Saturday, May 10, 2008

Arkadiy Tashman: Sister on "Missing Pieces" show; DNA test results pending

Transcript of episode from
TODD MATTHEWS (Missing Pieces Host): I’m Todd Matthews. This is
Missing Pieces, and tonight we have Natalya, and Natalya, I’m not even going to
attempt to say your last name. I’m going to let you pronounce it.
VOSKRESENSKAYA: (Guest, sister of missing Arkadiy): My last name is
TODD: Oh, wow, with my Southern accent, I would have
butchered that, terribly, so…and I don’t want to do that, it’s a beautiful name.
You are the sister of missing, ‘Ark’ Tashman?
TODD: Okay,
now what is his first name? How do you pronounce his first name?
Arkadiy (Ark-ah-dee).
TODD: Arkadiy. Okay. I’ve read a lot about him, you
know you have a friend, Paul Thompson, and he’s a member of our ‘Cold Cases’
group, and he has kept us very informed of your case. I’ve watched it for quite
a while, and I read a note where you said, ‘”Every time I post a flyer, I see
your face. I still look into tall, young guys’ faces, trying to spot you when I
walk on the street. Come back, I MISS YOU SO MUCH.” - Natalya’ – and that’s what
you said about your brother.
TODD: And he has been missing
since January 26, 2005, and he was 17 years old, from Staten Island, New York.
He’s nearly 6’2”, 170-180 pounds; light brown/ash blond hair, gray/blue eyes. He
had a pierced right ear and scars on both arms. What happened in this case?
NATALYA: I wish we knew what happened because, all of a sudden, he never
came home. He went to see his friends. He went to his friends’ house, and my Mum
woke up in the middle of the night realizing that he never came home.
Uh huh.
NATALYA: Unfortunately I was not in town at that time, so I was not
aware of this, and the next morning they called the police, and the police came
in and they found a note. They found a note on his desk. It was a bit of a
disturbing note that alluded to possible suicide that he might have committed,
but to be honest with you, we don’t really believe that he committed a suicide,
and usually when people commit suicide, and believe me, by now I’m an expert at
that, they don’t hide their bodies.
TODD: Not on their own, you know, that’s
sort of a very hard thing to do.
NATALYA: Absolutely, and we still have not
heard anything or…we had some possible sightings, which I personally checked out
each one of them, but then people would be convinced, “No, it’s not him,” after
I would come to the place with lots of pictures and I would speak to people that
suspected it might be my brother, but then they would assure me that it’s not
him after seeing a couple of different pictures. Unfortunately, we have not had
anything, but we are still going on.
TODD: So, you have this note that
alludes to suicide, though, do you think that there’s a possibility that he was
forced to write it? Or, that he didn’t write it? Or, that he wrote it to cover
up the fact that maybe he was just going to take off?
NATALYA: Ah, it was
definitely his writing. It was definitely his writing, but honestly, we’ve
been…and I’ve been talking to all of his friends, all of the people that
surrounded him, beside us, the family. Um, no, we don’t believe he was forced
into writing this and, yes, it did seem that he wrote it of his own will.
TODD: You know, I have a 16-year-old son, and I like to think that I know
him. I like to think that he’s happy and well-adjusted and having no problems,
you know, and of course you don’t want to think that, and my brother is younger
than myself and my son will talk to him sometimes, and it’s only through that
that I realize that he does have problems and concerns and worries, and I think
I know him well enough that I would know it, but I think I know him so well and
love him so much, that I don’t want to know it, that I don’t want to consider
the possibility that he has problems or confusions, but it’s a hard world to
grow up in as a teen right now.
NATALYA: Yeah, actually, and especially for
a teenager right now, it’s really hard. First of all, it’s really hard for them
to know who they are and it brings a lot of problems, when they don’t know who
they are, they start trying different things…
TODD: Uh huh.
…and they are afraid of the future.
TODD: And who can blame them, you know?
It is scary.
NATALYA: Yeah. No, I’ve been one. I’ve been a teenager.
TODD: We’ve been there.
NATALYA: Yeah, we’ve all been there, and I
remember, I was thinking, “Okay, so once I graduate from this school, okay, I go
to college, but who am I, what am I going to do? What’s going to happen to me?”
and all those choices that all of a sudden they have to make in their lives,
it’s scary, and I understand it but unfortunately, I think, sometimes people
close to teenagers, we might just overlook…
TODD: Uh huh.
