey, his son. We had some other information that was received yesterday, most notably the photograph which was, I believe, passed out to everybody. As you know, we found the boy Sergey yesterday afternoon.

Part of our ability to find him came from writings which were found on the back of this photograph, as well as the other photograph, which was released yesterday.

QUESTION: Ron, a point of clarification: Was it Monday evening?

GARVERICK: Monday evening, the suspect was last seen with the little boy Sergey at 8:00 p.m. in the area of Madison and Auburn -- Monday evening at 8:00 p.m.

When the boy was found yesterday, I did the scene. And we'll discuss some of that later. Although the motive is still unclear regarding a lot of these murders, there is information printed on the back, again, of this photo, actually in a numbered sequence. The first number was that of the -- was No. 1. And that would pertain to the wife. And the writing in effect said this was No. 1. And this is for Lyubov, for her speaking or for her tongue.

No. 2 was written. This is for Zoya, again, for her speaking or for her tongue. The significance of that is, Zoya is the mother of Tatyana, the 9-year-old girl that was killed later on Mills Station. Item No. 3, which is listed on the back of the photo, it says for Sergei, and, again, for his tongue. Sergei is the father the little boy Dimitriy, who was also killed at Mills Station.

And the parents, Galina and Petr, the grandparents who were found, were grandparents to the children. The child which was found yesterday is in a remote area of Placer County in the general vicinity of what we had been told to search for. The key piece of information which came out yesterday was the tower. When the search began on Monday night, we didn't see even the tower. I was out there at 2:00 in the morning.

In daylight, you see a microwave tower, which is about 200 feet tall. The body was found in a grassy area just over a half mile in from baseline or south. The boy was found as described in the writings, in a box. It's a 3-year-old boy with blond hair, very similar to what you saw in the pictures released yesterday.

It appears, looking at the evidence at the scene, that a vehicle drove down in that area. There are some barefoot prints from an adult which walk from the vehicle towards the passenger side of the vehicle, we presume. And then the adult footprints walk away from the vehicle, along with some smaller prints. We also found some sandals at the scene which appear to be approximately the same size as the foot impressions. And these would have been from the boy.

The adult footprint, as well as the little sandal, walked from the vehicle towards the grass are where they are lost, while heading in the direction of the box. Another set of footprints -- again, only the adult prints -- are found walking back towards the vehicle from the box.

The child was found in a cardboard container that's about 2 feet by 3 feet. We suspect the container is from the scene. It was not brought there with the suspect. Little Sergey was found in the box, kind of head down. It appears that he received a very serious wound, again, consistent with a knife wound, and, again, all consistent with the other very serious wounds we found on all the other victims so far.

It appeared that perhaps the child may have been violated also. I'm not going speak to that at this point. One thing that was also found in the bottom of the box, there were numerous new toys, as if the father enticed the boy into the box with the toys. These were all recent toys, not old garbage or anything which was found at the scene.

The scene itself is more of a garbage-type dump. There is just a lot of refuse out there. There's no indications by any blood shed that the killing took place anywhere other than inside that box.

That's all we have at this point. If there are any other questions that have been coming up, we've had some questions regarding the language skills of the suspect. Early on, we thought that Nikolay had very limited English skills. Talking to interviews and so forth, we are getting information that he had been attending language classes fairly extensively in the last nine months.

Therefore, his language skills are more likely that he's going to be fairly fluent in English, or at least knows the language well enough to follow directives. We're still coming up with more information regarding some of his interactions with the family. Although the motivation is still not exactly clear, the way the first photograph, which is handed out -- the writings on that indicate that he had some order in which things happened.

And, again, this coincides with the boy being found sometime -- or being found -- or being killed after the time that he was last seen on Monday.

QUESTION: Where did he get the Explorer?

GARVERICK: We don't know. We are unaware of who may be helping him. And we're actually unaware of what his means are at this time.

QUESTION: Did he take the Explorer to the dump where he killed the boy?

GARVERICK: We won't know that exactly for sometime, until we can do some comparison between the wheel base, as well as some of the tire impressions found at the scene.

QUESTION: When do you think he killed the boy?

GARVERICK: Obviously after 8:00 p.m. sometime. There is indication from the body that the boy had been there for several hours.

QUESTION: Detective, just to clarify the writings you're referring to, do you take that to be some sort of, for lack of a better word, hit list that described what he planned to do, how he planned to kill people?

GARVERICK: I don't want to say it's a hit list per se. It does, however, give us some indication that there was some planning involve -- A -- and, B, that he was pretty coherent regarding his thoughts afterwards, if he is able to write them down, who was being targeted for the most part, and also the order, which is all correct.


QUESTION: What are the surveillance videos you have obtained?

GARVERICK: We've got a lot of surveillance videos which are coming in. We live in a video age, thank goodness. And we'll be working on trying to interpret some of those.

The fact that the current vehicle, however, seems to be this Explorer sheds new light. The videotapes that we've been looking at recently all focused on the silver Altima, which was the suspect vehicle the first day.

Now we have got late afternoon the first day, and he switched vehicles. And this is going to give us some effect. So we'll be looking for that in the videotapes that we are going to be looking at.


