Yulia Kumirova News

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Valley woman vanishes from Glendale gym

Saturday, November 1, 2003 -- By azfamily.com and NewsChannel 3

A Valley woman went to the gym to work out Friday night and has not been seen since.

Yuliya Kumirova's husband reported her missing Saturday morning and Glendale police are treating her disappearance as suspicious.

Kumirova, 38, was last seen at the L.A. Fitness on Bell Road in Glendale at about 8 p.m. Her white van was discovered in the parking lot just west of the building. Police said a "fairly large quantity" of blood was on the ground next to the vehicle.

Police do know that Kumirova made it inside the building. They said her membership card had been swiped. What happened to her after that, however, is a mystery.

Kumirova's husband called the police Saturday morning when she still had not come home.

"He actually came to the business here," said Sgt. Brent Coombs of the Glendale Police Department. "Some employees [and Kumirova's husband] found her van in the parking lot."

A man who spoke to NewsChannel 3 but did not want to be identified told officers he saw a folded T-shirt and sneakers on the ground next to the van.

Kumirova is a white female of Russian descent and reportedly speaks little English. [Incorrect -- good English.] She is 5-feet, 3-inches tall, weighs 110 pounds and has brown hair and brown eyes.

Anybody with information about Kumirova's disappearance is asked to call the Glendale Police Department at (623) 930-3000.


Missing Valley woman believed dead 

Sunday, November 2, 2003 -- By azfamily.com Staff 

Based on evidence collected so far, investigators looking into the disappearance of Valley woman believe they have a homicide on their hands, police said Sunday.

According to Sgt. Matt Brown of the Glendale Police department, investigators believe Yuliya Kumirova was killed and her body dumped in a desert area north of Glendale or even north of the Valley. [Also it is possible she was placed in a dumpster.]

Police are not releasing any details about they evidence they have collected at this point.

Brown said investigators had searched a desert location north of Glendale Sunday morning, but did not find anything.

Kumirova, 38, was last seen at the L.A. Fitness on Bell Road in Glendale Halloween night. 

Her white van was discovered in the parking lot just west of the building. Police said a "fairly large quantity" of blood was on the ground next to the vehicle.

Brown said the husband is not considered a suspect at this time and that investigators do not have any suspects right now. 

Kumirova is a white female of Russian descent and reportedly speaks little English. She is 5-feet, 3-inches tall, weighs 110 pounds and has brown hair and brown eyes.

Anybody with information about Kumirova's disappearance is asked to call the Glendale Police Department at (623) 930-3000.


Case of missing Valley woman takes bizarre turn

Police release few details, but say suspect is dead

Monday, November 3, 2003

By azfamily.com Staff -- www.fox11az.com/news -- Tucson

Police announced a bit of a bizarre turn as they investigate the disappearance -- believed to be the murder -- of a Valley woman who vanished from a Glendale L.A. Fitness on Halloween night.

While detectives have not released any details about the suspect in this case, other than to say it is a white male, Sgt. Matt Brown of the Glendale Police Department said Monday that the suspect is dead.

Brown said detectives found a 1997 red pickup truck that they believe was involved in the disappearance of Yuliya Kumirova.

Kumirova, 38, was last seen at the L.A. Fitness Friday night. Brown said the man investigators believe to be the suspect had checked in at the gym just an hour before Kumirova arrived.

According to Brown, witnesses reported seeing Kumirova arguing with a man outside the gym near where her van was found Saturday morning after her husband reported her missing. Blood was discovered on the ground beside the van, police said.

Brown also said that witnesses have told investigators they saw a man force Kumirova into the pickup that police now have. Brown said investigators believe the suspect dumped Kumirova's body in a desert area north of Glendale or even north of the Valley. [Also it was possible that she was placed in a dumpster]

Detectives are awaiting lab results that will allow them to definitely place the pickup at the gym at the time Kumirova vanished.

Police will not release anything else about the suspect, including details about how or when he died or where he was found. Brown did say, however, that the suspect and the truck were not found in the same location.


