Sky Elijah Metalwala Disappearance, Mother’s Strange Story

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Bellevue, WA , where Sky lived with his mother and sister before he vanished in 2011.
Spicypepper999, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bellevue, Washington, is the state’s fifth-largest city and the third-largest city in the Seattle metropolitan area, with an estimated population of 145,300 as of 2019. According to Bellevue.gov, the city is the “high-tech and retail center of the Eastside, with more than 150,000 jobs and a downtown skyline of gleaming high-rises.” 

Who is Julie V. Biryukova?

Julia V. Biryukova was born in Soviet Ukraine on March 10, 1981. She later claimed that her parents were physically abusive and ruled with an iron fist. According to Danielle Renda of True Crime Beat, “Julia underwent a series of electroconvulsive treatment therapies to curb her behavior, not necessarily to help with mental illness. She was often physically disciplined and frequently told she was wrong.”

In 1994, Julia and her mother, Nadia Biryukova, emigrated to Bellevue. Julia was estranged from her father at the time.

Nadia, a now-retired successful financial controller and Donetsk State University of Economics and Trade graduate, did not learn English until 1996 when she enrolled in Bellevue College. There, she completed an associate degree in Arts and Sciences with an emphasis in Accounting, according to her LinkedIn profile.

At 15, Julia met Solomon Metalwala, then 21, at an area gas station. He invited her to a party, and the two began dating even though she was underage. Solomon and his family relocated to the U.S. from Pakistan. His parents owned King Street Kafé in Pioneer Square, Seattle, and Solomon ran the business. Julia worked there as a waitress through high school, graduating in 1999.

Around this time, the couple purchased a Bellevue condominium and moved in together. 

Financial and Relationship Problems

From 1999 to early 2003, the couple’s relationship severely declined. Julia and Solomon had numerous heated arguments but remained committed to one another, marrying in February 2003.

Raised Muslim, Solomon converted to Christianity in 2005 to save his failing marriage. His parents opposed it, which caused problems with their daughter-in-law.

Then, the financial trouble began after a competitor opened a deli across the street from Solomon’s restaurant, which monetarily hurt the business and pushed the Metalwalas into economic hardship.

Subsequently, Julia gave birth to the couple’s first child, a daughter, Maile Metalwala, in December 2006. Despite their worsening financial circumstances, the Metalwalas moved out of the condo and purchased a nearly $900,000 home in Kirkland’s South Rose Hill neighborhood.

Renda writes, “They were still responsible for the mortgage payments on their condo. Needless to say, the family accrued a lot of debt in a short period of time.”

Julia later told the courts that she did not learn the severity of their financial problems until they were six months behind on payments; Solomon decided to withhold this information from her, further dividing the couple.

Then, another child came, and their life changed in ways Solomon never imagined. 

Birth of Sky Metalwala and More Trouble

Sky Elijah Metalwala was born on September 6, 2009. Three months later, police cited the Metalwalas for reckless endangerment after leaving Sky unattended in their Cadillac Escalade on a 27-degree day while shopping at Target. They claimed they were only inside the store for about 20 minutes. However, police viewed the store’s video footage, showing the couple had left Sky alone for 55 minutes while they shopped.

The couple agreed to one year’s probation, parenting classes, and community service, which they fulfilled, and the case was dismissed.

Julia and Solomon’s marriage significantly crumbled after Sky’s birth. Unsurprisingly, Solomon filed for divorce in March 2010. The divorce proceedings became nasty, with accusations flying all over the place.

Soloman told the court that Julia had suffered years of mental illness that caused her to neglect herself and the children and required hospitalization in three psychiatric facilities.

Julia accused Solomon of verbal and physical abuse against her and the children and of having an anger problem. Her abuse claims were later ruled unfounded.

In September 2010, the judge granted full custody of the children to Julia and forbade Solomon from visitation for whatever reasons. But Solomon was undeterred and continued fighting for his children.

