At 5:30 A.M. on May 22, 2012, Salem Police Department in Marion County, Oregon reacted to a fire in a single-family house. The house was light green with a grey fence. It seemed to be just a typical house until the fire was put out and investigators made an alarming finding in the attic.
In the attic, they discovered the corpses of Natalya Lazukin, 26, and her daughters Angelica,3, Zoe, 1, and Sulamia, 4 months. It seems the whole family was there, but one… The husband Nikolay Lazukin was nowhere to be found.
As daylight reached rapidly neighbors glimpsed that something was unique about this investigation. Rosa Chavez, 30, told the Oregonian, she was up until 2 a.m., and even walked outside before heading to bed and didn’t listen to a commotion. She told me the lights of the home were not on. She woke up this morning and found police had been encircling the neighbor’s house since about 5:30 a.m. Chavez glimpsed that many windows of the house had been blown out. She said she also glimpsed the explosives squad outside the area assisting in the investigation.
“It’s not black or charred. I guess they caught it before anything went up. There’s just windows out,” Chavez said. “The back door window and the attic window are blown out.
Chavez said she’s resided in the neighborhood for a year and a half, and the family across the street hasn’t been there as long. One of their cars – a red-and-green Subaru – stays in the driveway. She said that the couple seemed to be in their 30s or 40s, but she said she never saw kids outside the home.
“Once in a great while, I’ll notice them outside doing something in their yard,” she said.
At 4:23 AM just a few blocks away Oregon State Police had already been active. A delivery driver called police when he discovered the corpse of a dead man lying in the road near Devonshire Avenue NE in the 2800 block of Fisher Road NE about four blocks away from where the four corpses were later discovered. This corpse would later be recognized as Devin Matlock, 21. At the beginning of the inquiry, Police thought these were different crimes as Matlock was being examined as a suicide. Later, the medical examiner would report that Matlock’s reason for death was abrupt force trauma to the head.
As the day went on Police had one crucial question annoying them. Where was the husband? Where was Nikolay Lazukin?
At 11 am
At 11 a.m. 1 hour and 27 minutes South (85 miles) in Cottage Grove, Oregon a corpse was discovered in a car deceased for a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the parking lot of a Comfort Inn just off Interstate 5. This corpse was reported as male and later recognized as Nikolay Lazukin, 27. Upon scouring the car for seven hours Police found the gun and a baseball bat covered in blood. A records check of Nick Lazukin indicated mostly traffic citations. Nonetheless, court records show that in December 2005, he pleaded guilty to disorderly code and was required by a Marion County Court judge to complete eight hours of anger management classes. He finalized the classes in April 2006.
Friends say the family indicated no outward indications of distress. Nick worked and took classes full-time at Chekemeta Community College while Natalya worked as a dental assistant.
After the autopsies were disclosed the next day (May 23rd, 2012) it was reported that the mum and the two oldest daughters perished of gunshot wounds, nonetheless, the youngest exhibited no signs of gunshots. Dr. Larry Lewman, from the state medical examiner’s office, said the Oregonian that the third kid, a 4-month-old infant, nicknamed Sefi most probably perished of asphyxiation.
At 8 p.m. on May 23, 2012, a memorial service was schemed at the home by members of Salem’s Slavic Christian Church. Pastor Vyacheslav Boynetskiy, who speaks Russian, told in an interview that the family attended his church for several years. He called the casualties a tragedy.
“I don’t know what occurred, why. For me, there are numerous questions,” he said.
Meanwhile, the administrator at the Slavic Christian Church, which the family had attended for many years, said the Slavic community in the Salem region is reeling over what seems to be the loss of a whole family.
“It’s not a big Slavic community here in Salem so everybody known somebody who knew Nikolay and Natalya,” said Peter Ignatovich. “It is shocking.”
He added that “it is extremely shocking that Nick is being characterized as someone who would commit all these crimes because it never came across that Nick would do this to his children.
“He loved them and adored them and would do everything that a good father would do.”
Ignatovich characterized the Lazukins as a “very happy couple.”
