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Family of slain UNCC student waits for answers

A month after Irina Yarmolenko's body was found, her family say they are still waiting to find out why she was killed.

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The family of a slain University of North Carolina at Charlotte student found one-month ago said Thursday it has been agonizing waiting to find out why the student was killed.

Irina 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.

Pavel Yarmolenko, Irina’s brother, said he keeps in close contact with Mount Holly police investigators and is waiting for lab results to return from evidence taken at the scene where the body was found. He would not elaborate on what type of tests were being run. Calls to the Mount Holly police were not returned.

“It’s really hard for us to continuously think about my sister’s killer and what he did,” Pavel Yarmolenko said.

Pavel Yarmolenko said his sister devoted her life to helping others. Even hours before her death, surveillance video showed her making a donation at a Goodwill store in Charlotte.

“How we treat each other was a big theme of hers,” Pavel Yarmolenko said.

Pavel Yarmolenko, 25, a graduate student at Duke University, said his family moved from Ukraine in the 1990s because of religious persecution. They first called Greensboro home and later moved to Chapel Hill.

Irina Yarmolenko’s family described her as always bright and cheerful, which had made them wonder why she was killed.

“It’s a very big question and no answer is really going to be sufficient,” Pavel Yarmolenko said.

Her parents and a cousin announced last month they would be starting a new program aimed at increasing campus safety.

Anyone with information about Yarmolenko's death is asked to call the Mount Holly police at 704-827-4343.

UNCC is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and the conviction of Yarmolenko’s killer.

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Beau Minnick, Reporter
Kathy Hanrahan, Web Editor

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