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Murder Suspect Nikolay Soltys in Custody

Aired August 30, 2001 - 11:39   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: I am getting word here at CNN that murder suspect Nikolay Soltys is in custody. For more on this, let's go to reporter Nicole Swanson in Sacramento -- Nicole.

NICOLE SWANSON, REPORTER: Hi, good morning.

KAGAN: What can you tell us? Have police or sheriff deputies apprehended Nikolay Soltys?

SWANSON: Yes, I just got confirmation from sheriff's Captain John McGinnis (ph) that they do have in custody in a neighborhood just north of Sacramento, in Citrus Heights.

KAGAN: Is that part of the large Ukrainian community that we have heard about?

SWANSON: Yes, it sound like the relatives gave a tip to the sheriff's department that lead to the capture of him. He' in the back of the patrol car says we speak.

KAGAN: Do we been the apprehension? Was it violent, or did he fight against sheriff's deputies?

SWANSON: Well, we heard across the scanner. They did set up a perimeter around the area, so they were cordoning it off, trying to keep, you know, people out of area, and it sounds like they got a tip from relatives and they went in, and they arrested him at a house on Bottom Circle, just north of Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights.

KAGAN: And for the folks who don't know the Sacramento area, can you tell us anything more about Citrus Heights?

SWANSON: Citrus Heights is, actually it's halfway between where the first homicide was committed in North Highlands, and the second homicide in Rancho Cordova. I believe that's the area where his mother lives.

KAGAN: And is it close to where he was living with his wife?

SWANSON: You know what, no it wasn't. That was is North Highlands. It's probably about a 10-minute drive. It's literally halfway between where the first homicide and then the four other people were killed. So it is a pretty populated area of Sacramento County. It's in the sheriff's jurisdiction. So they are on scene and watching. The helicopter stuff on other station's right here. They've got about 30 cop -- 30 sheriff's cars in the area, and it looks like they have it pretty under control.

KAGAN: But he is in custody, as far as you know?

SWANSON: He is in custody. The sheriffs...

KAGAN: Nicole Swanson, thank you very much.

SWANSON: You are welcome.

KAGAN: Once again, getting word that murder suspect Nikolay Soltys is in custody.

With more on that, here is Leon.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, as matter of fact we had a shot a second ago of a car that, we are being told by our affiliate at KCRA whose pictures we are about to show you right now, that Soltys may actually be in the car you see, the police squad car you see there.

Let's listen into KCRA's live coverage.

KEVIN RIGGS, KCRA ANCHOR: (OFF-MIKE) probably would have fled the area. It would be truly an amazing area if in fact he stayed in this area all that time.

MARY STRONG, KCRA ANCHOR: That's right. And as Kevin mentioned, I mean Soltys is accused of murdering six of his family members about a week ago on Monday, if you remember. He also killed his pregnant wife and his 3-year-old son.

He is considered a mass murderer, and as Kevin mentioned, he was on the top 10 of the FBI's most wanted list. He's been on the run ever since, and it's been just an all-out manhunt to find this guy.

And apparently the reward for turning him was about $120,000. Governor Gray Davis, he upped that just to make sure we got this man in custody.

RIGGS: It had gone up tremendously. And of course the other interesting point here is, and the sheriff himself, Lou Blanas, Sheriff Lou Blanas of Sacramento County had warned following this crime that anyone who knew Nikolay Soltys, including family members, were at risk of becoming his next victims.

So you have to wonder at this point if that didn't play into all of this. If, if fact, Soltys didn't show up at his mother's house, and if in fact she took that warning to heart, if she was worried about her own personal safety and then called law enforcement.

That could very well have proven to be the break that law enforcement had been hoping for. STRONG: And apparently, law enforcement have taken actually a couple of days off, because it just played such a heavy toll on everyone, especially those law enforcement officers who have children. To discover Nikolay Soltys' 3-year-old son in that box near that dump site was just devastating for a lot of people in the community, a lot of law enforcement who had to witness that.

