SEATTLE -- The refusal to take a polygraph examination by the mother of a missing 2-year-old "looks suspicious," Bellevue, Wash., police said during a media briefing Wednesday.
Maj. Mike Johnson said police plan to administer polygraph examinations to the people closest to the mother, Julia Biryukova, and those closest to the missing toddler, Sky Metalwala. However, Johnson said Biryukova has refused to take a polygraph examination.
"That looks suspicious, and we're puzzled by that," said Johnson, who added that Biryukova's attorney has said, "Julia is devastated and is in no condition to take a polygraph."
Johnson said the boy's father, Solomon Metalwala, will take a polygraph Wednesday. He said Metalwala, the estranged husband of Biryukova, has thus far "cooperated fully."
Biryukova told police her car ran out of gas while she was driving Sky from their Redmond home to a Bellevue hospital on Sunday morning. She said she walked with her 4-year-old daughter to a gas station about a mile away to retrieve gas, leaving her ill son sleeping in his car seat. When she returned, she said Sky was gone.
Police later said the car started when checked by officers, who did not find a gas can nearby.
Johnson said Biryukova's story is suspicious.
"You're on the way to the hospital, why would you leave your kid in the car? It certainly is suspicious," Johnson said.
While Biryukova owns a cellphone, she told investigators she left the phone inside her purse at her apartment on Sunday morning, he said. A gas station clerk told police he couldn't give Biryukova any gas because she didn't have a container.
Johnson said police also plan Wednesday to "very thoroughly" examine Biryukova's Acura Integra. That will likely include a check of the gas tank to determine whether it ran out of gas or experienced some other problem.
He said if the examination of the Acura contradicts Biryukova's story, police plan to question her.
Biryukova, who hasn't been interviewed by police since Sunday evening, is answering questions through her attorney, Veronica Freitas, Johnson said.
"It's certainly not ideal from a law enforcement perspective, but it's the situation we find ourselves in," Johnson said. " ... She is concerned about protecting her interests; she's hired an attorney, and we're being respectful of that."
On Sunday night, Biryukova drove with detectives along the route she said she took from her apartment to the spot where her Acura broke down, but police haven't found any video evidence of her movements, he said.
He said police also plan to use DNA swabs to eliminate possible suspects. They plan to use the swabs of Biryukova's car and apartment to determine who may have come in contact with Sky.
Johnson said police have a lot of leads to follow, although he added that none of the leads were "hot."
"The people who are closest to Sky and Julia are the people who know what happened to Sky," Johnson said.
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Police have spoken to nearly every resident of Biryukova's sprawling Redmond apartment complex, and one neighbor recalled seeing Sky about two weeks ago, the last reported sighting of the toddler, Johnson said.
"Julia and her children led a very reclusive lifestyle and it was not uncommon for her not to be seen for periods of time," he said.
Meanwhile, a court hearing is under way in Kent to determine temporary placement of Biryukova's 4-year-old daughter, Maile, who was taken into protective custody by Child Protective Services (CPS) on Sunday after her brother went missing.
Attorneys for both the Metawala and Biryukova have asked the court commissioner to place Maile with Metawala or one of his relatives.
However, CPS caseworker Heidi Stull said the agency has concerns about allegations against both parents. She said the agency is also concerned about the child's placement because her brother remains missing.
Stull said CPS officials have learned Biryukova has left her children alone in the past. She also cited the earlier incident in 2009 when the parents left Sky, then 3 months old, alone in their car in a Target store parking lot. The parents were cited for reckless endangerment.
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