Man accused of killing six family members, including young son, hangs self in jail

Wednesday, February 13th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ A Ukrainian immigrant accused in the bloody slayings of six family members, committed suicide Wednesday by hanging himself in his jail cell, the sheriff's department said.

Nikolay Soltys had allegedly used a knife to kill his pregnant wife, 3-year-old son and four other relatives in August. He had been undergoing mental evaluations, his lawyer said.

``Right now I'm in absolute shock. I'm baffled how this could have happened, given that he was in isolation'' with surveillance cameras trained on his cell, said his attorney, Tommy Clinkenbeard.

``It's very suspicious,'' he said. ``There's something wrong here.''

Soltys had appeared in court Monday in a wheelchair, the result of jumping off a jail balcony in December. Jail officials said he had inexplicably jumped from the second floor after he was ordered back to his cell.

He was placed under a medical watch in October after he punctured his chest several times with a pencil. Clinkenbeard said he was merely imitating other detainees by giving himself a jailhouse tattoo, and he was returned to his cell after officials decided he was not suicidal.

``It's too early to have comment,'' said Robin Shakely, a spokeswoman for Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully. ``It's not like we've had that many suicides of high-profile cases.''

Soltys, 28, was arrested in August after allegedly slashing the throat of his wife, Lyubov, 23, then driving to the home of his aunt and uncle, Petr Kukharskiy, 75, and Galina Kukharskaya, 74, and fatally stabbing them and two 9-year-old cousins, Dimitriy Kukharskiy and Tatyana Kukharskaya.

His 3-year-old son, Sergei, was found dead, his throat slit, one day later in a cardboard box on a trash heap about 20 miles away.

Soltys eluded police for 10 days as investigators reconstructed the slayings. He was finally captured after he shocked family members by showing up in the backyard of his mother's home, which was under constant surveillance. Family members fled, and Soltys was captured minutes later, hiding under a table.

Soltys had written in a note left in his abandoned vehicle that he killed his relatives because they were ``poisoning'' his reputation. He later told investigators his wife had been disrespectful. Their troubles began years earlier in Ukraine, where her family said he regularly beat her.