Family, Friends Grieve as Police Seek Answers in UNC Student's Slaying

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," May 9, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: And tonight: At this hour, there is a massive manhunt for Irina Yarmolenko's killer. The 20-year-old University of North Carolina-Charlotte student was murdered five days ago, and her killer -- he is still out there. Irina was last seen Monday morning at a credit union and a coffee shop just before 11:00 AM. About two hours and 15 minutes later, at 1:15 PM, her body was discovered outside of her crashed blue Saturn by the Catawba River in North Carolina. Irina died of asphyxiation. Irina's murder comes two months after a University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill student was killed. UNC-Chapel Hill student body president Eve Carson was shot in the head on March 5.

Mount Holly police chief David Belk joins us in Charlotte. Chief, what's the latest? Do you have a suspect in this murder?

CHIEF DAVID BELK, MOUNT HOLLY POLICE DEPARTMENT: We don't. We have some people of interest that we're trying to do some interviews with right now, but nobody that we would say is a suspect.

VAN SUSTEREN: She -- at least, the report says she left Jackson's Java about 10:50 in the morning, and about 1:18, her body was found. Do you have any idea -- can you place her anyplace between 10:50 and 1:18, other than, of course, the scene where her body was found?

BELK: No, we haven't, and that's one of the critical things that we're working on right now, is trying to narrow down that timeline. We have found one or two other places that we know that she stopped at. The timeline that we have right now is that we know she left her apartment around 9:45. She made a banking transaction at 10:17. She stopped at Goodwill and make some donations about 10:35. And then the last time that we have right now is about 10:50, she left the coffee shop.

VAN SUSTEREN: At 9:45, when she went to the credit union, was that to make a deposit or a withdrawal, if you know?

BELK: Actually, she made -- the banking transaction was at 10:17. She stopped at Goodwill at 10:35. I'm not sure exactly what transaction she made. Talking with the detectives, I believe there was a deposit and then a small withdrawal.

VAN SUSTEREN: I guess that would be important if she made a withdrawal, in someone might have followed her, making this into a robbery/murder. But you have no information about that possibility?

BELK: We could make that assumption, but there's nothing right now that would lead us to believe that robbery would be a motive.

VAN SUSTEREN: Was she sexually assaulted?

BELK: We're still dealing with the medical examiner's office about some other reports. There's nothing right now to give us that impression.

VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of asphyxiation, which we are told was the manner by which she died, do you know if that was done by hand strangulation, or was there something used to assist the strangulation, a rope or anything else like that found on the scene?

BELK: We're actually not releasing much information about that particular part of it. We're going to allow the detectives to deal with the individual with that kind of information.

VAN SUSTEREN: What kind of help do you need from the people watching? I guess whether anyone saw her after 10:50 in the morning?

BELK: That's exactly right. She left the university area from the coffee shop, and right now, we cannot account for her time from leaving the coffee shop to when she showed up in Mount Holly, and that's the critical time that we're really trying to narrow down.

VAN SUSTEREN: Chief, thank you. And good luck, sir.

BELK: Thank you very much.

VAN SUSTEREN: Irina's brother, Pavel Yarmolenko, and Irina's friend, Julie Wilkerson, join us in Raleigh, North Carolina. Pavel, first of all, I mean, it's -- you know, there's never the right thing to say to a family member in one of these instances. And I guess I should say the same thing to you, Julie. You're a friend of hers. But any information that we could sort of draw out of you might help people help police. So our hearts and prayers go out to you, but I'll ask some questions anyway.

Pavel, any idea if there's anyone out there who would want to hurt your sister?

PAVEL YARMOLENKO, VICTIM'S SISTER: Well, that's one of the questions that the investigators are going to have to answer. Unfortunately, I can't answer that for you. I'm sorry.

VAN SUSTEREN: When was the last time you spoke to your sister?

YARMOLENKO: I spoke to her last week some time. We both had to deal with exams. And then she had her birthday, so -- I wish I had spoken to her more.

Watch Greta's interview with Irina Yarmolenko's brother and friend

VAN SUSTEREN: Julie, when was the last time you spoke to her?

JULIE WILKERSON, VICTIM'S FRIEND: I talked to her on her birthday.

VAN SUSTEREN: Which is which day?

WILKERSON: It was on Friday.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did she say anything to you or give you any sort of idea of what her plans were on Monday, by any remote chance?

WILKERSON: No. No, we didn't talk about that sort of thing.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did she say anything to you about whether anyone was giving her a difficult time, whether she was being stalked or had any trouble with anybody?

WILKERSON: I'm not at liberty to say or discuss that kind of thing. We mostly just talked about ourselves and our lives. And she was happy.

VAN SUSTEREN: I guess, from both of you -- I mean, I sort of accidentally stepped into this question with you, asking whether someone might be giving her trouble, and so now, of course, you know, I'm suspicious there might have been someone. I won't probe any further on that, so -- obviously, for investigative reasons. So let me just turn the corner a little bit. Pavel, tell me, what was your sister like?

YARMOLENKO: My sister was always the person who would unconditionally love everyone. She would ask you if you wanted something, and even if you said that you didn't want it, she would still bring it. She did that with me, you know, while I was studying or anything like that. She would just come up, and you know, give me a back rub or something, and that's -- you know, she was the best sister I could ask for.

VAN SUSTEREN: Julie, how did you meet her?

WILKERSON: In high school. We met in 9th grade and instantly just were inseparable.

VAN SUSTEREN: And Pavel, I imagine it is a terrible hole in your heart and that of your entire family.

YARMOLENKO: It's very, very painful. In fact, you know, we have lots of reservations about doing interviews like this, but we feel that it's important that we get this information out there so that the person responsible for this absolute tragedy is caught.

VAN SUSTEREN: And regrettably, it is also -- it's very helpful to the police to put the spotlight on it by doing that, so that if anyone knows anything, has seen her or heard of anything, you know, that -- hopefully, they will call the police. Once again, I'm terribly -- I mean, I'm terribly sorry about what happens, and I hope that there is justice for your sister and for your friend. Thank you both for joining us.

YARMOLENKO: Thank you.

WILKERSON: Thank you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Joining us in New York is forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden. Well, Dr. Baden, you have talked to family members and friends before, like we just went through. It's tough, isn't it. I mean...

DR. MICHAEL BADEN, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Very tough, especially when a young person dies.

VAN SUSTEREN: Asphyxiation -- the first thing I think of is strangling. Is that asphyxiation?

Watch Dr. Baden give his theories

BADEN: I think your questioning of the chief was very on point, and he wouldn't comment on it. Asphyxia means some way of preventing breathing. Drowning is a form of asphyxia. But when you're talking about -- they've already made it a homicide. That sounds like manual strangulation. And that goes along with the fact that the police have also said that whoever did it wasn't a threat to the community, the community should not worry, as the previous death of that University of North Carolina student, which was a stranger murder, was a -- there was a threat to community.

Here it sounds more like it's somebody she knew, and they have an idea who's done it. And it is manual strangulation. And that they've done -- they're doing an autopsy on the car. There should be a lot of evidence in the vehicle. And it sounds like she was dead and then the car was rolled off down this hill.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I guess that was why I sort of stepped in it with the friend and with the brother when I asked if there was anyone might be giving her trouble, you know...

BADEN: That's right, and...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... Which would be an obvious question to ask anyone under the circumstances.

BADEN: That's right. So I think that they're honing in on who did it.

VAN SUSTEREN: A terrible story, and we have way too many of these. It seems like every night, we have a new one. Dr. Baden, thank you.

BADEN: Thanks, Greta.

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