Thursday, October 16, 2008


From today's Tooele Transcript, here's an update on the recent conviction of Kimberly Emelyantsev for the murder of her adopted son Kolya Emelyantsev. I am adding new details of the case and some comments. Go to my other entries for a complete view.

Sentencing clarification: K. Emelyantsev has been sentenced to 1-15 years less 214 days served while awaiting trial. The previous account reported "up to 15 years." There is no estimate of how much time she is expected to serve. A couple months ago I felt Emelyantsev would pretty much walk away from this with probation, but I'm no longer convinced that she'll be out soon. I'd look for 3-5 years. I think she wants punishment and wants to be in jail.

Account of murder: K. Emelyantsev originally told police Kolya had fallen off a chair in the living room after she'd left to change the diaper of another child. During her plea hearing she told the court she dropped Kolya twice, once on a bag of diapers and once on a hard-surface floor. During her pre-sentence mental health evaluation she admitted she kicked Koyla twice, "sliding him across the floor." Later in the day, "when frustration with the needs of her other children boiled over, Emelyantsev picked up Nikolai and 'slammed him onto the hard-surface floor twice."

Parental rights: "[County Attorney Doug] Hogan said Emelyantsev and her husband Fyodor are both relinquishing their parental rights to their four remaining children — a 10-year-old Down syndrome daughter from Kimberly’s previous marriage, their two biological children, ages 5 and 2, and a 4-year-old Down syndrome son they adopted from Russia last Christmas. The children are currently being cared for by family members."

Call me suspicious,. I believe that Fyodor Emelyantsev is complicit in Kolya's death and he deserves to go to prison. Why is F. Emelyantsev voluntarily relinquishing parental rights to his surviving biological and adopted children? Were earlier child neglect charges against him involving the couple's adopted DS son Luka dropped in return for his cooperation in the prosecution of his wife? Is Russian national Emelyantsev returning to Novosibirsk?

The surviving children are currently with local relatives. Will they remain there or be placed elsewhere? If they remain with family members and F. Emelyantsev remains in Tooele, will he have access to them?

There has been no indication in the media (unfortunately, the only way to get information on this case) that the home study and placement agencies involved in the adoption of Koyla and Luka have been investigated. In fact, I've heard not one word critical world on them outside minor blogosphere rumblings. Mrs. Emelyantsev deserves to go prison. So does her husband. But Kolya would be probably be alive today if he had not been placed in an over-stressed, over-burdened home, perhaps even violent home, where, if what the defense claims is true, Fyodor refused to take part in the rearing of the DS children he insisted on adopting over his wife's objections.

Reece's Rainbow Downs Syndrome Orphan Ministry, which specializes in placing DS babies, photolisted Kolya. The organization was quite aware that two special needs, institutionalized children from Russia were being placed only two months apart with the Emelyantsevs. Reece's (and its cooperating agencies) knew that the couple also had a 10-year old DS daughter and two biological toddlers to contend with.

Here is what Reece's reported on the Emelyantsev's near the end of 2007:

The Emelyantsev family has just completed their adoption of our little Luka in Russia, so are attempting to do simultaneous international adoptions! We are thrilled that Luka's adoption is finally complete and that he was saved from life in a mental institution. Now we pray for Kolya to make it home quickly, too!

Dad has a Master's Degree in Genetics (perfect!) and works as a Registered Nurse. Mom is a paralegal in their church office. Their community and school have rallied around their daughter with DS, and they are excited to provide Kolya with the same kind of love, support, encouragement, and "the sky is the limit" opportunities that he so deserves.

As many of you know, Russian adoptions are some of the most costly. We ask your special consideration in sponsoring this family! Won't you please help this wonderful family bring Kolya home?*

The only "sky is the limit" Kolya got, if you believe in such things, is a trip to heaven courtesy of his forever family and the international adoption industry.

*document no longer online; hardcopy in my position

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Yesterday, Kimberly Emelyantsev, 34, was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison for the March 2008 beating death of her adopted son Kolya. In August she was convicted of second degree child abuse homicide. At the request of the prosecutor, Emelyantsev was ordered to undergo a pre-sentencing psychiatric evaluation. Kolya was a "special needs" adoptee, with Down Syndrome and had lived with Emelyantsev and her husband Fyodor, a Russian national, for less than a month. The couple was also rearing K. Emelyantsev's 10-year old DS daughter and two biological daughters without disabilities. Two months before Kolya's placement they adopted a DS Russian baby, Luka.

That such a situation might prove "stressful" to the Emelyantsevs, especially stay-at-home Kimberly, was apparently overlooked or dismissed by their adoption agency About A Child, Reece's Rainbow who listed him, and the home study hack, probably out of LDS Social Services, who passed the couple for adoption. (The Es are LDS). After all, Fyodor had a MA in genetics, was trained in handling disabled children, and worked as an RN. The couple took out a second mortgage to pay for Kolya. Who could say no to that package?

In August, the prosector promised that more details of the case, which has received little attention outside of Utah, would be revealed at sentencing. So far we have only a short article in the Salt Lake City Tribune to fill in some of the blanks:

[Defense attorney] Williams said Emelyantsev blamed the death of the boy on a stressful home environment and the "pressures of a husband [32-year-old Fyodor Emelyantsev] who would not participate in an extraordinary familial situation."

Williams added that Kimberly Emelyantsev never wanted to adopt this child from Russia, but was afraid to say no to her husband and afraid of how it would look to others if she did not go through with the adoption

and details of the beating:

Emelyantsev initially claimed that out of frustration she deliberately dropped the baby twice to the floor on March 6. But during a recent diagnostic evaluation at the Utah State Prison, Emelyantsev admitted grabbing the child by an arm and a leg, slamming him to the floor, and then repeating the action.

Kimberly Emelyantsev did the deed and is worthy of the greatest punishment available to the state, But what kind of a man coerces his wife to adopt special needs children who he then refuses to help her care for? Nobody knows what went on behind closed doors in that house but the family. Perhaps if court documents and investigation reports are forthcoming that information will give us some idea. But, Fyodor Emelyantsev is complicit in Kolya's death.

Unfortunately, Feodor Emelyantsev is off the hook
. Though never charged in Koyla's death, he and Kimberly had also been charged with child neglect for allegedly starving Luka, charges never fully substantiated and later dropped. At the time of Kolya's beating, Fyodor claimed to be on his computer in a back bedroom and was unaware of any problem until his wife brought the baby, who police described as "unresponsive and breathing very slowly" to him. Now, I have a 10 room house, and I'm pretty sure, short of a motorcycle race running down my street, I'd hear a baby being thumped on my floor.

The SLT did not report the current whereabouts of Fyodor Emelyantsev or the other children who were last reported living with nearby relatives.
Kimberly Emelyantsev has agreed to voluntarily terminate parental rights to her surviving children.

Most of the questions I brought up after Emelyantsev's conviction have not been answered and are still relevant. Since this is Utah, they probably never will be answered.

  • What role (if any) did F. Emelyantsev play in the prosecution and plea bargain of his wife?

  • Why did About a Child allow the placement of Koyla with the Emelyantsevs so soon after they had taken custody of another institutionalized non-related Russian DS child ?

  • Did Adoption Ark who placed Luka, know that the Emelyantsevs planned to adopt a second institutionalized DS child from Russia immediately after Luka's placement? (Reece's Rainbow did.)

  • Has any agency been investigated by their individual state's social services of attorney general?

and a couple more:

  • Was Kimberly Emelyantsev and/or the other children the object of domestic violence?

  • What is the current status of the surviving Emelantsiv children?
I have updated Forever Family--Forever Dead with this new information.

Friday, October 10, 2008


E Case and I will appear on Speaking of Adoption on Tuesday October 14. Here's the official announcement:

On "Speaking of Adoption"
Listen on the internet at

October 14th: Marley Greiner of Bastard Nation,
activist Elizabeth Case.

The topic:
Why Are So Many Russian adoptees dying?

