International conviction in Gatlinburg cold case

International conviction in Gatlinburg cold case


6 News Reporter

GATLINBURG (WATE) – There's been a conviction in a Gatlinburg cold case that's more than a decade old.

Vladimir Yemelyanov and Sufiya Arslanova were murdered in 2002. Their remains were discovered in 2010.

The pair's roommate, Yuri Solovyev, who was always the main suspect in the case, has now been convicted for the murders in Russia.

All three were in Gatlinburg on seasonal work visas at the time.

The case makes history because it's the first time someone accused of a homicide on US soil, was on trial for the crime in Russia, not the US. That's because Russia has no extradition treaty.

The story began as a Gatlinburg apartment found bloody and ransacked in July 2002.

Yemelyanov and Arslanova were missing. Their roommate, Solovyev, was the main suspect in the case.

"There were no bodies recovered at that time. There was evidence of a homicide, blood in the studio apartment, and other items found in the trunk of his car," explained US Attorney Bill Killian.

After 2010, when the victims' bodies were discovered, there was finally evidence to show Solovyev murdered them, stole $19,000 and used their credit cards. He was on TBI's most wanted list, but the problem was Solovyev had fled to Russia.

"I'm convinced Mr. Solovyev thought he was getting out of being prosecuted by going back to his homeland of Russia," Killian explained.

But the pair's death would not be in vain. Investigators in the US hooked up with investigators in Russia.

"We had video conferencing with Russian detectives and prosecutors at the Department of Justice," Killian said.

After a historic trial, Solovyev was convicted in late December.

"This is the first time Russia has agreed to prosecute a homicide case that occurred in the US by a Russian citizen, so that's a landmark occurrence," he said.

Solovyev will be sentenced in the weeks ahead.

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