Charge: Ex-husband stabbed Bellevue woman 72 times

BELLEVUE, Wash. -- The ex-husband of a woman found murdered in her condo on Monday has been charged with her murder.

Prosecutors say Aleksandr Polak stabbed 35-year-old Natalyia Vabishchevich 72 times, then tried to flee to Mexico. Polak was arrested Friday in Los Angeles and is being held there without bail, pending extradition back to Bellevue.

Monday, a coworker found the body of Vabishchevich in her condo after the part-time massage therapist failed to show up for work at a Redmond chiropractic clinic.

Prosecutors say the night after the murder, Polak bought a bus ticket to San Diego and began to make his way south to Mexico. He reportedly told passengers he was going to attempt to cross into Mexico and then fly to Europe and was asking the best way to get across the border. Officers found $5,000 in cash tucked inside Polak's baseball cap, prosecutors said.

Ater her body was found, detectives went to her 14-year-old son's middle school to talk to him about his slain mother, and he told them about the couple's troubled relationship.

The son told detectives his parents divorced about six or seven years ago and moved out of their apartment. The son said his parents often argued but he hadn't seen any physical attacks nor had he seen his father in the past two years, believing he had gone back to his home country of Latvia. But about a year ago, Vabishchevich warned her son that she had been threatened by Polak and three months ago, gave warning Polak may be back in Bellevue and not to contact him out of fears he might be kidnapped and taken out of the country, court documents said.

Vabishchevich's friends and co-workers painted a dark picture to detectives of the years after the couple divorced, saying Vabishchevich had many times expressed fears about her ex-husband. One friend told detectives Vabishchevich warned her that if anything bad happened to her, she wanted to make sure Polak did not get custody of their son. She also recounted the story of when she was babysitting the son a couple of years ago and Polak came by, saying he wanted to reconcile with his ex-wife and if she didn't, he would kill her.

"I kill people; I hurt people and don't mess with me," Polak told the friend, according to court documents. He then pulled out a knife, placed his open hand on a table, then stabbed the table around his fingers.

Another friend of Vabishchevich who worked with Polak during the time of the couple's divorce told detectives Polak claimed his ex-wife "ruined his life" and he was going to kill her, documents said.

A third friend told detectives he heard from Vabishchevich that Polak threatened to have friends in Belarus kill her family if she sued for child support.

In the hours after the discovery of the murder, Bellevue detectives questioned Polak, who denied any involvement with the murder and volunteered to submit a statement and DNA samples. But as detectives continued to gather evidence and interviews with the people in Vabishchevich's life pointed to her ex- as the suspect, two Bellevue officers spotted Polak boarding a San Diego-bound bus at the Seattle Greyhound bus station. They followed and interviewed passengers he spoke with.

"We sent our detectives down there and we were assisted by US Marshals as well as Los Angeles Police Department and they helped us make an arrest in this case," said Seth Tyler with Bellevue Police.

If convicted of first degree murder, Polak could face a sentence of life in prison.