Police discovered the bloody body of a 3yearold boy in a cardboard box in rural northern California as they searched for the toddler's father, a Ukrainian immigrant now suspected of killing six family members.
Nikolay Soltys, 27, is the target of an intense, nationwide manhunt that began after he allegedly stabbed his pregnant wife to death and went on to kill four other family members before fleeing with the child.
Investigators found a note scribbled on a family photo in his abandoned car that led them to the latest grisly discovery in the case. Under a light tower east of Sacramento lay the 90centimetre television box with no lid that contained Sergey Soltys' body.
The discovery was "probably the most distressing of all because there was a great deal of hope throughout the department that we would be able to find this child safe and sound," said Sacramento County Sheriff's Sgt. James Lewis.
The cause of death was not determined, but authorities said he had been cut or stabbed.
A day earlier, the suspect was seen at both the suburban Sacramento home where his wife was found dead and the duplex of the other victims. The homes are about 20 minutes apart.
A warrant has been issued for Soltys' arrest on suspicion of five counts of murder. Lewis said investigators also believe he's responsible for his son's death.
Responding to dozens of tips, authorities intensified a nationwide search for Soltys. Officers were stationed at bus terminals and airports, and investigators appealed to Eastern European residents and offered a dlrs 10,000 reward.
Sheriff's officials planned to distribute fliers in Russian and English in some neighborhoods in the Sacramento area, which has approximately 75,000 Ukrainian and Russian immigrants.
Investigators said they have no motive for the killings, but some family members said they were unhappy Soltys was unemployed and on government aid. Detectives are also investigating whether Soltys had a violent temper and if drugs or mental illness played a role in the killings.
"These are the methodical actions of a man who has made up his mind what he is going to do. He has a mission," said Clint Van Zandt, a former FBI profiler in Virginia.
Soltys' mother told police her son seemed fine and showed no signs that anything was wrong. Police refused to release her name.
In Ukraine, authorities said, Soltys was rejected by the national army for mental instability. He also had a history of domestic violence in Ukraine with his first wife. Soltys came to the United States almost three years ago and has no known criminal record.Reuse content