By Tom Roussey
It's been over two months since UNC Charlotte student Ira Yarmolenko was found dead. Her killer is still on the loose. The Yarmolenko family says it can't have peace until whoever murdered her is caught.
"We're trying to to to work and function normally, and prepare dinners and lunches and sit down and function as a family," said Pavel Yarmolenko, Ira's brother. But he says the search for her killer is always on the family's mind.
"Currently that's all we think about," he said. "We want this person caught."
Yarmolenko was found dead on May 5th near the banks of the Catawba River. The car had been taken down a dirt path near the Water's Edge development that's still partially under construction. Yarmolenko was lying next to her car. Police say the cause of death was asphyxiation.
The family has hung flyers with Ira's picture and information about the murder all over Mt. Holly. They're hoping they will help catch the killer.
But the Yarmolenko's say some strange things have happened. Someone has ripped a number of the flyers they hung up down.
Another odd -- and disturbing -- thing happened back in Chapel Hill, where someone had the gall to vandalize Ira's grave, ripping up flowers people had sent in.
"My mom planted them there and she came back the next morning to find all of them completely dug up with their roots, and a ceramic vase was broken there as well," said Pavel.
One other strange thing -- Pavel says someone stole Ira's bike off the UNC Charlotte campus in the weeks after she died. He said it was clearly not worth much.
"All of the other bikes in front of that hall were there and not stolen, but my sister's bike and her friend's bike that were chained together were stolen."
The family isn't sure if these are all coincidences or related to the killer.
"We would really like for things like this to stop," said Pavel. "It would help our family try to start healing after this."
As for the efforts to catch the killer, Mt. Holly police are still waiting on important DNA tests from the state and FBI. Even thought it's been over two months, they're not done.
"It has been a long time," said Mt. Holly police chief David Belk. Belk says he had expected to get the results within the last week, but as of Wednesday was still waiting.
Pavel says it's frustrating that the wait has been so long, but he said he doesn't want the tests to be rushed.
"We'd rather have them take their time with it and analyze it properly than rush it," he said.
But Pavel also says he wishes the state of North Carolina would put more resources into its crime lab.
"The answer for why it's taking so long seems to be a giant backlog in cases," he said. "They're just needs to be more personnel and more equipment devoted to this."
Despite the delay and the fact that it's been over two months with no arrest, Pavel's says his family remains optimistic the killer will be caught.