“It would make way more sense if there was some sort of hint,” he said.
Ignatovich told he was under the impression that Nikolay Lazukin had been a student at Chemeketa and told he thought the young man was studying nursing.
Chemeketa Community College spokesman Greg Harris said Lazukin began full-time at the Salem two-year college in 2003 but attended sporadically. He was enrolled presently as a full-time student.
“All the assumptions are just speculations now,” he said. “We don’t know what resulted in this or what happened.”
Police were examining the Lazukin family murder-suicide and Devin Matlock’s demise with two separate teams Lt. Dave Okada, a spokesman for the Salem Police Department said “We have two teams of investigators acting on both occurrences and they are still different investigations, If the investigations merge at some point we will say what we think happened.”
Matlock’s mum, Colleen Matlock, said she has received scant data from the police. When officers came to her door they notified her that her son was dead and they were examining his demise as a possible hit-and-run. “He wasn’t hit by a car,” she said, adding that the funeral director told her, “His head was shattered in and so was his face.”
Police proceeded to examine the two cases individually, but Nick’s brother, Artem Lazukin, and other would-be sleuths couldn’t think that Nick could do this. Artem even posted horrible photographs of his brother’s corpse after the autopsy had been finalized to social media resulting in the speculations to fly across the platform.
The pictures show Lazukin’s head, the top wrapped in a green towel, with puffy, dark, and bruised eyes and a red cloth tucked under his neck. His skin is mottled, with dark red splotches above his nose and what seem to be marks or slashes on one shoulder.
The situation of Lazukin’s corpse is consistent with death by a gunshot wound to the head, said Oregon State Medical Examiner Dr. Karen Gunson.
Still, an assumption posted on Facebook implies darker events: someone abducted Nikolay Lazukin and urged him to drive to a Cottage Grove motel and text a note to loved ones before shooting him in the head.
Another assumption, accompanied by a post-autopsy picture of his slain brother, suggested that his injuries were beyond what Lazukin could have done to himself:
“I know people will begin talking more about this, but Nick is innocent. He was discovered dead in the jeep. His throat is cut, all his fingers broken, his ankles broken, his eyes knocked out. Looking at the information there were more than 3 people involved in this killing,” Artem Lazukin posted. (This information was not correct.)
A commenter agreed, posting this reply:
“This looks as if some kind of gang was involved in this, everything is planned out and Carried out Hitman style.”
Another offered this: “The people that did it were very skilled, barely left any evidence behind. Only a little evidence was regained from the home, seeing as how they set it on fire.”
Among the other statements swirling online: whether the casualties this week are related to the death two weeks ago of Tatyana Tupikova, 22, murdered in an unsolved hit-and-run in Battle Ground on May 11.
“People enjoy conspiracy assumptions,” said Dr. Gunson. But in Lazukin’s case, his remains explain a straightforward story.
“I think they’re blundering our autopsy for injuries,” said Gunson.
During an autopsy, a forensic pathologist slashes ribs, discards the chest plate and every organ in the chest and abdomen, and opens up the skull, Gunson said. “We’re glancing from top to bottom. All his organs were normal. He didn’t have an injured spleen.
Blood settles in the body after demise according to gravity. In the case of a corpse slumped over a steering wheel, it would be typical to discover swelling and hemorrhaging of the eyes, brows, lips, and nose.
“(Lazukin) perished of a gunshot wound to his head,” Gunson added. “Remember, this is a guy they guess shot his family and set his home on fire, so it wouldn’t be extraordinary for him to have bruises or cuts. But no information of blunt force trauma would result in a person to be unconscious or that he’s been beaten up or anything.”
The rumors encircling a horrible case don’t shock police, Okada said.
“That’s not totally extraordinary, families, they’re going through a lot of trauma right now, there’s a lot of emotion. Our investigators are keeping up in very close connection with the family, to make sure there is no communication gap. Very near contact. There are things that we can not tell the family, or anybody because we’re still investigating.”
Police would go on to reject all of these theories.