NATALYA: …some
of their challenges.
TODD: I was lucky and unlucky all at the same time. You
know I planned on college growing up, and I thought, you know, it was scary
because you really didn’t know which direction to go in, and then the girl that
I ended up marrying, she was a year younger than me, her home burned and her
family was going to move away, so I had to hurry up and we had to move forward,
so college changed, we got married and began life. So, I think we jumped into it
so quickly, that I didn’t have time to think or worry, and then we just had to
get busy with life, and for me, it worked out really good. I’m happy, and I
wouldn’t change a thing. I wouldn’t go back and change a thing; I’ve been
married 20 years, this year, so it’s a very good thing for me, but you know, in
this world today, 20 years later, I would hate to think that my son would even
try to take that route.
NATALYA: Yes, I understand what you’re saying. I
actually can relate to the situation because I got married very early, in
college, and I have not regretted this, and we’ve been married for quite a long
time and we have two beautiful kids, but unfortunately, I think the world has
changed so much since 20 years ago…
TODD: Oh, yes.
NATALYA: …and kids
have much more options, but I think they’re afraid of this world, and I believe
that right values in life are not being taught in school.
TODD: And I get to
talk to kids Ark’s age all the time, you know, that’s the main group that I
target if I go do the high school lectures, we talk about career development,
and it’s this age, and it is such a confusing age. You know, had your brother
expressed some confusion to you guys, or was this…?
NATALYA: Yes, actually,
yeah. And I always remember that when I learned that he was missing, you know
you start going back, you start scrutinizing every moment that you had with the
person, and before he went missing, I would say three months before he went
missing, for a month, most evenings he just was sitting on the balcony, it’s a
beautiful evening, we’re talking, and all of a sudden he said, “Natalya, to be
honest with you, I don’t see myself living after I’m 18 years old.” And I looked
at him, and I think later I realized, I dismissed that saying too quickly, but I
looked at him and I said, “Arkadiy, what are you talking about?” and he said,
“Natalya, what am I going to do?” And, you know, he is an extremely bright
person, extremely bright, and very smart and very humorous, but he had been
having troubles with his school, not because he was educationally challenged,
no, just because he had been missing some classes and he was hanging out with
friends, so he was left in ninth grade for the second time, and then he just…I
don’t think he realized he knew that he can change everything in his life.
TODD: Uh huh.
NATALYA: He was afraid of his life, even though he was an
extremely brave person, and I just said that he ‘was’…and I still believe that
he ‘is.’
TODD: He was at a very scary point in his life, you know, jumping
into the adult world from school, you know jobs are so hard to find, there are
just so many challenges out there now, so I can imagine somebody being afraid.
NATALYA: Yeah, and I also think they’re afraid of not standing up to our
TODD: Uh huh.
NATALYA: I’m afraid that they think they might
disappoint us with some of the choices. Honestly, I think all I could have…if I
could do something differently…
TODD: Uh huh.
NATALYA: …I would just
have maybe half an hour conversation with him and tell him that it doesn’t
matter what he does in life; it doesn’t matter. I know who he is and I love the
guy that he is. It doesn’t matter if he might not have a career or if he would
work at McDonald’s, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter as long as, you know, I
loved him, I love him very dearly; I don’t think, kids at that age, they know
how much we love them.
TODD: No, they really don’t, and you know there are
times when I’m harsh with my son because I’m trying to push him in a direction
and you have to keep telling him the same things over and over, and you have to
get really firm with them, and then I feel guilty, then I think, “I can’t feel
guilty because I must make him succeed. I must make sure he’s okay if I’m not
TODD: And I know that’s probably confusing to him,
you know, and (sighs) just the troubles of being a teenager.
TODD: Now, you, like me, you have a very distinct accent. I’ve got a
Southern accent and you’re Russian, I do believe, right?
NATALYA: Yes, I am
TODD: Were you born in Russia?
NATALYA: I was born in Russia. I
went to college in Russia and I moved here 11 years ago.
TODD: Now, your
brother, was he born there, or here?
NATALYA: He was born in Russia. When we
came here, he was 8 years old, and it was very challenging for him, especially
the first year was really hard, he went to school and he never spoke English,
and you know, just the whole fitting in procedure, it was really hard.
Do you think that created a whole set of unique challenges for him?
Yes, and also he saw our parents were struggling. They dropped all their lives
in Russia and they came here and everything was just starting over again, and
it’s pretty hard to do, you know, when you certainly got used to certain
lifestyles. But, to be honest with you, I think he got assimilated into the
American world fairly quickly.