And the Ukrainian-Russian community, they had been even scared to come out of their homes. Their children, they don't want them outside on the street. They have been keeping them inside their homes. It's just amazing how much of an effect these murders and this man has had on the entire community in this area.

RIGGS: You mentioned the impact that this has had on the community. We covered last Sunday's funeral for some of the murder victims, and a two-hour service, in fact, on Sunday with both Russian and Ukrainian folks in attendance, and English translation. A huge community in area.

We understand that the Russian-Ukrainian community in the Sacramento area may be as much as 75,000 people. So a lot of people affected by this who knew some of the victims, and who may have been acquainted with Soltys as well.

STRONG: And at least a dozen of Soltys relatives are under police protection in the Sacramento area right now.

The search expanded last week to Russian-Ukrainian communities in San Francisco, and even in Oregon. And police were paying special attention to Seattle and Charlotte, North Carolina, as well as New York where Soltys had once lived.

But unbelievably, he was found today right here in Citrus Heights.

RIGGS: In fact, Mary, we can confirm that that patrol car that you are looking at right there, patrol car 013, the white car in the center of your screen, that is where Nikolay Soltys is being held, even as we speak. He is in the back of that patrol car as a result of his arrest this morning.

Apparently, from what we understand, and we have to confirm that, but we are told that the arrest did take place just outside his mother's home, not far from Sunrise Mall in the Bird Cage walk area.

Nikolay Soltys, obviously, wanted nationwide, top of the FBI 10 most wanted list, now in custody. Again, in the back of that patrol car that you see right there on your screen.

STRONG: Also, John Hamilton, the live cop before you, mentioned a few moments ago that he heard from a second party, this is not confirmed, that his mother possibly called this in and said that he was there.

Right now, we do have Lou Blanas on the phone for us to talk about this case and what exactly happened. (CROSSTALK)

Lou, can you hear us?

RIGGS: Sheriff Blanas?

LOU BLANAS, SHERIFF, SACRAMENTO COUNTRY: Yes.

RIGGS: Can you -- This is Kevin Riggs. Can you give us some idea how Mr. Soltys was taken into custody this morning?

BLANAS: Kevin, we've had 24 hour surveillance on all the primary houses involved in this case, subsequently the one here on Bonham out in Citrus Heights. And our narcotics officers, our surveillance officers observed the mother leave, and move in and checked the house, and found the individual hiding in the backyard under a desk.

RIGGS: Was there some indication that he had been staying there for some time?

BLANAS: We continue -- no. There's no indication he's been staying here for some time, because we have continually checked the house. As I said, we have had a 24-hour surveillance set up on the house for a number of days. So, somehow he got into the rear yard of the house. It appears that he's pretty shabbily dressed, dirty, barefoot, conceivably could have been living anywhere, in a field around here or anywhere like that. It doesn't look like he's well- kept or been staying in somebody's house.

RIGGS: So, this wasn't the case, sheriff, where a family member turned him in?

BLANAS: Well, we're not sure of that because the mother left and we're still interviewing the mother. And I just got here on the scene. So I'm sure that as time goes on, we will get a lot more details on exactly how the capture took place.

But the bottom line is that we've had a continuous surveillance set up on all of these houses.

Hello?

STRONG: Sheriff Blanas, can you tell us, did he try to put up a fight when you came in?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still? Dangit!

RIGGS: Sheriff? Sheriff Blanas?

BLANAS: No, as soon as we approached him he -- he -- we pulled him out from under the desk, and he didn't try to run or fight. It was not combative at all.

RIGGS: Sheriff, give us some idea of the sense of relief that your deputies and detectives must be feeling right now, as well as the Ukrainian community.

BLANAS: Well, you know, the sense of relief is that I really feel that no one was harboring. Looking at the way he was dressed, there's no other people involved in this. It doesn't appear at this point, just by our observation, that there was anybody from any community harboring this fugitive.