Salem Police called police in Cottage Grove, which is along Interstate 5 where exit 174 is located. They discovered Lazukin dead in his Jeep Cherokee with a gun near his hand. Investigators told them he committed suicide.
Police also discovered a baseball bat that had Matlock’s blood on it. Dr. Larry Newman, with Oregon Medical Examiner’s Office, said Matlock perished of blunt force head injuries and suffered a broken nose, jaw, and cranium. Newman said it also seemed Lazukin had stomped on Matlock’s face with his shoe.
Marion County Sheriff’s investigators were never eligible to discover an intention for the murders. He had never met Devin before. Devin had been just barely walking home from a friend’s apartment. Matlock’s friends told investigators that he ate feast with them and watched a video at the apartment in the 2400 block of Coral Avenue Northeast before walking home before 2 a.m. They said his normal way included Fisher Road.
Surveillance video from a Wal-Mart on Lancaster Drive Northeast indicated the Jeep twice driving on Fisher Road Northeast about 1:50 a.m. At one point, investigators said, it halted at Fisher Road and Devonshire Avenue for about two minutes. That’s where a delivery driver later sighted Matlock’s corpse.
Over the course of the inquiries, they questioned more than 100 people. They found out that Nick had been driving around all night attempting to discover some cocaine. One Witness Christina Lowe, 27, who was noticed on surveillance video leaving the Super 8 motel at 2:30 A.M. with Nick on May 22, told the Detectives the following:
As Lowe walked across the parking lot, Lazukin shouted at her from his Jeep to get her attention, investigators said. Lowe and Lazukin had never greeted before. Lowe told police that Lazukin decided to give her a ride when she asked. Lukin told her he resided with his ex-wife and three children, and he was out looking for cocaine. Lowe told police Lazukin begged her if she needed to go to Hawaii or Mexico with him. The two drove back to Lazukin’s house, where Lowe waited in the car while he went inside to get cash, police said. As he got out of the SUV, Lazukin took what Lowe thought were ammunition magazines for a gun out of the glove box. When Lazukin came back, he asked Lowe if she could listen to him quarreling with his ex-wife. She said no, according to investigators. Lazukin also begged her if she would recall him in case the police ever called her. She told him she would. Lazukin drove Lowe to Wal-Mart and gave her $25 to buy a cell phone. Lowe went in the store alone, and Lazukin was gone when she came back out. Some of Lowe’s belongings were discovered along Interstate 5 near Cottage Grove. He would then go on to murder his family, set the family house on fire, and send a text to his wife’s cell phone after her demise. What Lowe hadn’t known was when Nick had gone into the home to get the cash leaving her in his jeep, Natalya Lazukin was shot twice in the skull. The oldest daughter, Angelica, was shot once in the skull and the middle daughter, Zoe, was shot twice in the skull, according to the state medical examiner’s office. Baby Sulamia (Sefi) perished of traumatic asphyxiation in her crib in the master bedroom.
Nick Lazukin utilized loaves of bread to muffle the shots from a .380 handgun that a family member had given him, investigators said. After murdering his family, he circulates gasoline in the attic stairway, the entrance to the older girls’ bedroom, and the master bedroom, then sets them all ablaze.
Lazukin drove around the region and saw the delivery truck driver find Matlock’s corpse along Fisher Road Northeast, about 500 yards from the family house, a little before 4:30 a.m., investigators said. He turned around and drove away. The driver phoned the police.
About 5:30 a.m., a neighbor saw smoke at the Lazukin house and called firefighters, who discovered the corpses of the mum and her kids.
Lazukin drove onto Interstate 5 and headed south, investigators said. He halted in a motel parking lot near Exit 174 in Cottage Grove, where he texted his father-in-law from his wife’s iPhone.
Natalya Lazukin’s dad told investigators that he received the text message a little after 6 a.m. It demonstrated the exit where Nick Lazukin’s corpse eventually was discovered.
“Please forgive me. They took control of my body and did it. I BEGGED THEM NOT TO BUT THEY DID. I’m so sorry. PLEASE GOD FORGIVE ME. THE LAST FIGHT I HAVE LOST WAS AT EXIT 174.