Phoenix police ask for public's help in missing woman case

Arizona Daily Sun, Flagstaff & Northern Arizona -- www.azdailysun.com

November 3, 2003

PHOENIX (AP) -- Glendale police believe that a Phoenix woman who never returned home from working out Friday night was murdered.

The white van that Yuliya Kumirova, 38, drove to an L.A. Fitness was found in club's parking lot Saturday morning along with large amounts of blood next to it.

"We do believe, based on the evidence, that this lady has been killed," said Glendale police spokesman Matt Brown, who said detectives asked that he not elaborate on specific details of the crime.

Police know Kumirova went to work out at 8 p.m. Friday and checked into the club. It is unclear if or when she checked out, Brown said.

Kumirova's husband drove to L.A. Fitness on Saturday morning when she failed to come home, and then contacted police.

Brown said that her husband is not being looked at as a suspect, and that detectives have no suspects yet.

However, police suspect Kumirova's body was dumped or buried in the desert somewhere north of Phoenix or Glendale. A search of that area Sunday morning turned up nothing.

Police ask that anyone with information on Kumirova call (623) 930-3000.


Glendale dead man key in probe of Phoenix teacher's abduction advertisement

Brent Whiting -- The Arizona Republic -- Nov. 5, 2003

A 44-year-old north Glendale man emerged Tuesday as the likely focus of an investigation into the suspected murder of a west Phoenix teacher.

Neighbors said the man, whose identity police won't confirm, was found dead Sunday at his home north of Deer Valley High School, 18424 N. 51st Ave.

One neighbor, Gary Cohen, said Glendale police were at the house throughout the day Tuesday and later could be seen searching the Skunk Creek Wash north of the neighborhood.

Cohen and other neighbors also said the man drove a pickup truck like one believed by Glendale police to have been used in the abduction of Yuliya B. Kumirova.

Cohen said he really didn't know the neighbor, other than to say hello.

On Monday, police put a red-over-gray Dodge pickup truck on display, saying it belonged to a dead man suspected of abducting or killing Kumirova.

They declined to discuss the circumstances leading to the man's death, other than to say an autopsy was pending and there were no signs of trauma.

Police also said the man's name won't be disclosed pending DNA analysis of blood stains found inside the truck.

Kumirova, 38, a math teacher at Trevor G. Browne High School, vanished Friday from the parking lot of the LA Fitness sports club, 5536 W. Bell Road, police said.

Her body hasn't been found and police believe that she has probably been killed.

Reach the reporter at brent.whiting@arizonarepublic.com  or (602) 444-6937.


Suspect's name is released

Missing woman presumed dead

Brent Whiting -- The Arizona Republic -- Nov. 20, 2003

GLENDALE - Police on Wednesday released the name of a dead man they consider a suspect in the disappearance and presumed murder of a west Phoenix teacher.

Thomas J. Wieduwilt, 44, was found dead Nov. 2 inside his north Glendale home. The apparent cause of death was a "self-induced overdose of pills," a police spokesman said.

The discovery came after Yuliya B. Kumirova, 38, of Phoenix, vanished Oct. 31 from the parking lot of the LA Fitness sports club at 5536 W. Bell Road, police said.

Kumirova, who remains missing, worked as a math teacher at Trevor G. Browne High School and a part-time math instructor at Glendale Community College.

Police said blood found in the LA Fitness parking lot near her van has been matched to blood found inside a pickup truck owned by Wieduwilt, a computer programmer.

Investigators are unsure of the relationship between Kumirova and Wieduwilt, if any, but say both were at the fitness club at the same time.

Police said evidence found inside his truck and home lead them to believe he was involved in her disappearance.



Possible murder suspect identified in missing Russian immigrant case

By Jim Small -- Glendale Star -- November 26

Yulia Kumirova, 38, of Phoenix, disappeared Oct. 31 from a Glendale LA Fitness. A witness saw a man throwing a woman into a truck matching the description of the suspect's vehicle. (File photo) 

Glendale Police Detectives have identified a suspect believed to be responsible for the disappearance and possible murder of a Phoenix woman.

DNA tests on blood found inside the vehicle of the only suspect in the case confirm that Yulia Kumirova was in Thomas Wieduwilt's maroon 1997 Dodge Ram truck. The testing was done by the Department of Public Safety.

