Local News

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

Posted July 2, 2008 3:45 p.m. EDT
Updated July 2, 2008 5:11 p.m. EDT

— 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.