Suspect arrested in LA; charged with murder of ex-wife

SEATTLE -- King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg announced on Friday that Aleksander Polak will be charged with first-degree murder in the death of his ex-wife, Nataliya Vabishchevich.

Vabishchevich's body was discovered by a co-worker shortly before noon June 17 after she didn't show up for work. When police arrived at Vabishchevich's apartment, they found the 35-year-old woman covered in blood and unresponsive. Vabishchevich suffered more than 70 stab wounds to her head and chest, court documents state.

During their investigation, police spoke with friends of Vabishchevich's who said she told them she was fearful of her ex-husband, but that there did not seem to be an imminent threat to her safety. One of her friends told police of an incident two to three years ago in which Polak showed up at Vabishchevich's apartment when she was babysitting and threatened his ex-wife if she did not reconcile with him. The woman told police that during that conversation, Polak said "I kill people; I hurt people and don't mess with me" and pulled out a knife.

Another friend of Vabishchevich's, who worked with Polak, told police that while the couple was in the midst of their divorce Polak had threatened to kill her. The couple has been divorced about seven years.

Police also spoke with Vabishchevich's teenage son, who lived with her. The 14-year-old told police that when he left that morning about 7:15 a.m. for school, his mother was alive and that she had seemed fine. He said his parents frequently argued, but had never witnessed any physical confrontation between them. The boy told police he had not seen his father for a couple of years and that he thought he had returned to Latvia. He said his mother told him about a year ago that Polak had threatened her and that she was afraid of him.

A few months ago, Vabishchevich told her son that she thought Polak was back in the country and warned her son not to speak to him -- she said she was afraid he would kidnap him and take him to Latvia.

In their investigation, police confirmed that Polak had returned to the U.S. on May 8 and that he renewed his Washington state driver's license the following day, listing a Bellevue address. That address is where Polak's mother, sister and nephews live and is adjacent to the apartment complex where Vabishchevich and her son lived.

Police contacted Polak's nephew who is the same age and attends the same school as his son. When they spoke with him, he told police he had spoken with his uncle four times on June 17 and he provided them with his uncle's cell phone number. The boy also told police his uncle had been complaining about not being able to see his son and that he was expected back at the apartment at 7 p.m. that day.

When Polak arrived at the apartment complex, he agreed to speak with police at the station and allowed an officer to drive his car there. Detectives noticed at the time he had a recent scratch on his neck and cut on his pinkie finger; the officer who drove the car reported seeing stains and black fibers that appeared to be from Vabishchevich's robe on the floor of Polak's car.

Polak told police the cut on his neck was from a haircut and he had cut his finger while cutting up an avocado.

During their interview, Polak denied any involvement in his ex-wife's death. He told police he had left the country in 2007, but returned to the U.S. a couple of times in an attempt to reconcile with his ex-wife. He told police the last time he had seen his wife was July 2010.

Polak told police that he was alone all day on June 17 and had gone swimming to alleviate his asthma and had visited other parks that day.

As the interview continued, Polak eventually asked police what the sentence was for murder and when they were going to arrest him, charging documents state. Police then took Polak to his apartment, where he allowed them to conduct a search.

At the apartment, police did not find any evidence to support Polak's claims of how he cut himself.

On June 18 about 9 p.m., a detective saw Polak in the Seattle Greyhound bus station; Polak purchased a ticket to San Diego. The following day, Polak boarded a bus bound for San Diego and an officer also boarded the bus. The officer saw Polak speaking to a woman on the bus and when she got off in Eugene, Ore., and was questioned she told police Polak had been asking her how to get from San Diego to the Mexican airport.

Police arrested Polak on June 20 as he was exiting a bus in Los Angeles. When police spoke with another passenger on the bus, they said Polak had asked them about security at the Mexican border and talked about his plans to fly to Europe.

When he was arrested, police discovered Polak had $5,000 stashed in his baseball cap.

No court date has been set for Polak. He is being held without bail in California pending extradition to Seattle.