"Her blood did appear in the vehicle," police spokesperson Brian Wilkins said.

The blood in the truck was matched to blood found at what police believe to be where Kumirova was abducted.

Kumirova, 38, of Phoenix, was reported missing Nov. 1. She was last seen the night before at a Glendale LA Fitness at 5536 W. Bell Rd.

"She's still missing," Wilkins said. "We haven't found her yet."

Witnesses told police that a man threw a woman into a red Dodge pick-up truck in the west parking lot of LA Fitness at approximately 10:00 p.m. Oct. 31.

A large amount of blood and some clothing were found in the parking lot near the reported abduction.

Wilkins said the police department believes Kumirova is dead.

On Nov. 2, detectives responded to a north Glendale residence in reference to a deceased male adult.

Wieduwilt, 44, was found inside his home. Detectives said it appears that he died of an apparent self-induced overdose of pills. The official cause of death is pending a report from the Maricopa County Medical Examiners Office.

While at this location, detectives located a red Dodge pick-up inside the garage of Wieduwilt's home. Evidence inside the home and in the truck led detectives to believe that he may have been involved in Kumirova's disappearance.

Detectives said they are not sure what type of relationship the two had, but records indicate that Wieduwilt checked into the LA Fitness approximately an hour before Kumirova the day she disappeared.

Wilkins said Wieduwilt is currently the only suspect in the disappearance, but detectives are still investigating other possibilities. The body, he said, would go a long way toward solving the case.

"When they find the body, they'll be able to get a lot more answers," Wilkins said.

Police are searching not only for Kumirova's body, but also for anyone who saw Wieduwilt's vehicle in the desert north of Glendale and Phoenix. Investigators believe he dumped or buried her body in the nearby desert.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the Glendale Police Department at 623-930-3000.

The family of the missing mother has set up a memorial account at Arizona Federal Credit Union. To contribute to the account, go to any branch and make a deposit into account number 533767.

Reach the reporter at jasmall@star-times.com or (623) 847-4615.


News Release --- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- December 12, 2003

Andy Conovaloff, GCC Russian Club, 623-972-7828, (cell) 623-202-1186,

Tamara Babekov, Phoenix Bucharian Jewish Community, 602-469-1199, rraz@cox.net

FIND PHOTOS AT WEBSITE: www.RussianAZ.org/news/2003

Family of Missing Teacher Begs Public for Help

At 10 am Saturday December 13, the family of Yuliya Kumirova will place flowers in the parking lot of LA Fitness at 5536 W. Bell Rd. near the location where she was last thought to be seen. 

Large puddles of blood were found about 10 feet from her car along with her gym clothes. Weeks later the Glendale Police confirmed that the blood belonged to her but still can't explain her abduction or find her body. 

Yuliya was the breadwinner for four people, her two teenage boys and her parents. They completely depended upon her aid and salary. Her husband works in a convenience store. The parents have no car. Her mother cries constantly and tries to play the role as mother to her grandchildren.

The family begs the public to please help find her and to report any information to help the police investigate her mysterious disappearance. They also have many unanswered questions:

  • Is anyone else involved in her disappearance?
  • Why aren't the police doing more?
  • Why isn't there a search party looking for her?
  • What else do the police know that they are not reporting?
  • What is know about Thomas Wieduwilt? 
  • Why isn't Wieduwilt's photo in the press to ask people to help find the body?
  • What do his family and friends know about him?
  • Where does he usually go in the desert if he hid the body?
  • Does he have a history of violence, drug abuse, mental illness....?
  • What makes the police think he acted alone?
  • Who else could have helped?
  • Where did he get all his drugs?
  • When an American is missing in a foriegn country the Government makes a big effort to find them, why not here?

Did any security cameras record any useful photos?

Only her children, Dmitriy age 13 and Vlad age 16, speak English well. Volunteer Russian interpreters will help reporters interview her husband Sergey, her parents Boris and Vera Babadzhanov, and her only brother Yuri and sister-in-law Rita. Her GCC Math supervisor and others will be present to talk with reporters.

