Ever since his son went missing three years ago, Solomon Metalwala has been on edge.
The 39-year-old Kirkland resident doesn’t know what kind of information is coming around the corner.
“Every call that I get with a number I don’t know, I hope that it’s some kind of clue leading to something,” Metalwala said on Monday morning about his son, Sky, who has been missing since Nov. 6, 2011. Sky was 2 years old at the time.
“Every time, I just imagine where he will be, knowing that he was so young when this happened,” Metalwala continued. “I still believe he’s alive because there’s no proof that he’s not alive. That’s enough proof for me to keep on believing that he’s out there some place.”
Metalwala’s ex-wife Julia Biryukova of Redmond told police her son went missing after her car ran out of gas near the 2400 block of 112th Avenue Northeast in Bellevue. She told police she left Sky in the car sleeping, bundled in a blanket and walked to a nearby gas station with her 4-year-old daughter. When she returned about an hour later, she said Sky was gone.
In November 2011, investigators searched numerous locations, including Marymoor Park near Redmond because of its proximity to the downtown Redmond apartment where the boy lived with his sister and Biryukova.
Metalwala has contended since his son’s disappearance that Biryukova may have turned him over to a friend or family member over concerns she would lose custody of him. Their divorce was finalized in January 2012, with Metalwala receiving custody of their daughter. Biryukova was interviewed by police, but allegedly became uncooperative and stopped speaking with law enforcement.
Metalwala hasn’t seen or spoken to Biryukova for three years.
“Someone told me she’s still in Redmond,” he said. The Reporter couldn’t locate Birykova to comment on Sky’s disappearance.
The Bellevue Police Department (BPD) reported at this same time last year it had exhausted all leads in its search for Sky. Metalwala said police are still investigating the case, but he doesn’t meet with detectives like he frequently did in 2011-2012. If information comes to light, detectives will contact Metalwala, he added.
“Often times, it takes only one witness or key piece of evidence to solve a case,” said BPD officer Seth Tyler in a Nov. 6 news release.
These days, Metalwala said his days are pretty active: he works, spends time with his now-7-year-old daughter and helps run the recently started nonprofit Washington Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
They make the public aware of all the missing people in Washington and they team up with Crime Stoppers and other agencies to promote safety. Metalwala attends events at shopping centers where his nonprofit and other organizations offer information to families and make identification cards for youngsters in case something unfortunate happens.
Jennifer Irish of Lacey, who created the nonprofit with Metalwala, said she provides support for her friend at events (she met Metalwala at an event in 2011). In October, they spent time at Walmarts in Longview and Chehalis and at the Tumwater Fred Meyer and Costco. They plan on holding events at Eastside stores soon, possibly for Missing Children’s Days in May.
“I know it is really difficult for him because he has to relive everything all over again,” said Irish, whose daughter was nearly abducted in 2009. Irish said she often gives Metalwala a break from speaking to others when he’s feeling overwhelmed.
Metalwala said his daughter is like a “life bucket that’s always overflowing with water.” She provides hope and “she’s really wonderful to have in my life,” he added.
Sky is on their minds every day and they talk about him at events they attend or on bike rides.
“We say, ‘How cool would this be if Sky was here?'” said Metalwala, who misses Sky’s hugs, laughter and the happiness he brought them. “Sky, yes, he’s physically not with us, but mentally he always is.”
Metalwala said he trusts in Jesus to give him security and help get him through the last three years.
He offers the following advice to parents: “Try to slow down your life and try to have those precious moments with your kids as much as you can because — poof — your life can be upside down.”
When Irish visits with Metalwala, she can tell he’s optimistic that Sky will be found.
“It’s a matter of when,” she said.
If anyone has information regarding this case, the BPD asks they email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (425) 577-5656.
Brandon Macz of the Bellevue Reporter contributed to this report.