TODD: Uh huh. Well, you are in New York and
it’s quite a melting pot there.
NATALYA: Yeah, you’re absolutely right.
TODD: I went there; I was there recently in New York, earlier this month in
fact, and it was hard to find an American in some places there. Most of the
people were…because I talked to a few people and I knew by their accents, they
weren’t from here.
TODD: So, he wasn’t alone. He wasn’t
like an isolated person, like he might be here. Here, in my area, most all these
people are born, and they’ve been here for…their families have been here for
generations, so he might feel more foreign here, but New York, definitely
somebody from a foreign land can blend in rather easily.
absolutely, and especially his English…his Russian was degrading because he was
only using it at home…
TODD: Uh huh.
NATALYA: …and English pretty much
became his first language.
TODD: Hmm. So, now tell me about the parents?
NATALYA: My parents…I’m half-sister to Arkadiy…
TODD: Uh huh.
NATALYA: …so there is no confusion, but it doesn’t matter, when he was born,
I was much older than he was and he was pretty much my first child. So, our
mother, she’s in a wheelchair, and she’s been in a wheelchair since she was 2
years old, and his father, I call him father, I started calling him father when
I was 6 years old, so I consider him my father as well, even though he’s not my
biological father.
TODD: So, now obviously, this is very difficult for them,
and that would be a stupid question to ask if it’s a difficult process for them,
but you know, they’re from a foreign country as well, you know, how are they
coping with this?
TODD: Because you seem to be the
spokesperson, from everything I’ve read or seen, you…
TODD: …seem to be the person taking the lead in what’s happening.
NATALYA: It destroyed them, to be honest with you. It completely destroyed
them because it’s not like there have been some precedents to Arkadiy’s
disappearance, no, he never ran away from home, and he didn’t have a fight with
parents, no, everything was just another regular day. It destroyed them because
they don’t know why, and how could that happen? And, of course, everyone is
blaming themselves. My Mum is blaming herself that she did not do something to
prevent it, and my Dad is blaming himself and it’s just…
TODD: Well, it’s
easy to look back and do that, you know, you have to think, “What did I do
wrong? What could I have done? How could I have loved them more? How could I
have prevented this?” You know, that’s all the normal things that somebody goes
through in this situation, obviously.
NATALYA: Yes, and other times, they’re
trying to understand; maybe they…maybe at some point they were too hard on him,
maybe…it’s all ‘maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe’…maybe there is something we
could have done differently and he would be still here with us. There’s this
part in this that, while we still believe he’s alive, we can get mad at him…all
of a sudden, in the hardest moments, all of a sudden, and my Mum does the same,
we’re like, “How could he do that do us? Doesn’t he love us?” and, you know,
this act of selfishness, those words of selfishness…
TODD: Uh huh.
NATALYA: …they kind of make us feel better, but it’s just a self-deception,
to be honest with you.
TODD: But he was an avid skateboarder, from what I’m
reading, and it seems like law enforcement are kind of looking in these
communities; maybe he’s found some refuge there.
NATALYA: I was hoping…when
he went missing, we actually, we pooled a lot of people to help us look for him,
and believe me, I’ve been used to life in New York and everything seemed normal
there, but when we started researching and walking through some of the shelters,
through some of the troublesome areas of New York, we discovered a whole
underground world…
TODD: Uh huh.
NATALYA: …and it was scary. It was
scary. And we met some people who would say, “Oh, yeah, I had a whole bunch of
teenagers and sometimes they stayed with me for a couple of days and then they
move on,” and there is a possibility, and I’m hoping that that’s what happened,
that that’s what’s happening right now.
TODD: I mean, I can see a kid that
age take off and then maybe have a change of heart in a short period of time,
but a lot can happen to somebody in a very short period of time. So, you think
it’s possible, maybe he did decide to just take an adventure and then maybe
simply get caught up in something that kept him from coming back?
I’m praying that that’s what happened. I am praying, and do you know what would
make it much easier for me? If I knew that he had his green card or passport
with him.
TODD: But now, recently, you’ve done something with DNA.
NATALYA: Yes, and it happened just last week, finally, I do think, and I’m
not trying to blame anyone, but I do think that the way this process is going,
is wrong on many levels because they’ve been keeping me in suspense for months
after they requested the DNA to be formed. But, we mailed our DNA; I actually
took…performed three tests on me and my mother and my father, and we mailed it
back to the crime lab.