The ordeal has been very scary for the family until volunteer translators intervened to guide them. On Saturday morning they are prepared to face the media and answer any questions. 

The entire family emigrated from Tashkent Uzbekistan about 7 years ago as refugees. They fled from terrorism and violence. How can this happen in the middle of America they ask? Hundreds of ethnic Russians have immigrated to Arizona from the Central Asian republic of Uzbekistan after the reorganization of the former Soviet Union and the US invasion of Afghanistan.

FIND PHOTOS AT WEBSITE: www.RussianAZ.org/news/2003


On Halloween night October 31, Yuliya Kumirova was apparently abducted from the parking lot of LA Fitness at 5536 W. Bell Rd. Witnesses told police that a man who had been arguing with a woman threw her into his red Dodge pick-up truck about 10 pm.

That same night, Yuliya's husband Sergey fell asleep and was awoken after 1 am by son Vlad who returned from a Halloween party asking why mom did not pick him up. Worried Sergey called police to ask for help but was told that a missing person report would only be accepted if the person was missing for more than 24 hours. 

At 4 am Sergey decided to find his wife himself. He drove to LA Fitness at dawn, found her empty car with blood stains, large pools of blood 10 feet from the car, and her gym clothes -- tennis shoes, towel, sweater and blouse. He contacted the police again. 

On Nov. 2, detectives were called to a north Glendale residence. Thomas Wieduwilt, 44, was found dead inside his home and blood evidence in his maroon/red 1997 Dodge Ram truck was tested and it matched Yulia's. Detectives said it appears that he died of an apparent self-induced overdose of pills. On November 19, police reported that the blood found in Wieduwilt's truck matched that in the parking lot and was hers. The police suspected she was dead and Wieduwilt killed her.

The family does not know nor has never heard of Mr. Wieduwilt. 


Yuliya was born in former U.S.S.R. in the city of Tashkent, Uzbekistan. At a small age she was a very curious person, from which she gained many talents. She was very good at drawing, dancing, gymnastics, and writing poems. She was also very smart and outgoing girl. Since first grade, she was getting all A's; and as she moved up, she received "student of the year" award after every grade. Her favorite subjects were math and chemistry. Yuliya had nine "student of the year" certificates out of nine that were possible to get. She was a valedictorian of her class when she graduated, and for her outstanding knowledge and perfect behavior she received the highest award possible -- a gold medal. 

In 1982 she was accepted to University of Tashkent where she studied mathematics to become a math teacher. Five years later she received a Master's Degree in Mathematics, and for the next nine years she taught math in high school.

In 1996, Yuliya immigrated to the U.S. with her family; and here in Phoenix, in three years, she transferred her diploma to the American Master's Degree in Mathematics. Since 1999 she taught math at Trevor Browne High School and part-time at Glendale Community College. Yuliya was a very hard worker and had two jobs in order to give her two sons everything they ever dreamed about. She believed in power of law in the great land of America.

GCC supervisor Dr Tom Foley reports: "Her students didn't just 'like' her. Most all of her students really really LOVE HER!! 

"Many of us have had classes where our students really like us, but this is in a different league or an order of magnitude higher than anything I have ever heard of before. Her students are taking her disappearance harder than anyone outside of her family. They feel that they lost a family member or a best friend because that is exactly what Yuliya is to most of them -- humorous and she makes math fun. She treats her students with respect and never treats them poorly when they are struggling. She does not act like she is some superior smart person. (These key points are very basic things that all faculty should work on.) She showed her class photos of her children and the students showed their photos to her. She helps her students with personal problems. She laughs with them, she comforts them, and she basically treats them as if they are friends or family. For many of the students, she is the first math teacher that they ever connected with, both with learning the material and with realizing the teacher was a real person."

Dr. Foley has sent out several e-mail updates to all Maricopa Community College faculty and staff. Today he announced: "A generous colleague in the Math department stated the following in an email to our department, where he offered to kick in an extra 10 bucks for each person who contributes $100.'If we all contribute, we could provide over $3000 of relief to Yuliya's family. Is that a lot of money? Not really. Maybe it's enough to cover a month of bills plus a few Christmas gifts.' The point is clear; her family needs some substantial contributions. Please help if you can. For all who have contributed and/or sent me nice email messages, I sincerely thank you."


