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More than 60 attend vigil for Sky Metalwala Sunday night at Kirkland's Heritage Park
Music filled Heritage Park in Kirkland Sunday night as the sun drifted behind the Seattle skyline in the distance.
More than 60 people were on hand for “A Night for Sky” to pray for the safe return of now three-year-old Sky Metalwala and lend support to the boy’s father Solomon Metalwala. But the calm scene, on the six-month anniversary of his disappearance, was in stark contrast to the anxiety that his father and family has faced.
“We need to keep the story alive,” said Jesse Mayor, a friend of Solomon who is the administrator of the Find Sky Facebook page. “I know that this event is going to keep it in front of people. Everyone has a reach and we need to get everyone to see Sky’s face.”
The event was organized by City Church of Kirkland and Belltown, in Seattle, of which Solomon is a devout member.
The cause has been relatively quiet since the last candle-light vigil, which took place in downtown Bellevue on Feb. 18, other than a few media interviews. That vigil also had around 60 people attend but was organized by the group Search and Seek.
“I needed to kind of regroup and focus on both of us,” said Solomon referring to his 5-year-old daughter Maile of whom he has gained full custody. “She is a little girl and she has been through a lot. I had to become a dad again.”
Solomon said that his daughter has started preschool and is “very stable,” living in Kirkland.
His attorney Clay Terry, who has been at Solomon’s side for most of the past six months, said that Maile has had to be reintroduced to the Metalwalas. But getting to know her family on her father’s side was not the only thing the little girl has had to relearn. Terry and Solomon said that Maile was severely underweight and was not in good condition when she was turned over to CPS.
“This little girl was told to walk in circles in her room for exercise because her mother would not take her outside,” said Terry.
But the attorney said that the vigil is also good for Solomon.
“We knew we had to do something because Solomon was getting depressed,” said Terry. “He is not a guy that gets depressed.”
Solomon said that he has gained strength from his faith and the people around him.
“Without family and friends how can you live a normal life?” asked Solomon, who has also gone back to school for accounting. “You can’t do it without a church.”
Sky allegedly went missing in November while in the custody of his mother, Redmond resident Julia Biryukova, who has not talked to media or the police about the disappearance. She and Solomon had been in the midst of a bitter divorce and custody battle for their two children.
Biryukova told police her car ran out of gas the morning of the disappearance, as she attempted to take the boy to the hospital. She left the boy in the unlocked car at the 2400 block of 112th Avenue Northeast while she walked with Maile to get help.
When she returned to the car, approximately an hour later, he was gone, according to Biryukova. Police later tested the car and found that it had gas and there were no mechanical issues.
The Bellevue Police Department are continuing to investigate the case."There is still no releasable information from the detectives," said Bellevue Police Department spokesperson Carla Iafrante. "It is still a very active missing child case and are hoping for the safe return of Sky."
Solomon addressed his family, friends and media in attendance on Sunday and told them the Sunday morning Sky went missing was like any other. He got up, got dressed and got ready to go to church, when police arrived at his home in Kirkland. The police told Solomon that Sky was missing and asked if the boy was in the house.
“I said if he was here he wouldn’t be missing,” said Solomon, who only had 20 minutes to process what was happening before going to the Bellevue Police Department. “I was shaking. I didn’t know what was going on.”
Solomon said that he is also doing everything he can to find Sky for his sister. He said he wants Maile to know he did everything he could to find her brother.
That internet footprint is becoming very large, as Solomon has done nearly 140 media interviews.
Mayor asked everyone in attendance to get involved with the search’s social media campaign.
“Every person here can reach 500 people and altogether can reach 30,000,” said Mayor. “Every person can help get the word out … There is someone out there who doesn’t know what they know, who has seen him every day and doesn’t know he is missing.”
Those who spoke gave Solomon high praise for his faith, hope and resolve.
Solomon’s friends from City Church, Peter Denton and Dana Pierce, led the group in spiritual song and prayer. Candles were passed out to the small crowd as the sun disappeared.
Both Solomon and Terry won’t speculate on the well-being of Sky, but they both insist that Biryukova knows something and may hold the key.
“She is taking advice from her lawyer,” said Solomon, who has called his now ex-wife a coward. “I don’t get it.”
Terry said that she is hiding behind the fifth amendment: “It is selfish and a short-term fix.”
Solomon said that he is trying to not get angry.
“I am more focused on getting Sky justice,” said Solomon.
Anyone with information on the case is urged to call the Bellevue Police tip line at 425-577-5656 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.