TODD: Uh huh.
NATALYA: I do know for sure that
they have a body that they suspect is my dear Arkadiy, even though they’re not
telling that to me, but I’m pretty much aware of how this process has been run,
so now we’re just waiting. The hardest part, of course, was to convince my
parents that this was just a routine thing, they do it after three years, and
I’m doing everything I can to shield them from all the pain because I know how
it is.
Every time you start hoping, maybe you’ll find him there and when you
realize that he’s not there, and it’s like you’re losing him all…
over again.
NATALYA: …all over again, and we’ve been through this ‘all over
again’ so many times, and I’m trying to shield them as much as possible from
TODD: So now, you’re actually preparing yourself for the possibility
that this could be your brother?
NATALYA: Yeah, but I’ve been preparing
myself for so long so it’s…
TODD: Just usual business of the day; you’ve had
three years to be preparing yourself for this.
NATALYA: Yeah. Unfortunately,
it’s never…I’m afraid this will never be usual, but this is just one of those
many times when you cry…it’s a rollercoaster, then all of a sudden you’re on top
of your hopes, “No, there is no way something is going to happen,” and you fly
back down again.
TODD: Uh huh.
NATALYA: But, I believe…I love life…
TODD: Uh huh.
NATALYA: …and it’s hard for me to believe that my brother
did not love life the way I did, and I know he did love his life as well, but
I’m just hoping that he’s not one of those unidentified bodies.
TODD: Do you
think, like you said you have a love of life and you hope he did as well, maybe
it wasn’t a choice, is it possible maybe he had a degree of depression? Maybe he
needed to be on some type of medication, and it happens a lot, with people
having to cope with society, you know sometimes you can’t.
Unfortunately, maybe because I never believed in depression…
TODD: Uh huh.
NATALYA: …that something like that exists. Once I was given an explanation
about what depression is, it’s like you wake up in the morning and you don’t
want to go to work, then I said, “Oh, aha, that I’m having.” But if he had any
type of depression, I’m afraid that if it’s true, I failed to recognize it.
TODD: I mean, we all go through depression, you know, periods of depression,
who doesn’t? You know sometimes you wake up, “This is a bad day and I don’t know
how I’m going to fix things.” You know, I worry about my son who’s getting older
and he’s going to leave home and you can get depressed real easy, but it’s when
you stay depressed.
NATALYA: Yeah. I think, yeah, unless it’s really
something like a chemical imbalance, I wish people can always do something about
something about depression, just force yourself to keep going forward…
NATALYA: …and that’s the best cure, unless it’s really something,
because depression is more of a mental state, but as long as you don’t give in
to it.
TODD: In this situation that you’re in, is that what you’re doing,
forcing yourself forward? Is that how you are able to go forward? I mean, this
is, honestly, I wouldn’t want to trade places with you. I wouldn’t want to have
to go through what you guys are going through personally, and I don’t know how I
would deal with it.
NATALYA: If you…I would actually say exactly the same if
you were talking before Arkadiy disappeared, but it was extremely hard to suffer
for the first three months, it was extremely hard because all I could
concentrate on was searching for Arkadiy. I was getting probably four hours of
sleep a day, I was lucky if I was getting that, but otherwise I called that
wasting precious time.
TODD: Uh huh.
NATALYA: I thought, “If I find him,
everything is going to be…everything will be magically fixed.” Everything, even
in my life, I thought everything would be magically fixed, but then when three
months went by and he was still…he still had not been heard from, I tried
different things. I tried diving into work. I tried everything, but what helped
me a lot was that, finally, the following summer after his disappearance, my
husband and I, we bought a house and we moved my parents in…
TODD: Uh huh.
NATALYA: …and now, it kind of gives the feeling that we’re more full of a
family. We’re a very, I think, we’re a very good family, and I also gave birth
to my second son; I was pregnant when Arkadiy disappeared.
TODD: And that
helps, having a busy family when you’re actually trying to tend to others’ needs
and you’ve got a baby that’s very demanding, I’m sure, no doubt about it.
NATALYA: And it keeps my parents from falling apart, to be honest with you.
They are babysitters during the day when my husband and I are working; they are
babysitters and it really keeps their minds partially off of the tragedy, but
it’s always like a shadow in a corner…
TODD: Uh huh.