Ultimately, the court ordered them to attend a mediation session in November 2011. The couple agreed that Julia would retain full custody of the children and Solomon would have visitation. Later, the court discovered Julia had left the children alone for 11 hours while she attended the mediation.

But Julia was not happy about the agreement. Two days later, she contacted her attorney, who wrote a letter to the court stating that “everyone at the mediation session had been against her and the settlement was unfair,” ABC reported. A judge revoked the agreement for whatever reason, preventing Solomon from seeing the children.

Three days later, unimaginable tragedy.  

Disappearance of Sky Metalwala

Sky Metalwala, 2, disappeared on November 6, 2011, and Julia gave one hell of an unbelievable story to the police.

She claimed Sky became sick, so she drove him and Maile, 4, to Overlake Hospital Medical Center in a silver 1998 Acura owned by her brother. Along the way, the car ran out of gas near I-405, in the 2600 block of 112th Avenue Northeast.

Julia conveniently did not have her cell phone with her. Instead of taking both children, as most parents would, Julia grabbed Maile and left Sky strapped in his car seat. Julia and Maile supposedly walked to Northtowne Chevron Service gas station at 2626 Bellevue Way NE for help, leaving the vehicle unlocked. The walk would have taken at least 20 minutes, likely longer with a child.

When Julia arrived at the station, she did not purchase gas; she phoned a friend. An hour after she allegedly left Sky alone in the vehicle, the friend dropped her off at the car, but Sky was gone. Who is the friend, and why did it take an hour to return to the car?

Julia used her friend’s phone to call the police at 9:50 a.m. to report Sky missing. 

Investigation

Sky Elijah Metalwala's mother, Julia Biryukova,captured on CCTV footage in 2011
Julia Biryukova c. 2011

When police arrived at the scene, they immediately noticed a few suspicious things. Julia did not have a gas can, purse, or cell phone. Authorities also discovered the Acura had plenty of gas and no mechanical issues. 

Witnesses told the police they saw the car between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., but no child was inside. It is unclear whether anyone saw Julia and Maile walking to the gas station. An extensive search of the area produced no clues to Sky’s whereabouts. 

Julia immediately lawyered up and refused to speak directly to investigators. However, Solomon and other family members cooperated, and Solomon became active in the search for his son, unlike Julia, who did not participate.

At the time of Sky’s disappearance, Solomon had not seen his children for almost a year because of the court order forbidding him visitation rights. I wonder how that judge felt after Sky disappeared. 

According to The Charley Project, investigators discovered Julia was the only person to have seen Sky for at least two weeks before he vanished. However, she occasionally isolated herself in her home with Maile and Sky for extended periods.

Theories Regarding Sky Metalwala

There is little doubt of Julia’s involvement in Sky’s disappearance. There are three theories as to what happened.

One theory is based on the fact that none of Sky’s family members had seen the boy for at least two weeks before his disappearance—except for Julia. Sky may have died or was killed before November 6, 2011, accidentally or intentionally, and Julia concealed his body.

Solomon says Julia’s estranged father in Ukraine visited Washington in April 2011. Solomon wondered if his former father-in-law possibly took Sky back to his home country. He told KOMO-TV in 2012 that Julia had emailed Solomon requesting permission to take the children to Ukraine.

“Julia wanted to take the kids to Russia,” Solomon said. “I’m going to believe he’s alive. I have to because there’s no signs telling me he’s not, so I’m going to choose that he’s alive.”

A third theory reported by Renda involves NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” Solomon said Julia loved the show and often watched it. On October 11, 2011, the episode “Missing Pieces” aired in which a young couple claimed someone kidnapped their son when their parked car was stolen on Halloween. 

Per IMDB:

When a baby of a couple from out of town goes missing, the team tries to find him. But they later focus on the parents because their story doesn’t add up. They find evidence that leads them to think the baby died and the parents brought it to New York to dispose of the body.

ALAN MORGAN

Julia Biryukova's husband, Alan Morgan

Even though Julia had previously claimed Solomon had abused her, she later met and married a man far worse.