And obviously, the satisfaction that he hadn't killed -- it appears that nobody else is injured or been murdered by this individual. There's a lot of satisfaction.

And then the bottom line is the murders were committed in Sacramento County. The Sacramento Sheriff's Department has been investigating this since day one, along with other agencies. I've got to tell you, part of the arrest team that were on the house were made up of Sacramento sheriff deputies, Sacramento police officer, highway patrol, U.S. (AUDIO GAP) FBI. So, it's a joint effort.

All of these agencies have worked pretty hard, and the satisfaction is we've arrested him. He didn't leave Sacramento. We were able to arrest him.

RIGGS: In fact, sheriff, I was going to say obviously you still have to wrap up a lot of these details, because this is unfolding. But it does appear from his appearance that, from what you can tell, he probably never did leave the Sacramento area.

Does that surprise you?

BLANAS: No, because we believe that he was still here because we never had any actual sightings that we could really verify outside the Sacramento area. And what I mean by -- we had a number of sightings and we tried to get other agencies, which were very helpful, throughout the nation to help us track those sightings down. But really not one of those sightings that a person called up and says, hey I just left the room. He was there. I know it's him. I know him, I'm a friend of his, and it's definitely him. We never had that type of information.

Just last night, we had -- we believed that we had him on another residence out in the north area, and subsequently checked the house, and it wasn't his.

But anyway, we're going to have a press conference, I think, at 10:00. So we should know more details at that time. At our Rockingham station out in Rancho Marietta, or Rancho Cordova near the place of the homicides on that station.

STRONG: Sheriff Blanas, you mentioned that the mother was seen leaving the home, and then you went in and actually found Nikolay Soltys. Was she aware that he was inside, or did she not know he was even in the backyard?

BLANAS: Well, we are still sorting that out. And I am sure by 10:00 I will have all of that information. RIGGS: Sheriff, I appreciate your patience on this, because obviously this scene is unfolding, even as we speak. And I know that you will have more information a little bit later.

But for the benefit of viewers who are just now tuning in, could you reiterate for us, a little bit, the circumstances under which he was found? He was found in the backyard his mother's home.

BLANAS: A short time ago, officers who were surveilling the house went into the backyard and arrested Nikolay Soltys, who was hiding under a desk in the rear yard.

And we have him in custody, sitting a few feet away from me in a squad car.

And you know, just one last thing before I hang up, I can't say enough about the allied agencies. And I really can't say enough about the media coverage on this. I really want to thank the way the media has covered this whole thing, and getting the word out; and really it showed me that this person had no place to go except hide in a field or anywhere he could, not with a friend.

And it shows a lot for the Sacramento community to step up. And actually, the Ukrainian community, we've received a number of phone calls from them. We've had interpreters on the phone on sightings of this individual.

So I just want to thank everybody. It's a joint effort. We have this mass murderer off the streets at this point. He's been positively identified by his brother as being the suspect.

So, thank you very much, and we'll see you at 10:00.

HARRIS: And if you've been listening in and you've been watching -- we've been listening in to police officers there in Sacramento, California who are speaking with the local press there, friends at KCRA talking about what, exactly, has happened.

We understand that Soltys is in the vehicle. If he raises his head here, we believe this may be him you see standing next to the door in the in the blue shirt. He's being turned around. It looks like there's yellow writing on the front of that shirt. It does look -- he does appear as if he is handcuffed. Let's keep an eye on -- let's see if we can raise up the volume on the KCRA feed and listen in and see if they can hear what's going on from that reporter on the ground there.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: ... the sheriff said that he was barefoot, that he was dirty, that appeared to be shabbily dressed. That it didn't look like anyone had, in fact, been taking care of him at all.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And apparently this is his mother's house. And officers have been watching this home as well as other homes very carefully. This home has been under 24-hour surveillance. And apparently his mother left the home this morning. They went in to check it out, to see if he was inside, and they did, in fact, find him in the backyard hiding under a desk.

Sheriff Blanas (ph) said that he did not put up a fight; he...