NATALYA: …that
Arkadiy huge shadow, which sometimes we try to pretend, especially when we are
together, you know, we don’t want to bring each other down, otherwise my Mum can
break down and if she breaks down, I go right after that.
TODD: Do you find
yourself trying to avoid talking about it?
NATALYA: Not avoiding, but…yeah,
you can say it, avoiding, but still, or if we talk about it then it’s joyful;
something like, “Oh Mum, can you imagine, maybe he’s somewhere? What if he has a
child by now?”
TODD: Uh huh.
NATALYA: (Sighs) Wishful thinking.
TODD: Well, do you think it’s possible that he might have gone back to
NATALYA: His Russian was not so good. I think he would feel much
more of a stranger in Russia than here but, again, I’m not dismissing anything.
I did not even dismiss a chance that he might be in Bolivia with some global
TODD: Yeah, well, you’ve got to hang onto anything, anything that
you have that’s a hope, you know, you’ve got to hang onto it.
even if people are scammers and all they are trying is to get money out of you.
By the way, here is one advice, do not believe and never, never, ever…God forbid
something like that happens, someone who is claiming something in exchange for
money, no. Check it out, do not dismiss it, check it out, I almost had to
believe it, but apparently it was a scam.
TODD: So, what’s next now? You’re
waiting for the DNA, and obviously you’ve got to wait that out.
TODD: Um, where from there? If this is not him, what happens next?
NATALYA: I will do my best to get our DNA profiles into the National DNA
Database so that any other remains that were found across the country, can be
compared against ours. And, what’s next? The same, next. I will take one of
those overnight works to prevent teenage suicide and I’ll continue getting the
word out; printing more business-card-sized posters, and just giving them out.
There are many people, good people, that are willing to help, and there are many
people that are not ignorant to someone else’s tragedy, so everything is going
to go the same. We’ll be hoping, waiting, searching…it’s just never stopping,
never stopping, and it’s a part of my life now. I don’t even know how to live
any differently, to be honest with you.
TODD: It’s amazing what somebody can
get used to.
NATALYA: Yeah. Yeah, it is, but it just…it’s part of life now.
TODD: Well, for the next part of the show, we’re going to interview Paul
Thompson, and I think he’s been a good support system for you guys. He’s
certainly let a lot of people know about you. That’s where I came to know about
you. He’s a good cheerleader for you.
NATALYA: Oh, he’s much more than a
cheerleader. He contacted us, maybe two weeks after my brother’s disappearance,
because he contacted us because he saw a flyer, one of the flyers we had been
posting in our never-ending search for Arkadiy, and he got in touch with another
family that had a missing teenager, so we kind of could compare our notes.
TODD: Uh huh.
NATALYA: “Did you report the missing child there?” “Yes, I
did.” “Oh, by the way, I did it there, did you do it?” and, you know, how better
to put posters, where, how to print it, how to get the word out, and people to
connect to, local government and everything. So, he’s been…he even went to the
extreme, when we thought that Arkadiy might have committed suicide, so we were
going through local park areas, searching through woods, pretty much, he was the
one who was walking with us.
TODD: Now, what did you think about a stranger?
Now, you know he’s a nice guy now, but then, when you heard from just somebody
out of the blue, how was that?
NATALYA: Can you please repeat your question?
TODD: You know you just heard from this guy, Paul, and now you know he’s a
really great guy, but you know, you just got a phone call from him, and was that
NATALYA: No, it wasn’t strange because for those first two weeks
that I was looking for Arkadiy, I received, maybe two or three calls of support,
the rest were pranks, and all of a sudden, getting someone normal on the phone,
and my phone bill was skyrocketing…$1,000 every month because TV, newspapers,
radio stations, they were giving out my cell phone number, that’s how I was
asking them to do because I did not believe that police would not overlook
something, you know, I’m really used to relying on myself. And all of a sudden,
and I’d been getting so many prank calls and so many really nasty calls, and it
was really good for a change, to get a call from someone normal. I even had
calls, people would try to lure me into some places, it just was horrible, but I
have good, tough skin, and thank God.
TODD: Now, why do you think that
somebody would do that? Actually be so cruel as to call you and do that, why?
