Investigators have closed their case on a murder-suicide investigation and determined one man was responsible for killing his family, a stranger and then himself.
The bodies of Natalya Lazukin, 26, and her three daughters, Angelica, 3, Zoe, nearly 2 years old, and Sulamia, 4 months old, were discovered on May 22.
Salem firefighters were called to the home at 5:28 a.m. at 2580 Fisher Rd. N.E. on reports of a fire.
At the time of the fire, the location of the woman's husband and father of the three girls, Nikolay Lazukin, 27, was unknown.
Investigators contacted the family and learned Natalya Lazukin's father received a text message from her phone that morning at 6:03 a.m., presumably after her death.
It read, "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. MY LAST FIGHT I HAVE LOST AT EXIT 174."
Salem detectives requested assistance from law enforcement agencies in Cottage Grove, which surrounds Exit 174 off Interstate 5.
Shortly thereafter, Nikolay Lazukin was found in the back seat of the family's Jeep Cherokee with a gunshot wound to his head.
AUTOPSIES & FIRE
Autopsies revealed his wife was killed by two gunshot wounds to her brain. Zoe Lazukin was also shot twice in the head, while the oldest daughter Angelica died from a single shot.
The youngest girl, Sulamia, died of traumatic asphyxiation, according to the Oregon State Medical Examiner's Office.
Investigators said they found partial loaves of bread with bullet holes in the family's home and in the bed of one of the children.
Police said Nikolay Lazukin used the loaves of bread to try and suppress or silence the sound of gunfire.
Arson investigators said three areas of fire damage were found in the home, along with the remains of a 5-gallon plastic gas can that had melted down to the base.
An autopsy ruled the cause of death for Nikolay Lazukin to be suicide.
Investigators said there is absolutely no medical evidence to suggest he suffered any trauma from any other person or that his death was the result of anything other than a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Further toxicology results revealed no controlled substances or common pharmaceuticals in his system. His blood alcohol content was .01.
Despite the evidence, Natalya's brother Andre But said the family isn't convinced of Nikolay Lazukin's guilt.
"It's very hard to go with the theory that it was Nick afterall because these things do not add up whatsoever," he said.
But said Nikolay Lazukin loved his family.
"It's just simply the most convenient and easiest (explanation) because it saves a lot of people a lot of trouble. I'm not trying to be biased here and people may think I'm in denial or whaetver. I Just know that there are still a lot of unanswered questions. A lot of loose ends," he said.
Investigators said Nikolay Lazukin also killed a man named Devin Matlock, 21. His body was found near the home on Fisher Road the same morning.
Matlock's close friends said he was with them for dinner and a late night movie at the Lancaster Commons Apartments in Salem the night before.
He walked from there to his home on Wayside Terrace N.E. before 2 a.m. His friends said he took the same route every time he visited them.
A bat was found in Nikolay Lazukin's jeep with blood on it that was revealed to be from Matlock by DNA testing.
There is no indication the two men had ever met or that Matlock knew any member of Lazukin's family.
WOMAN PICKED UP
Surveillance video from businesses near the two homicide scenes captured Nikolay Lazukin's Jeep on camera around the time they likely happened.
At 3:38 a.m. May 22, a woman was seen getting out of his car in the Walmart parking lot on Fisher Road. Cameras caught the jeep leaving at 4:06 a.m. and the woman never got back inside.
Police identified the woman as Christine Lowe, 27.
She said Nikolay Lazukin was sitting in his Jeep near a motel in the area and got her attention. He gave her a ride and told her he was looking for cocaine.
Police said he then asked if she would go to Hawaii or Mexico with him.
The pair drove to his house and Lowe said he removed what she thought was ammunition for a gun out of his glove box.
"It's impossible to describe unless you were there. Being in a place where that is happening and you don't realize that it is," Lowe said.
He then went inside while Lowe stayed in the car. Upon returning, Nikolay Lazukin asked whether Lowe heard the fight he just had with his ex-wife, as he described her.
She said she did not hear anything.
Nikolay Lazukin then asked whether she would remember talking with him if police contacted her. She said she would.
Nikolay Lazukin gave her $25 to purchase a cell phone and drove her to Walmart. She said she expected him to be waiting for her when she was done shopping, as she left her personal belongings in his Jeep, but he took off.
"I had nothing to do with the fire. I was just a bystander at the wrong place at the wrong time," Lowe told FOX 12.
Her stuff was found off I-5 near Cottage Grove.
Police said Lowe fully cooperated with investigators, provided hair and DNA samples and agreed to polygraph testing, which found her to be truthful.
In an interview with FOX 12, Lowe wouldn't comment on her conversations with Lazukin, but said he doesn't think he could murder his family and a stranger.
NO PRIOR REPORTS
Police have no prior reports of domestic violence regarding Nikolay and Natalya Lazukin.
Authorities on Monday said he is solely responsible for the deaths of his family and Matlock.
No grand jury will be convened and no charges will be filed in this case because the sole suspect is dead.
Lazukin's family offered up a statement Monday night saying: "Nick loved his family, and we still do not believe he did this. We feel betrayed by the Salem Police Department, who did not look at all of the evidence surrounding his death. We feel the case is not closed. We plan to hire an outside agent to look into the case in an unbiased fashion."
Copyright 2012 KPTV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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