HARRIS: There we go there. That was Nikolay Soltys, I should say. You can see there, the officers appear to be checking him out for whatever reason before putting him back into the vehicle there. This story that...

KAGAN: The sheriff described that when they found him, he was not in the best of shape.

HARRIS: Well, that's what they were saying. As a matter of fact, that's what the local reporters were saying -- they were saying that the officers were convinced that he was not being harbored by anyone in the neighborhood or his mother, specifically, because he was in such terrible condition. They say he looked rather raggedy by looking at his clothing and at his appearance, as they put it.

Now, the house -- just to recap for you, if you just happen to be tuning in right now. What you're looking at is a live picture of a squad car outside of the home of the mother of Nikolay Soltys. Her -- his mother apparently left the house a while ago, I guess moment ago this morning, and when she left narcotics officers went into the house and searched the grounds and found Nikolay Soltys hiding under a desk in the backyard.

Now, Nikolay Soltys, if you can recall, is the man who has been under -- who has been the subject of a manhunt for weeks now, after having killed his 3-year-old son and, was it five other members of the family?

KAGAN: Yes, I guess we should put "allegedly" in there.

HARRIS: Yes, exactly. So they finally found him, and they have been looking for him for the longest. And while they were looking for him, they also had a number of the members of his family under protective custody, as well as some other people within that Russian- Ukrainian community there in Sacramento, California.

KAGAN: It's been quite the law enforcement operation. As we also heard, they've had a number of homes under surveillance, including this home, where he was eventually found. And we should also mention that he's been on the FBI's 10 most wanted list for some time now.

HARRIS: Now as I understand it -- I also heard the police chief -- I'm not sure if the sheriff or whoever it was that they were talk to, say that they are now interviewing the mother. So we will no momentarily, I believe, for as long as we keep in touch with our affiliate here, we'll find out fairly soon what they -- what the mother actually did, what her role was in this.

At one point there was a question as to whether or not she had actually notified or alerted the authorities that something was amiss there on the property. But the bottom line is that she did leave the house and then the cops went in and actually found -- they say he didn't put up a struggle or anything, either, when they did capture him.

KAGAN: And we're expecting to learn a lot more at a news conference at top of the next hour. The sheriff making an announcement as well. Of course , you'll see that news conference live here on CNN.

But once again, Nikolay Soltys in custody after a number of days on the run. He's accused of murdering six members of his own family. This also getting national attention, as this was focused on this tightly-knit Ukrainian community within Sacramento.

HARRIS: Now, they have had him in custody now for some time. And we've been watching it for, what, about another 15 minutes -- about 10 minutes or so.

KAGAN: And they haven't moved him.

HARRIS: And they have not -- that's my question: They haven't moved him; you have to wonder why. He's been on the FBI's most wanted list. So I'm wondering, in my mind, is this a matter of jurisdiction? Are they holding him for the FBI to come in, or are the sheriff's deputies just trying to make other arrangements to take him in to the Sacramento police or whatever? We hopefully will find that out fairly soon as well.

KAGAN: That is a question there I guess you would have to ask law enforcement. It does seem strange that once you get a fugitive on the run like that that you'd want to prolong -- that you would scoot him off and get him to the police station or the sheriff's station as soon as possible.

But one thing we can tell our viewers is that white squad car you're looking at there, it's a sheriff's -- Sacramento sheriff's county squad car, and he is being held in the back seat. Nikolay Soltys is being held in the back seat.

HARRIS: Exactly, and with this picture being beamed around the city of Sacramento, there are a lot of people in that community who are breathing a sigh of relief, and a lot easier this morning because, as we said, a number of homes there were under 24-hour surveillance and there were a number of people in that community, particularly in his family, who have been under protective custody, or at least have been watched protectively while he was on the run.

Now that he's been captured, things may be a lot easier for those people.

KAGAN: We are going to have a lot more on this story. Our coverage continues out of Sacramento. Stay with us.

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