NATALYA: One reason I can tell you, and that’s probably the only phone call
that I answered, some of the guys gave me a call and they said, “Oh, if I was
your…” they thought he was my son because I was looking for him, but they were
saying horrible things, but one of them said, “If I was your son, I would have
killed myself,” and the only thing I could reply was, “You wish you were my son
because what you are doing right now just tells me that you’re afraid that if
you disappear, no one is going to be looking for you, that’s what you are afraid
of. And you’re jealous of Arkadiy because someone, there is a family that loves
him so much, they don’t care, they will go through everything in search for
TODD: Whatever it takes, right?
NATALYA: Whatever it takes,
seriously. And we hired private investigator, and believe me, I don’t think
there is anything we have not done.
TODD: Oh, my.
NATALYA: But Paul was
the very first honest person who is not looking to gain anything from our
tragedy, and who has a really big heart, and is doing everything he can to help
TODD: That he is. That he is. I see a lot of evidence of things that you
might not even know about that he tries to do. He always takes the time to tell
TODD: He just never told me how to pronounce
your last name.
NATALYA: I don’t think he can too.
TODD: I don’t think
he can either.
NATALYA: But it actually has a really good meaning in
Russian, it means sunny. Yeah, I know, sunny should be something short, but I
guess we never make it too easy for people.
TODD: Well, it’s been really
good talking to you. I’m going to get the second half of this from Paul, and get
some feedback from him, and we’ll say goodbye to everybody and then you and I
will talk just for a few more minutes. I’ve got a couple of things I want to ask
in private, but we’ll say goodnight to the audience and I’ll be right back with
Paul. Goodnight everybody.
NATALYA: Goodnight.
This concludes the first
part of this episode of Missing Pieces.
Please stay tuned for Part 2 -
Interview with Paul Thompson with the 'Cold Cases' group.
(Missing Pieces Host): And joining us for the second half is a friend of mine,
Paul Thompson. Welcome Paul.
PAUL THOMPSON: (Guest): Hi Todd.
are you doing?
PAUL: I’m doing fine.
TODD: Okay. I just did the first
part for the interview; I just finished with Natalya. I can’t pronounce her last
name and I don’t think you can either, but she did for us, Arkadiy’s sister.
PAUL: From what I understand, it’s Voskresenskaya.
TODD: Oh wow, it was
a long name, but no matter, we’ll spell it out right on the show, but lovely
lady, and I love her accent. We talked about you a little bit in that episode.
You know, she said that you were one of the first normal people that contacted
her; she’s gotten a lot of rough phone calls at first when her cell phone number
was posted and she’s really happy with you. She had a lot of nice comments about
you. And I know it’s scary and I said, “Was it scary hearing from somebody?” I
said, “He’s a stranger just reaching out from the blue,” and she said that she
was very open to it because you were one of the first normal people that really
tried to care and you walked beside of them often. Now, what made you pick up
that phone and call this family?
PAUL: Well, at the time, I was involved
with searching…helping another family, who live about two blocks away from my
home, search for their 14-year-old daughter, back in the beginning of 2005, in
January, and this is when he disappeared, when Arkadiy disappeared, and after a
few weeks, about four weeks after he disappeared, the mother of the young girl
who we were searching for, came across one of Arkadiy’s flyers on a supermarket
window, about a half a mile or so from where I live. She responded, I guess, and
called her up or…I don’t remember exactly how the initial contact happened, but
she told me about the flyer, and then she asked me, since I was doing so much to
help them, could I possibly do whatever I can to help Natalya and her family by
making contact with them too. I don’t remember if I actually called her, or what
exactly happened, but I think that the contact was through the girl’s mother,
then we met up later on at her house, which is, again, two blocks from where I
live. So, the initial contact between me and Natalya, from what I remember, came
when I met her at the young girl’s house with the mother, who I was assisting at
the time. And ever since then, it’s been like almost nonstop, we try to help in
whatever way we can. It’s not only me helping Natalya, there are quite a few
other people, like on the side and in the background, that I don’t even think
that Natalya has even talked to, but she has met a good friend, Carlos, who has
been quite active over the past two years helping me, and she met a few other
people that help me also.
TODD: Well, she’s a really nice lady. I think
they’ve done a lot to try to find him and there are a few things that I think I
might be able to help her with. I’ve got a couple of resources for a couple of
things that she is trying to achieve and I think I’ll be able to help her with
it. We talked privately for a little while before we connected up with you and
hopefully I’m going to draft you to help me with that…some of those things, so
I’ll definitely be talking to you more after we get done with the interview.
They’ve got a lot of things they can do yet, you know. So, they got a lot done,
but there are still quite a few things more that they can do, and I think she
wants to move forward and try anything.