To listen live: Go to and click on
To listen to the archived programs: go to and click on
ON DEMAND, then on the show name.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


On August 7, 2008 Brian Dale Dykstra, 31,was charged with 2nd degree murder in the 2005 death of his adopted Russian son Isaac Jonathan Dykstra (originao name Ilya Karguntsev, , 21 months old. Dykstra surrendered to Johnson County, Iowa authorities on August 8 and was released on $15,000 bond. He submitted a written plea of Not Guilty on October 2 in Johnson County District Court. Dykstra currently lives in South Carolina where his wife, Dr. Lisa Dykstra, is an Assistant Professor of Spanish at Clemson University. She was not at home at the time of the alleged beating and has not been charged. I have been unable to find the employment status of Brian Dykstra (but he is not the actor/comedian/playright of the same name).

Isaac was born November 18, 2003 either in  Krasnoyarsk or Sosnovoborsk and adopted from an orphanage located in the latter..

An Iowa City Police Department press release says that on August 13, 2005 officers were sent to Dykstra's home after receiving an abandoned 911 call from that address. On callback, Dykstra told the dispatcher that Iyla was having a 'little seizure" and difficulty breathing from what "might be related to a head injury." Responding units from the Iowa City Police, Iowa City Fire Department, and Johnson County Ambulance Service found the baby on the living room floor unconscious, with labored breathing and obvious head injuries. Isaac was transported to the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics Emergency Treatment Center for what police describe as massive brain swelling, severe bleeding inside the skull, and retinal swelling in both eyes. He also had severe bruising on his torso and legs. Doctors said the injuries happened earlier in the day and were inconsistent with Brian Dykstra's explanations. Isaac underwent emergency brain surgery and never regained consciousness. He was declared brain dead on August 14.

Ilya reportedly lived with the Dykstras for three months. So far, I've been unable to learn details of the adoption. According to Luke Haverhals, a friend of the couple, writing in the Cedar Rapids Gazette Online (August 10, 2008), Ilya had recently been treated for club foot at University Hospitals. Haverhals claims that after the removal of the cast, just days before his death, Ilya:

...and was able, as a year and a half year old, to walk normally for the first time (to the delight of his adoring parent). Literally, a few days after getting his cast off, Issac fell down hard (mind you he had not learned to fall like other kids his age) and hit his head on the floor one night playing at home. He cried, got over it, and started playing again. Brian and Lisa being worried first time parents called the hospital (Mercy on Call) to see if they should bring him in, but Isaac had quit crying and was back playing like millions of other kids who fall down, cry about it, and then get over it.

Haverhals blames Dykstra's arrest on the "'opinion' of a well-intentioned, but misinformed and ignorant/incompetent doctor" and calls for the firing of "the unjust "fraudulent, pathetic, backhanded and outright incompetent investigators."

Another Dykstra friend, John Johnson, describing Dykstra as a "christian, really mellow person," complains in the same section, "it's pathetic how media paints a terrible picture of a great guy just to create a story."

The Dykstras supported Habitat for Humanity and were active members of the New Life Community Church (Reformed Church of America) in Coralville. According to Luke Haverhals, on August 13 Lisa had left for a church consistery retreat and Brian was doing dishes when he heard a thump in the living room and found the baby on the floor.

Lisa Dykstra received her doctorate in Second Language Acquisition with an emphasis in linguistics from the University of Iowa in Spring 2006. She dedicated her dissertation to Isaac.


The injuries to Ilya described by police are consistent with shaken baby syndrome, not a fall on the floor. Like several other dead Russian adoptees, he had lived with his Forever Family a short amount of time and was left home alone with one parent. Little explanation has been given as to why it took police three years to file charges. Luke Haverhals claims that authorities considered Dykstra a suspect from Day One, twisted testimony from friends, and taken statements out of context to "fit their preconceived notions of the case." Despite Haverhals claim, it appears that the police carefully constructed their case. 39 witnesses, including 6 police and 9 doctors are expected to testify for the state. This length in prosecution is not without precedent. Logan Higginbotham was killed in 1998, but her mother, Laura, wasn't prosecuted and convicted until 2004.

NOTE: Ilya has been added to the Forever Family--Forever Dead memorial page at the bottom of this blog.

Thanks to E Case.