QUESTION: Can you explain further the car? How do you know he's in this car, who reported it and why you think he's in this car right now?

GARVERICK: We had received some information from somebody who had worked on the vehicle, which we'll keep private. And the person who is familiar with Nikolay -- and when he was shown a photo of Nikolay as well as the little boy, there is no doubt those were the two persons he had seen on Monday evening.

QUESTION: Any indication what might be next?

GARVERICK: No indication so far. And, again, we've, during some of our interviews -- have been showing the note to other family members, trying to get some idea of who else Nikolay may have had problems with and who else maybe we need to protect, or who else -- or a direction for -- of where Nikolay may be going.

And those have all been investigated -- no indications of any concrete area which he may be headed to or any other targets.

QUESTION: Do you know what that message was?


QUESTION: ... may be in danger? Are you seeking to protect any other relatives?

GARVERICK: The immediate relatives who are in Sacramento are under protection, correct, right now.

QUESTION: Do you believe somebody is helping him?

GARVERICK: One of the reasons I wanted to come forward today and give this press announcement is because it's a good possibility that somebody either may be facilitating him in some way -- and by that, I don't mean that somebody is hiding him out. But the mere fact that somebody gives him directions, whether they are English-speaking or Ukrainian, or giving him directions, or just basically being an enabler for him to continue his travels, is what we're looking at.

QUESTION: Do you think he's out of the area, then?


GARVERICK: At this time, we don't know. If he's in a car, he can travel. I don't know if he's out of the area at this point or not.

QUESTION: Detective, again, it appears the young boy was molested. Is that what...

GARVERICK: I'm not going to go into that at this point, OK?

QUESTION: I'm also wondering if you have any idea what that note could have meant. Were there arguments between the family members? What is the family telling you?

GARVERICK: We are getting some information from the family as far as some of the background. This is still in the very, very early stages as far as what his previous behavior may have been before he came to the United States and what his behavior was since he's been in the United States.

When they make reference in the note for somebody talking, they have different family structures than we have here. And his reference to the wife talking could merely have been her explaining marital matters to somebody outside the family. We're really uncertain. Because of the cultural problems, different things mean different things to them as opposed to us.

So the family is helping us getting some of the background. But right now we don't have any other motives to go on.

QUESTION: Does it look like his finances and his inability to find work, was that the source of frustration, maybe, that was leading to trouble in the family? GARVERICK: We have no indications of that so far. For the most part, everybody that we have come in contact with has had some means, whether it's through government funds or otherwise. It doesn't appear that anybody is an absolute destitute at this point, nor does it seem that Nikolay was destitute. He was in a comfortable home with many provisions.



QUESTION: What day did the mechanic work on the Explorer?

GARVERICK: That was Monday at 8:00 p.m.

QUESTION: Can you talk a little bit about those cultural differences and also your dealings with the Russian community, and whether that is making things more difficult or they are helping or how that is playing out?

GARVERICK: The Russian community so far has been very, very helpful. However, a big problem, we have limited Ukrainian speakers as well as Russian speakers. Our department, we're finding out, has a lot more Russian speakers than any of the other agencies in the immediate area, as we are beginning to draw our different resources in.

Some of the cultural differences, I won't understand them this week or next week or years from now. What it means for somebody to talk outside the family is a lot different from what you and I ever experience. And we probably won't know until -- if we can ever sit down with Nikolay and he can maybe can explain some of his motivations, then we will get a better grasp of what drove him.

QUESTION: Detective, obviously, yesterday's discovery, as you guys said, was the end of the last bit of hope you had in this case. How is the emotional side of this taking its toll on your investigators and you in particular?

GARVERICK: As far as our investigators, this is dragging on to the point of exhaustion for many of us, A. But, secondly, with the finding of the boy, we had hoped earlier. And that's one of the reasons we pushed for the photograph to be put out as soon as we can.

We have unseasonably cool weather in California, especially in Sacramento the last two days. If the boy was last seen on Monday at this time, had he just been in the box, say, tied up, because of the ambient temperature being -- Monday, it was approximately 75 degrees and yesterday only in the mid-80s -- there was still a little bit of hope that the boy would still be alive. And that's why we pushed and used the media, as well as had some immediate searches, using the aerial units to try and find the boy perhaps being alive still.

QUESTION: Has there been any promising sightings after 8:00 p.m. on Monday?

GARVERICK: Of the suspect?




QUESTION: Do you believe he is using the same weapon?

GARVERICK: As far as we know, the wounds consistent on the same victim are consistent with the wounds found on Sergey, the little boy.

Again, these are -- these are incised wounds. So we are, again, referring to a knife. So everything seems to be consistent. We have no variation either in the method that the victims were killed or in the methods that he may be using to arm itself.

QUESTION: Can you talk a little about the scope of this search and what's being done outside of this area?

GARVERICK: Up and down California, of course, there's bullets, as well as nationwide bullets. With the revelation of the vehicle now being a possible second vehicle and what he's probably using currently, that, again, will hit our all our law enforcement wires.