PAUL: That’s right. Exactly.
Especially since, up to this point, it’s been rough not having even the
slightest bit of answers that she’s actually looking for.
TODD: Uh huh. It
must be tough, you know, coming here from a foreign country, for her parents,
and then this happening. You know, they’ve been here for quite a while but,
still, you know, can you imagine? I just can’t imagine what they’re going
through, but we’ll keep trying. You know, Paul is a long-time member of ‘Cold
Cases,’ I’ve known you for quite a while, and that’s how I actually heard of
this case, as a matter of fact, was through you, so you definitely have done a
lot to try to help this family, and I hope you will continue to do. In fact, I
know you will, I’ve no doubt about that.
PAUL: I’ve already made it clear
with everybody who is involved with helping me help them, that I’m going to be
right by Natalya’s side in her search for her brother for as long as it takes to
find out what happened, regardless of what the results are and regardless of how
long it takes, I’m going to be here until they get their answer, for sure.
TODD: And I think she’s prepared either way for this, you know, which ever
way this DNA test goes, I think, you know, like she said, “I’ve had three years
to prepare myself.” You know, I don’t know how soon the results are going to
come back, but we’re definitely going to have her back or, worse case scenario,
we probably would ask you to come back and help update our listeners as to
what’s happened and I’m hoping that she’s going to get good news between now and
then, obviously, so all we can do is keep looking, and you know we will.
PAUL: Definitely. And of course we can’t forget about all the other people
on ‘Cold Cases,’ there are some, besides myself that get involved in the overall
searching as well, I mean, just my being a ‘Cold Cases’ member, doesn’t mean
that I’m the only one on ‘Cold Cases’ that cares.
TODD: I mean, we have a
lot of good people, we have a mix, and I’m honest, we have a lot of people
because it’s a public message board and sometimes it’s difficult with some of
the things that we encounter there because there are people there sometimes that
are negative, and it’s hard to deal with it, but it’s the reality. You know,
just like Natalya got prank phone calls at first, it happens, and if you’re
going to deal with the public, it’s going to happen, and I think we’ve dealt
with these things in stride and we’re able to still move forward and find good
people, and usually if I ask somebody to help me do something on ‘Cold Cases,’ I
usually send them private notes so that we can do it without somebody
interfering, and we’ve managed to do that quite well, I think. We often have to
do that.
PAUL: Most of the time, or just about all the time, when that
happens, it’s definitely for the better, because there are some things that you
just can’t talk about and some things you can.
TODD: But it’s a good gauge
to public reaction. You know, if we see how people are going to react in ‘Cold
Cases’ and other public boards, you’ve got some idea of what to expect when you
into a national media, what you’re going to hear from the public, so I think it
helps prepare us. I’ve certainly learned a lot. I take a lot of things in
stride. I’ve seen a lot of people get upset with ‘Cold Cases’ at times because
they’re not really expecting some of the feedback, but I guess I’ve gotten used
to it over the years and sometimes it can get quite interesting, but I’m still
encouraged and I know it’s going to work out.
PAUL: I know we’ve seen our
share of interesting ‘happenings.’
TODD: Yes, we have. We have, you know,
and I’ve got people that would like nothing better than to do away with me, I
think, at times, and I don’t even know why; I don’t bother anybody. You know, I
don’t think I bother anybody, but it seems like some people just want to take
you down, no matter what. I don’t know why, but I think we’re trying to help
people and I know you are.
PAUL: Well, it’s like that in the real world too.
TODD: Yeah. I mean, it’s a slice of reality and that’s why I always think
that if we can’t handle it in ‘Cold Cases,’ we certainly are not going to handle
it in the real world very well.
PAUL: Exactly.
TODD: So, well, Paul, it
was good to have you here. We’ll have this out to the public and I’m counting on
you to help circulate it.
PAUL: Definitely.
TODD: All right. We’ll talk
to you soon. I’ll see you in ‘Cold Cases.’
PAUL: I’ll be here to the end,
whatever that end may be, you know.
TODD: Uh huh. We will try. All right,
we’ll say goodnight to everybody and I’ll be in touch with you a little later.
PAUL: Yes, definitely. Have a good night.
TODD: All right. Goodnight
PAUL: Thank you for having me, and of course, Natalya as well.
Arkadiy Tashman's Vitals:
Date of Birth: October 12, 1987
Date Missing: January 26, 2005
Age at Time of Disappearance: 17 years old
Missing From: Staten Island, NY
Height: 6' 0" to 6' 2"
Weight: 170 to 180 lbs.
