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Police: Someone else sat in driver seat of slain UNCC student's car

Posted July 2, 2008

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— Information released Wednesday by the Mount Holly Police Department shows what was happening with and possibly in the car of a slain University of North Carolina at Charlotte at the time of her death.

According to data retrieved from the black box in Irina Yarmolenko’s car, someone was sitting in the driver’s seat when the vehicle, a blue four-door 1998 Saturn, went down an embankment.

Yarmolenko, who is from Chapel Hill, was found dead on the banks of the Catawba River in Mount Holly on May 5. Police said the 20-year-old was asphyxiated.

Police said at the time of impact the car was going about 15 mph. The driver’s side seatbelt was engaged at that time, police said. The black box also revealed that someone started Yarmolenko’s car at the scene.

“We are continuing to work with the SBI and FBI in analyzing data and evidence,” Chief David Belk said in a statement. “It is a slow and arduous task and we hope that the final results provide us with more information.”

Police said they found Yarmolenko’s car at the edge if the water, facing the Catawba River as if driven to the water. The vehicle had traveled several yards down a steep embankment and struck a tree stump right at the water’s edge, damaging the front of the vehicle.

Yarmolenko’s body was found outside of the vehicle, lying on the ground next to the driver’s side door, police said.

The Mount Holly Police Department continues to investigate the homicide.

Anyone with information in the case is asked to call the Mount Holly Police Department at 704-827-4343. A $15,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of Yarmolenko’s killer.

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  • teacher-mom Jul 2, 2008

    i DO NPOT UNDERSTAND THIS. i HAVE READ THE ARTICLE TWICE AND ISN'T IT POSSIBLE THAT SHE DROVE THE CAR. sOMEONE MIGHT HAVE BEEN IN THE BACKSEAT AND ATTACKED HER. i DO NOT GET THE IDEA THAT SOMEONE ELSE WAS DRIVING THE CAR.

  • teacher-mom Jul 2, 2008

    I hope they find whoever did this. i cannot imagine her family's grief. My prayers are with you.

  • mondosinistro Jul 2, 2008

    Doesn't appear to be a carefully planned crime. Looks as if the murderer killed her elsewhere, and was going to drive the car into the river, and leap out at the last second. Bu he hit the stump, got out and ran away. Sounds like an attempted rape, that might have left some evidence (DNA or otherwise) on the car and/or the body, and possibly marks on the suspect. Either that, or possibly a jealous female rival, but doubtful.

    So sad, too many promising young women known to Chapel Hill residents in the last few months. Very likely there are people here who in fact knew more than one of them.