Sky’s Father Says Disappearance Linked to Custody Dispute

ABC News

The father of a Washington toddler missing for more than one week said today he believes the boy’s disappearance is related to a court decision granting him visitation rights.

Solomon Metalwala, the father of missing toddler Sky Metalwala, has previously said that he believes his wife Julia Biryukova knows what happened to the 2-year-old boy.

Solomon and Biryukovahave been locked in a bitter divorce during which both sides have accused the other of hurting the children, according to the Associated Press. In the week before Sky disappeared, the parents reached a tentative agreement that would allow Metalwala to have some visitation with the couple’s two children.

But two days later — and two days before she reported her son missing — Biryukova decided to pull out of the agreement, the Associated Press reports. In a letter sent by her attorney, Biryukova insisted that everyone at the mediation session had been against her and the settlement was unfair, according to Metalwala’s divorce attorney, D. Michael Tomkins.


“Sadly to say, yes,” Solomon Metalwala said today when asked on “ Good Morning America” if he believes Sky’s disappearance is related to the custody battle between him and his wife.

“She needs to help and I’m praying that she will,” he said.

“She has had Sky for the last 10 months so I believe that she does know something,” the husband told “GMA.”

Sky Metalwala was last seen Nov. 6 while in the custody of Biryukova.  Biryukova told detectives in Bellevue, Wash., that she was driving her two children, Sky and the couple’s 4-year-old daughter, to Overlake Hospital Medical Center Sunday morning because Sky wasn’t feeling well.

She said she ran out of gas, so she left Sky in the car while she and her 4-year-old daughter walked about a mile away to a gas station. when she returned to her silver Acura SUV, the child was gone, she told police.

A team of more than 150 local and state police and FBI agents have been working on the case for the past week, sorting through leads coming from hundreds of miles away, to no avail.

Metalwala over the weekend recruited volunteers himself to pass out fliers in his own search, and has been talking to the media nearly daily pleading for help.

“I’m very blessed that I live in Washington where people are very nice and very grateful to help me,” he told “GMA.”  “I do believe that my son is coming back home.”

Biryukova has been speaking to police only through a criminal lawyer she hired following her son’s disappearance.  She has not responded to requests to speak to investigators voluntarily, Bellevue police Maj. Mike Johnson said at a news conference on Friday.

Asked for comment by ABC News, Biryukova’s attorney would say only, “My office does not comment about ongoing investigations.”

Metalwala, who has agreed to take two polygraph tests, again today denied he has any involvement in his son’s disappearance.

“I don’t know what happened,” Metalwala said.  “If I knew I wouldn’t be here.”

Biryukova has refused to be tested, telling investigators that she has been too disturbed to participate.

There has not yet been enough evidence to name Biryukova as a suspect, Johnson said, but more discrepancies are appearing in her story.

The car she says ran out of gas ran fine on Friday when police took it for a test drive. No gas was added before the test and no mechanical problem was found during the drive, according to police.

Police also say Biryukova never bought gas at the Northtowne Chevron Service she and her daughter walked to on Sunday but, instead, spent time walking around a wealthy neighborhood where she reportedly didn’t ask anyone for help.

Both Metalwala and Biryukova were cited for reckless endangerment in a December 2009 incident in which a then 3-month-old Sky was left in the family’s SUV in a Target parking lot for 55 minutes on a 27-degree day, court records showed.

The case was dismissed earlier this year after the pair completed a year of probation, 40 hours of community service and a 10-week parenting class.