Julia still lives in the Bellevue area. She met Alan Morgan through a dating website, www.seeking.com (formerly www.seekingarrangement.com), where she pursued wealthy men willing and able to financially support her during a possible relationship. 

Per ABC News, “Seekingarrangement.com claimed to connect “modern sugar daddies” with “goal seeking sugar babies” for the purpose of forming a “mutually beneficial relationship.”

Julie went by her initials, JB, on the site. She listed on her dating profile that she sought “a successful mentor” for “financial stability and assistance,” who was a “REAL man.” She also asked for 3,001 – 5,000 USD monthly.

Alan has an extensive criminal history, including but not limited to assault and battery, child abuse, and domestic violence, Renda reported.

Like a fool, Julia fell utterly in love with this sometimes homeless man. In December 2014, she and Alan married. But her happiness was short-lived, unsurprisingly. That same month, she reported her new husband to the police for allegedly assaulting her. A judge granted Julia a no-contact order, but the fool continued visiting Alan in jail. 

Make that make sense.

While Alan was locked up, Julia gave birth to their child, Elijah James Morgan, on July 10, 2015. 

Almost immediately, the Washington Department of Social and Health Services declared Julia an unfit parent, removed the child from Julia’s care and placed him with Nadia. That would have been fine, but Julia had LIVED with her mother since Elijah’s birth. Apparently, the courts were okay with the living arrangements, according to Renda.

Sky Elijah Metalwala's mother, Julia Biryukova, in a 2019 news photo
Julia Biryukova in 2019 (Photo credit: King5 News)

In February 2019, Julia returned to a Redmond court after accusing Alan of violating a no-contact order.  

She was argumentative at times during her roughly two hours on the stand and seemed foggy on details regarding the alleged no-contact violation. At one point, the district judge warned her and an attorney of contempt of court. But after cooler heads prevailed, Biryukova did make an admission when asked if she was not allowed to be alone with her son without a monitor. “Correct,” she said sheepishly.

Chris Daniels, King5 News

The drama continued with Julia. She ended up having sticky fingers and was expected back in a courtroom in November 2021 for third-degree theft and stealing clothes from a Costco in June of that year. Julia failed to appear during a ZOOM call.

Regarding her son’s disappearance, Belleville Police Department Major Debbie Christofferson said, “We have asked Julia to come forward and talk to us, provide us with any information that she has. She has not cooperated with us,” 

BPD released an age-progression sketch of Sky to commemorate the 10th anniversary of his disappearance. The department said it is still waiting for critical evidence to crack the case, Daniels reported. 

“We have spent over $2 million on this case. We have investigated over 2,500 tips, and we have spent over 14,000 hours on this,” Christofferson said.

AFTERMATH 

Immediately after Sky disappeared, authorities temporarily placed Maile into protective custody and a foster home. She could not provide valuable statements to detectives because of her age, saying only that her brother had been in the car that day. Solomon was ultimately awarded custody of Maile.

Nadia publicly disapproved of Solomon getting custody of Maile. In a 2011 article, Daniels asked Nadia to comment on the decision. 

Nadia replied in an email:

I’m not exactly sure how to react to the decision. On one hand, I would like to be happy that Maile will be with one of her parents; on the other hand, I feel somewhat uneasy about the father. On one hand, I used to know Solomon as caring and loving husband and father; on the other hand, there is something pretty mysterious and questionable about him.

Nadia also believed it was in Maile’s best interest to stay with a decent foster family and temporarily have visitations with both parents. It is unclear if Nadia was involved in her grandson’s disappearance, but she likely knows something.

Sky Metalwala remains missing. Julia and Solomon’s divorce was finalized in January 2012. Solomon still resides in Bellevue and continues seeking answers to his son’s disappearance.

About Me

True Crime Diva

True Crime Diva

I've blogged true crime since 2010, happily taking up only a tiny corner of the internet. I'm not here for attention; I'm here to tell you their stories.

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