Without her body the police will not confirm her death. Without a death certificate her cannot children could receive Social Security benefits. Who can help Yuliya's children now? The two of them are 13 and 16 years old and without a mother or any financial help from Social Security. 

Within a week of her disappearance several people suggested collecting donations -- her student Skip Casner; family friend Rita Biner, also a Russian immigrant; and her boss Dr. Foley. The Glendale Community College Russian Club took on the project of interfacing the American system with this Russian-speaking family. At first the family did not want to be pestered by reporters or given donations. They had hope that she would return alive. On November 19 police reported that due to the amount of blood found and other circumstantial evidence, she is probably dead. 

By this time the anguished family was confused with how Yulia paid all the bills for two houses and where to go for information regarding benefits, insurance, payroll, etc. No Russian interpreter or Russian-speaking social worker was provided. The GCC Russian Club stepped in and networked with the Phoenix Bucharian Jewish Community (mostly Russian immigrants from Uzbekistan) to arrange translated meetings with administrators at both school districts, and opening a contribution account.

ARIZONA FEDERAL CREDIT UNION - account number 533767.

Contributions accepted for kids of Yulia Kumirova.

4 ways to donate:

(1) In person at any Arizona Federal Credit Union office.

Find list of offices at:
or call: (602) 683-1000

Donate cash or make checks out to:

"Contribution Account for Yulia Kumirova -- 533767"

(2) You can pay on-line with VISA or MasterCard by linking to the web site at -- http://www.arizonafederal.com/contribution.html 

Go to the bottom of the page and ignore the fact that "Kumirova" is not listed as a contribution account. The Credit Union is phasing out the listing of names.

In the field where they ask for the person, type in (or copy/paste) "Contribution Account for Yuliya Kumirova -- 533767" (without the quotes). For the CSC field on the second web page, click on the CSC link for info, and then enter the 3 or 4 digit code on the back of your credit card. I had no problem making my contribution on-line.

(3) Mail a check to:

Contribution Account for Yulia Kumirova -- 533767
Arizona Federal Credit Union
PO Box 60070
Phoenix AZ 85082-0070

(4) If you are a member of Arizona Federal, you can do a funds transfer from your account -- online or in person.


Skip Casner -- Phone: 623-979-0060 - E-mail: skip.casner@asu.edu

Skip attended Russian class, then Kumirova's math class on the same nights. She tutored him in Russian after her math class. He considers her a close friend and recommended t the GCC Russian Club that donations be collected to help the family.

Emily Hogan -- Phone: 623-386-3223 -- E-mail: effloresco@lycos.com  -- President GCC Russian Club

Mrs. Kumirova was Emily's favorite math teacher whom she exclusively recommended to everyone as the best and most friendly math teacher she has ever had. Emily helped conduct a fund raising auction at the Russian Club meeting on December 6 with all proceeds going to the Kumirova childrens' fund.

Dr. Tom Foley, GCC Math Dept Supervisor - 623-845-3652
E-mail: tom.foley@gcmail.maricopa.edu 
Website: http://glory.gc.maricopa.edu/~tfoley 

Dr. Foley has spent about half his time during the first several weeks working on the impact of Kumirova's disappearance at GCC.

George A. Martinez, GCC Dir Marketing/Public Relations, Advancement Services  -- (623) 845-3605 -- Assistant Debra 845-3483

Craig Pletenik, Community Relations Coordinator, Phoenix Union High School District -- 602-764-1530  --  cpletenik@phxhs.k12.az.us

Joe Montez, Principal, Trevor Browne High School -- 602-764-8516
Ann Tunnell, Head of Math Department, Trevor Browne High School -- 602-764-8516

Rita Biner, Friend of parents -- ritabiner@cox.net

Andy Conovaloff, secretary, GCC Russian Club, 623-972-7828, (cell) 623-202-1186, ajconova@student.gc.maricopa.edu

Tamara Babekov, President, Woman's Club, Phoenix Bucharian Jewish Community, 602-469-1199, rraz@cox.net  -- translator

FIND PHOTOS AT WEBSITE: www.RussianAZ.org/news/2003


Hopes fading for family of missing math teacher

Brent Whiting -- The Arizona Republic -- Dec. 14, 2003

Flowers were brought Saturday to the Glendale parking lot where a Phoenix teacher vanished seven weeks ago. 

