Crime & Courts

Guardians accused of killing 2-year-old boy in their St. Paul Island home, troopers say

A couple is accused of killing a 2-year-old boy who was in their care in St. Paul, Alaska State Troopers said Wednesday.

Joshua Rukovishnikoff was flown to an Anchorage hospital on Dec. 12 with a head injury, troopers wrote in an online statement. He died at the hospital that day, and his body was sent to the State Medical Examiner for an autopsy.

Troopers determined that his guardians, Steven Melovidov, 31, and Sophie Myers-Melovidov, 28, lied to investigators after killing him in their home, said troopers spokesman Austin McDaniel.

It was not immediately clear what motivated the couple to harm Joshua, he said.

The toddler’s mother, Nadesda Rukovishnikoff, died in September, McDaniel said. Her husband, Joshua Rukovishnikoff, was indicted on charges of second-degree murder, criminally negligent homicide, manslaughter and reckless endangerment in her death. He is still in custody and awaiting trial, according to court records.

Melovidov and Myers-Melovidov had been caring for Joshua since early October, according to McDaniel.

A warrant was issued on Dec. 22 for the arrest of Melovidov and Myers-Melovidov on charges of first- and second-degree murder and fourth-degree assault.

Severe weather prevented troopers from reaching St. Paul Island for nearly a week, McDaniel said. The town of just under 400 people is in the Pribilof Islands, about 300 miles west of mainland Alaska in the Bering Sea.

St. Paul Island Alaska

“There were daily efforts made by troopers to get out to St. Paul Island and a variety of rural travel logistics and issues presented there, including weather and aircraft availability,” he said.

On Tuesday, Melovidov and Myers-Melovidov were arrested, and on Wednesday they were taken to the Anchorage Correctional Complex, according to troopers.

[Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated which day Melovidov and Myers-Melovidov had been taken to the Anchorage Correctional Complex.]

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, focusing on breaking news. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota and previously helped cover the Nebraska Legislature for The Associated Press. Contact her at twilliams@adn.com.

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