And this is what's happening nationwide. Locally, we have members of the FBI, members of the U.S. Marshal's Office, people from our department, as well as some other outside agencies which are actively looking for the suspect and have been for the last two days.

QUESTION: Are you presuming that because he has access to a vehicle now, that he has left the area, or there is a good chance that he has left the area?

GARVERICK: I am not making any presumptions. What I am saying is, he can. OK.

QUESTION: You talked about the Russian-Ukrainian community, working with them. Now, historically, they've been real tight-lipped. And based on where they came from, the government, in their eyes: not to be trusted. How much does that really change?

GARVERICK: How much has it changed or how much has it hampered us?

QUESTION: How much -- you said they are cooperating.

GARVERICK: They are cooperating. Because of the language barrier, and, again, because of these cultural items that you are referring to, it has slowed the investigation down. It slowed it down quite a bit.

QUESTION: So you are having a hard time getting information?

GARVERICK: No. It takes longer. We are getting the information as reliable as we think it's going be. But it's just taking longer than what we anticipated.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) with to the Explorer. It was made at the parking lot where the...


QUESTION: Tell us how he ended up with this thing. Was there a switch made? Or do you know?

GARVERICK: We don't know that. We do know, however, that the sighting where the vehicle was last seen on Monday evening is in very close proximity, within, say, half a mile or so from where the suspect vehicle was found.

QUESTION: You don't know if he actually changed vehicles, if one was -- if the Explorer was there waiting for him or somebody was there waiting for him with it?

GARVERICK: That's unknown. That's unknown.

QUESTION: Was it being worked on that evening or...

GARVERICK: There was some work done to the vehicle on Monday evening at 8:00 p.m.

QUESTION: What was done to it?

QUESTION: What work?

GARVERICK: There was some work, exterior work, as far as a rack on the vehicle. But right now we don't have any information that a luggage rack is on the vehicle.

QUESTION: Any evidence that it's stolen?

GARVERICK: We don't have a license plate yet.

QUESTION: Was this a body -- was this body work, then?

GARVERICK: It was some exterior cosmetic, as far as the rack. But, again, right now, as far as we know, the vehicle does not have a luggage rack on it.

QUESTION: It terms of the list, are you interpreting that to mean that he killed the children as a way of retribution against the parents vs. (OFF-MIKE)

GARVERICK: Obviously, as I explained, Zoya, one of her children were killed. Sergei, one of his children were killed. The grandparents, which are Sergei's parents, and the in-laws of other woman were also killed.


QUESTION: Did he make this list before or after the killings? Do you have any idea? GARVERICK: Obviously afterwards, at least regarding the little boy. And the reason I say that, if the boy is seen Monday at 8:00 p.m. and the killings are earlier, he had to have written it down afterwards.

QUESTION: With all of these clues, do you still think this is still a crime of passion? Do you think that this was done because he was mad and he just went on this rampage, or do you think he really planned everything out?

GARVERICK: I don't want to say that he planned everything out, but this is not a spur of the moment thing. We are talking about going from one end of the county to the other. We are talking about a murder which takes place at 9:00 a.m. in the north area, and then another murder which -- multiple murders which occur in the south area.

And then we've got a vehicle switch, and then we've got a little boy being found the following day, and then we've got somebody's writing different things down so far as how things are progressing. Do you see what I mean?

Although the motive's still unclear, it's not something that helped in two seconds.

Yes, ma'am?

QUESTION: Do you think that he scouted out the area where the boy was dumped?

GARVERICK: That we don't know, and we may never know until we can talk to him.

BLANAS: We are going to cut it off right now. And thank you all for coming. And thank Detective Garverick.

WATERS: We've been hearing from the lead investigator on the Soltys investigation, Ron Garverick, who told us that he and his staff of investigators are exhausted after the last couple of days of trying to prevent any harm coming to the three-year-old, Sergey Soltys, the 3-year-old boy of the man they are searching for, Nikolay Soltys, who still is on the loose. They have no motive.

They are getting a clearer understanding of the pattern of this man since the first murders at the beginning of the week of Soltys' pregnant wife, and the grandparents of the young boy, and a couple of young cousins, nine and ten years old, and some notes left behind. One after the killing of the pregnant wife, for her speaking for her tongue.

After the killing of the three-year-old boy, who was discovered yesterday in a cardboard box in a remote area of Sacramento, a note that said: For Sergei, for his tongue. A rather a astonishingly graphic news conference from Mr. Garverick explaining how the young boy, apparently, was led to the site where his body was found. A set of adult footprints and the small footprints of the boy leading to the cardboard box where the body was found, the adult footprints leaving to the area.

One bit of information about a vehicle switch, you heard him refer to it a couple of times. The man, Nikolay Soltys, was seen with the three-year-old boy on Monday evening at 8:00 p.m. Monday evening, in a Sacramento area, by a witness who says they drove off in a mid- '90s emerald green 4-door Ford Explorer with a silver stripe on it.

The vehicle has Firestone tires and presumably Californian plates. Although, they don't have plate numbers yet. There's no luggage rack on the vehicle. That's the last bit of information they have. They say Soltys could be anywhere, and that it is a nationwide manhunt still under way for this man believed to be responsible for killing six members of his own family.



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