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St. Paul couple accused of killing toddler who was in their care

Hope McKenney

Two people from St. Paul have been charged with killing a toddler who was in their care, according to troopers.

Earlier this month, 2-year-old Joshua Rukovishnikoff was medevaced to an Anchorage hospital with a serious head injury, according to a report Wednesday from Alaska State Troopers. He died at the hospital and his remains were sent to the State Medical Examiner for autopsy.

Troopers say after a thorough investigation, they determined the child’s guardians, 31-year-old Steven Melovidov and 28-year-old Sophie Myers-Melovidov, had killed him in their home and attempted to mislead investigators over the course of the investigation.

Troopers traveled to St. Paul on Tuesday and arrested the couple. They were taken to the Anchorage Correctional Complex.

This is the second murder investigation in a matter of months in the remote island community of about 350 people. The toddler’s mother, Nadesda “Lynnette” Rukovishnikoff, died in St. Paul in September, said troopers spokesperson Austin McDaniel. The toddler’s father, Joshua Rukovishnikoff, was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment.

Before that, there hadn’t been any homicides on the island since 2006, according to local police.

The City of St. Paul and St. Paul police declined to comment on the investigation into Rukovishnikoff’s death. The city said it’s an active and ongoing investigation being conducted by troopers.

Hope McKenney is a public radio news director, reporter, producer and host based in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska.
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