Hair Color: Light Brown to Ash Blond
Eye Color: Light Gray/Blue
Piercings: Right ear
Scars/Marks: Scars on both arms
Clothing: Green baseball cap, light gray sweatshirt or sweat jacket, blue
jeans, black shoes.
Jewelry: Hoop earring.
If you have any information on Arkadiy's disappearance, please call the New York City Police Department at (212) 694-7781 or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
Please also visit Natalya's blog for Arkadiy at and the MySpace page for Arkadiy at

Found safe: David L. Azicri

From email notification I received April 29:
Dear Poster Partner:
David Azicri missing from Erie, PA, has been
recovered. Please discontinue dissemination of this poster. Your participation
in this program has made a valuable contribution to this recovery.
remove and discard any posters on this case that you have placed in public
Thank you for your support.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
Visit our web site at

More details from a news article from
'It's a wonder he's alive'
Missing Millcreek teen found in Philly, tutoring immigrants, selling

Published: May 02. 2008 6:00AM
Azicri, 16, of Erie has been missing since March 5th, 2008. (Contributed
The Millcreek Township teen who had been missing for almost two
months was found in a Philadelphia boarding house Monday, tutoring African
immigrants and selling Avon products to pay his rent.
Police and private investigators found 16-year-old David Azicri in a
southwestern Philadelphia neighborhood Monday evening. He returned to Millcreek
with his parents Wednesday, Millcreek police Lt. Dan Goodman said.
"We're thrilled to have him back," Nickie Azicri, David's mother, said
Thursday. "I think I'm still numb from it."
Nickie Azicri and David's father, Max Azicri, drove to Philadelphia to pick
up their son.
His family had said he disappeared after he was last seen waiting for the
bus near the family's house in the 4000 block of Ridgewood Drive, south of
McDowell High School, on March 5. He never showed up for school at Villa Maria
Academy that day.
David Azicri left town by himself, on his own, police and the family
"There will be no criminal charges resulting from this investigation,"
Millcreek police said in a statement.
David Azicri was found through phone records and tips from people he had
contacted after weeks of silence, Goodman said.
"Some of the information was provided by people he called on their phones,
which they willingly gave," Goodman said.
The family would not comment specifically on David's current whereabouts
Thursday. Police and the family's private detective, Daniel L. Barber, also
declined comment.
The family is working in conjunction with a local social service agency to
help David work through issues, Max Azicri said.
A rough part of Philly
David took the jobs tutoring and selling Avon products to pay his rent in
Philadelphia, his mother said.
He lived alone in the boarding house, paying $100 a week in rent, she said.
The room contained only a bed and a dresser. He shared a kitchen and a bathroom
with the other residents in the building.
On either side of David Azicri's building were houses with boarded windows,
and the neighborhood has a rough reputation. A Philadelphia private investigator
told Nickie Azicri he hesitated to go to the neighborhood at all, she
"It's a wonder he's alive, considering where he was living," she
Crime statistics for the area -- in the Philadelphia Police Department's
12th Police District -- were not immediately available.
Philadelphia Police Sgt. Brad Williams, who works in the district, said
that the area has its problems.
"As with the other districts, we do have our fair share of crime here -- as
far as drugs sales, homicides, thefts and that sort of thing," he said.
'Their support and love'
While David Azicri worked and lived in Philadelphia, the public joined in
his family's search.
Churches offered prayers for his safe return; people brought food to his
parents' home; volunteers offered to pass out fliers; and print shops offered to
produce more for free.
At least one man offered the tracking services of his bloodhound, Nickie
Azicri said.
"We want to thank the community, friends, media, Villa Maria Academy and
co-workers for their support in this very difficult period," Max Azicri
"We want to be allowed privately, as a family to reflect on this
Azicri was remembered in prayers at Mass and in the morning at Villa Maria
Academy, said the highs school's president, Geri Cicchetti. She said dome school
meetings opened with a prayer that he return to the school unharmed.
"The students have been praying for his safe return," Cicchetti said.
"Villa is very much a family, and I know the students were very glad to hear
he's been found safe."
Other friends, relatives and people they didn't know offered "support and
love," Nickie Azicri said.
"It made me feel good knowing that all of those people were praying for
him," she said. "The community was great."
CODY SWITZER can be reached at 870-1776 or by e-mail.