Details of Disappearance
Malezhik was last seen walking out the lobby of her apartment building the 400 block of Corbin Place in the New York City borough of Brooklyn at 1:40 p.m. on October 15, 2007. She has never been heard from again. A friend reported her missing on November 8. She left all her belongings and identification behind at home.
The day after Malezhik's disappearance, four checks signed with her name were deposited in the joint bank account of Dmitriy and Julia Yakovlev. Authorities later determined Malezhik's signature had been forged. The Yakovlevs allegedly got a credit card in Malezhik's name the day after the checks were deposited.
In July 2009, they were charged with stealing Malezhik's identity and stealing more than $37,000 in bank withdrawals and credit card charges. Julia and Dmitriy allegedly used Malezhik's money to go on a shopping spree and bought, among other things, expensive matching wristwatches.
Prior to her disappearance, Malezhik told others she was expecting a call from someone she knew only as Dmitriy and that she was afraid. Dmitriy and Julia maintained their innocence and her case; they stated they didn't know her and theorized she had returned to her native Ukraine. Investigators could find no evidence that Malezhik left the United States, however.
Later, Dmitriy admitted he did in fact know Malezhik. He stated she had tutored him in English and he lent her money to buy furniture. Photos of both Julia and Dmitriy are posted with this case summary. He is a native of Russia, where he trained as a surgeon.
In March 2010, Dmitry was additionally charged with Malezhik's murder. He was also charged in the death of Viktor Alekseyev, a jewelry importer whose dismembered body was found in New Jersey in January 2006. When police dug up the Yakovlevs' basement looking for Malezhik's body in 2009, they didn't find it but they did find some items that had belonged to Alekseyev. They also found a pair of thong underwear hidden; DNA on it matched Malezhik.
The Yakovlevs are also suspects in the disappearance of Michael Klein, a New York Police Department employee who was also an identity theft victim. He went missing in 2003, shortly after selling his house, and has never been found. Photographs and vital statistics for Klein are unavailable. Authorities found a set of his keys in the Yakovlevs' home.
Dmitry was charged with stealing his identity, but he has not been charged with anything directly related to his disappearance. Dmitry admitted to using Alekseyev's and Malezhik's credit cards, but he stated they owed him tens of thousands of dollars and had given him permission to use the cards as repayment for the debt.
Julia pleaded guilty to identity theft and credit card fraud in February 2011, just before her trial was scheduled. She maintains she had nothing to do with Malezhik's disappearance and doesn't know her whereabouts. In March, Dmitry was convicted of all fifteen charges against him, including Malezhik's and Alekseyev's murders. He was sentenced to thirty years in prison.
Dmitry died of throat cancer in prison. Julia has since been released.
Malezhik was employed as a federal court translator at the time of her disappearance. She had worked on sensitive cases involving Medicaid fraud and organized crime, but police don't believe her job was connected to her disappearance.
Malezhik's parents live in Ukraine and she has no relatives in the United States. She is an American citizen and is described as a quiet, private person who was heavily involved in her work. Foul play is suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved.