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Authorities Came Together to Capture Soltys

Aired August 30, 2001 - 14:04   ET


LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: It's all live today about the capture of Nikolay Soltys, the second FBI 10 most wanted suspect to be captured in a week's time. He's in custody in Sacramento this afternoon.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: And no doubt cause for sighs of relief for people in the Sacramento area and the Ukrainian community in specific. The international manhunt for suspected murderer Nikolay Soltys is over. The 27-year-old Ukrainian immigrant was arrested in the backyard of his mother's home in suburban Sacramento, California about two hours ago. The sheriff says authorities were tipped off by Soltys' brother, who called 911.

Soltys is accused of killing six family members, including his pregnant wife and 3-year-old son in a rampage that began last Monday. In a news conference just moments ago, one of the arresting officers talked about how Soltys was caught.


DETECTIVE CHRIS JOACHIM, ARRESTING OFFICER: We observed the family leave the residence in a very hurried fashion, and we began to follow them. Shortly after that we saw them arrive to a store, and the suspect's brother entered the store. And we realized that he had called 911 reporting that the suspect was underneath a desk in the backyard of the residence we were watching.

Somehow the suspect had arrived in the backyard of that residence on foot undetected in the cover of darkness while we were watching the residence in the area. The patrolman assigned to the area did a fantastic job of immediately setting an outer perimeter so the suspect wouldn't escape, allowing Sergeant Brown's team and my team to do as we planned. And that was, if he arrived at that residence, to hit it and effect an arrest as immediately, or as fast as possible.

So, under direction of Sergeant Lancaster (ph), we had two teams converge on the residence from two different directions. We quietly approached, and we couldn't see a desk in the backyard at first. Eventually some of my partners were able to peer through the fence and find a desk just inside the gate to the residence, just outside a sliding glass door next to an inoperable refrigerator.

As we maneuvered to enter this gate, several of us could see the suspect's feet. He was maybe curled or lying on the ground as if he had been resting or laying in wait in that location. As he heard us he sprang to his feet and appeared as though he was going to run. But the inoperable refrigerator's door was open, blocking his exit.

We entered the gate. It was a very confined area. We were able to grab him. And he thrust his hands in the air as soon as I entered the gate. So I immediately saw he wasn't armed. I secured my weapon, was able to grab him, extricate him from that little, small area and Sergeant Brown was able to handcuff him, along with the assistance of several of our partners right outside that gate area. And we brought the family back to the scene, who positively identified him.

WATERS: We have been talking about the Soltys arrest and the investigation with former FBI investigator Bill Daley, who's still in New York with us. His company, Control Risks Group is a leading international business risk consultancy.

It sounded, for all the cooperation we know, the value of that -- 12 agencies, in all I counted. It got right down to good, old- fashioned police work, didn't it?


And you know what's interesting and, I think, one of the key notes on what was said during this press conference is that the pressure -- the pressure of the police work, the pressure of the media, the pressure of the community drove him to ground which, in layman's terms means that it didn't give him the ability to be able to skip out of the state, out of the country, hop on a jetliner and leave.

So the pressure, and the agencies working together kept him in that area which eventually, out of pressure, forced him to do something which gave himself up. So I think that's kind of a key note that we picked up.

WATERS: Yes, and part of the pressure, of course, is being on the FBI's 10 most wanted list. We heard the sheriff explain to us how the man at that press conference, Richard Baker was instrumental in quickly getting Soltys on the FBI's 10 most wanted list.

What is the process there? How difficult is it, getting someone on the 10 most wanted list?

DALEY: Well usually, Lou, what the process is is that it goes through FBI headquarters. And there's various review levels. You know, recommendations are made when there's an opening on the FBI's 10 most wanted list by the field officers. And it goes down for review and to see which individual might pose the most danger to the population. And from that standpoint a decision is made.

I would think, on this case, because of the need to bring this to a high level of attention, that putting him on the FBI's 10 most wanted list gave it, certainly, the protection of him going internationally. He's now an international fugitive. He's on the 10 most wanted list; he could easily be picked up.

And also the fact that the FBI itself, by putting him on the 10 most wanted list combines the reward money that was out there and makes him a very noteworthy and significant criminal.

WATERS: So if the FBI's on the case, that's one thing. If the FBI's on the case with the 10 most wanted thing, that's another thing?

DALEY: That's exactly right. The FBI's 10 most wanted list was developed to bring the public's attention to criminals who are out there who we need help in capturing. So although the FBI works diligently on catching all the criminals they can, when they go on the FBI's 10 most wanted list, it's also appealing out to the public to say, this is somebody who is very important to be on the lookout for, and it raises that whole level of attention. And in this case all those things came together and worked.

WATERS: We talked about all the things that came together on this case earlier. I want to accept on behalf of all media the congratulations from just about every agency. I don't believe I ever heard so many kudos for media.

We know about the positives. What -- are there negatives here for law enforcement, when there's so much media pressure, is this -- create an added burden on authorities in their investigation and manhunt?

DALEY: You know, Lou, it's kind of a bittersweet pill because, you know, in this case it worked well, and in a number of cases it does work well to get the attention and the public looking at these fugitives. But on the other hand, continued pressure and when prolonged periods go on where there's no movement, it starts to suggest that the police aren't able to do job, that they're failing in some way.

And in a way it's unfortunate because we've all gotten in the mindset, as we mentioned earlier today, is that, you know, for some reason these should be like 60 minutes dramas, where we find the criminal and we prosecute him.

Well, in real life that's not the case. And sometimes cases go on for periods of time. I think this case taking 10 days was certainly a reasonable amount of time and I think very good police work brought it to closure.

WATERS: Yes. It wasn't 60 minutes, but 10 days really isn't a long time when you think about what police were up against here.

DALEY: Exactly. There's -- you know, they were up against several factors. One was the case that they were concerned the community itself may be reluctant to come forward. They were concerned that this individual may have gotten on the road and was far gone out of the area.

And by using these resources of different agencies, much like Marshal Service, who have experience in tracking down fugitives, they know what to look for, they know the psyche, they have -- can put together a profile as to where the person may go or what they may do.

So you're fortunate when your able to pull together a group of agencies that can each contribute their own and also lift the burden off the day-to-day law enforcement operations that police agencies need to conduct to keep the rest of their local society intact.

WATERS: Yes, thanks.

Bill Daley in New York.

Still unanswered though are the questions about where did Nikolay Soltys spend time in the 10 days he was on the lose. The sheriff told us they're still investigating that. They're looking into the matter of a knife found in the backpack in the backyard of the mother's house when Nikolay Soltys was arrested.

We should know more about that and also the 911 call tape, they're trying to get that to us.

So there's a lot move to cover in this story.



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