Ukrainian immigrant Nikolay Soltys admitted Friday to stabbing to death his wife, son and four other relatives on a bloody rampage Aug. 20, but police are still trying to decipher the motive behind the killings.
Soltys, who led police on a 10-day manhunt before being captured Thursday in his mother’s back yard only miles from his Sacramento home, gave police a step-by-step report of his days on the run, authorities said. The confessed killer took police on a tour of his hideouts after the slayings, pointing out the abandoned home where he initially stayed.
Soltys, 27, told police he killed his pregnant wife, 3-year-old son, two 9-year-old cousins and his aunt and uncle because they were "poisoning" him, investigators said. Police are not sure what Soltys means by "poisoning," but believe it could refer to his relatives speaking negatively about him.
"We have learned that metaphorically in their culture that would mean someone talking poorly of them," Lewis said. "It could be either way: literally, or metaphorically, they were poisoning his name."
Soltys had suggested a poisoning of his reputation in a note left in his abandoned vehicle to explain the rampage. The note said he killed the young cousins to punish their parents for speaking out against him, investigators said, but it offered no explanation for killing his own young son.
Soltys also told police he was never driving the green Ford Explorer a witness reported seeing him and his son in hours after the killings. The sighting had given authorities hope that the boy would be found alive. Investigators now believe Soltys killed his son shortly after the other killings.
Police believe Soltys left his car hidden behind a home improvement store and worked his way toward his mother's home in suburban Citrus Heights, about five miles away.
Early Thursday, Soltys' brother spotted the fugitive hiding under a desk in the mother's back yard and alerted police, who moved in and arrested Soltys.
Soltys was dirty, barefoot and had several days’ growth of beard, suggesting that he did not have access to the cash and assistance police believed he had. Police had believed Soltys was in possession of up to $16,000 cash, but was exhausted and had very little money on him at the time of his arrest. He had not reached out to associates in Sacramento’s Ukrainian community for help, as authorities had also believed.
A backpack and sleeping bag were found nearby, and inside the pack was a 10-inch knife police think Soltys used to stab his relatives to death. But police don't believe Soltys returned to his mother's house to harm her or other family members.
"The impression was he was not coming back to kill them," Sacramento County Sheriff's Sgt. James Lewis said. "It was more a reaching out to the family."
Soltys spoke at length with detectives without demanding a lawyer, said Sheriff Lou Blanas. He will be represented by the public defender's office. Police wouldn't formally release details at the request of Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully.
Prosecutors plan to announce charges against Soltys on Tuesday, shortly before his arraignment.
A spokeswoman said it is too soon to say whether they will seek the death penalty.
Soltys underwent a psychiatric evaluation and is being held in isolation under 24-hour camera surveillance.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.