Trail of suspect in teen's death ends in Missouri



Two 17-year-old boys, one of them the suspected murderer, were arrested Wednesday near St. Louis, Mo. in connection with the stabbing death of another teenager near Federal Way last Sunday.

Nikolay Sloboda was jailed on $1 million bail on an arrest warrant accusing him of homicide. Also being held in St. Louis was Ilya Melnik on suspicion of assault.

They allegedly were involved in a fight at about 1:30 a.m. with Michael Behm, 18, after following a car containing Behm and a friend. The cars pulled over in the 37000 block of 28th Avenue South and the ensuing altercation ended with Behm being stabbed. He died at the scene.

The vehicle the suspects were in Sunday was found the next day by investigators, but the suspects were believed to be on the run in a different car apparently owned by Melnik. Authorities caught up with them after a Missouri State Highway Patrol officer realized a 1995 Honda Accord he saw on Interstate 70 about 40 miles from St. Louis was Melnik’s. Information on the car and the suspects had been sent to police agencies nationwide, said John Urquhart, spokesman for the King County Sheriff Department.

Shortly after 9:40 a.m., the car exited the freeway. The trooper stopped it and arrested Sloboda and Melnik without incident.

A third man in the car also was taken into custody. His identity or involvement with the others wasn’t immediately reported by authorities,

Urquhart said the suspects didn’t know the victim, but all three were residents of Federal Way, where Sloboda is a junior at Decatur High School. Melnik was a student in the Federal Way Public Schools system through seventh grade. Information on what he’s done since then wasn’t available.

Urquhart said Behm was the son of a Sheriff Department deputy. The deputy’s name wasn’t released because of the department’s confidentiality rules in such cases.

Another deputy tried unsuccessfully to revive Behm at the scene of Sunday’s incident.

The investigation of what caused the incident is continuing. Two Sheriff Department detectives were sent Wednesday to St. Louis to interview Sloboda and Melnik. A date for the suspects’ return to Washington depends on whether they fight extradition.

The amount of bail for Sloboda is normal for a homicide in which the suspect is a fugitive, according to Urquhart.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565,

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