Yuliya Kumirova, 38, was probably murdered, but no body has been found and expectations for a happy outcome to the case have long faded, according to Glendale police.

The grief of Kumirova's husband, two sons and parents was evident Saturday as they spoke for the first time about the unsolved mystery.

Dimitriy, 13, the youngest son, still hopes for a miraculous return of his mother, a math teacher at Trevor G. Browne High School.

Kumirova, a northwest Phoenix resident, also worked as a part-time instructor at Glendale Community College.

Investigators believe woman abducted from LA Fitness parking lot

"I don't think she's dead," Dimitriy said during an interview at the LA Fitness sports club.

Vlad, 16, the elder son, said he has given up on ever seeing his mother again.

As the only family member fluent in Russian and English, Vlad said he is kept busy assisting his father, Sergey, and maternal grandparents, Boris and Vera Babadzhanov.

The family emigrated from Uzbekistan, a republic in central Asia that was part of the former Soviet Union.

In heavily accented English, Sergey Kumirov, the husband, said the family is strained, both financially and emotionally.

"Police don't do nothing," he said, explaining he can't understand why a body has not been found and why detectives no longer call about the case.

Investigators believe Yuliya Kumirova was abducted Oct. 31 from the parking lot of the Glendale sports club. They say that on Nov. 2, a suspect, Thomas J. Wieduwilt, 44, was found dead in his north Glendale home after apparently taking an overdose of pills. Police say that blood found on the LA Fitness parking lot near Kumirova's van was matched to blood found in Wieduwilt's pickup truck.

Her husband and sons said Saturday that the family had no previous ties to Wieduwilt, a computer programmer.

Andy Conovaloff, a family friend, said donations for the family can be made at any Arizona Federal Credit Union to the Contribution Account for Yuliya Kumirova - 533767


Missing adjunct faculty remains found 

The Voice -- April 30, 2004 -- Marie Houston, Staff Reporter

The search for a GCC math adjunct teacher came to a heart-wrenching end on April 9 when police found the skeletal remains of Yuliya Kumirova in a desert west of Scottsdale. 

Yuliya, whose name was pronounced like Julia but with a soft J, was abducted the evening of Oct. 31, at LA Fitness on 55th Avenue and Bell Road. The man suspected of kidnapping and murdering Kumirova from the gym parking lot was found dead Nov. 2 from a pill overdose. 

The night Kumirova's remains were discovered, a Phoenix police officer was on duty at Pinnacle Peak Road. He found the skull first and the rest of the remains lying face down. Forensic odontologist John Piakis used dental and skull x-rays to further determine the identification of the skeleton. 

Glendale police have made no connections between Kumirova and her murderer other than both having memberships at L.A. Fitness. 

The teacher, who also taught full time at Trevor Browne High School, was the primary financial support for her husband and two sons, age 13 and 16. 

The math teacher, who came from Uzbekistan with her family, was loved by her students. Past Voice articles quoted staff and students as saying she made math fun and connected with people she instructed. 

Tom Foley, a math teacher at GCC, has sent out numerous e-mails to staff and students with updates on Kumirova since her disappearance last October.. He has also talked and exchanged e-mails with Kumirova's oldest son, who now handles most of the family's finances. 

When her youngest son asked Foley if he thought Kumirova was still alive he notes in his e-mail that this was one of the hardest questions and answers that he ever has experienced. The 13-year-old wrote prior to asking the question that he thought his mother was still alive. 

Closure for Kumirova's family and friends has came after six months. The memory of Yuliya Kumirova will live in on in the hearts and minds of those who knew her. 

A funeral was held April 15 at the Phoenix Memorial Park. Her family and GCC faculty have set up three ways for anyone to donate to the Kumirova family. People may: 1. In person make a payment at any Arizona Federal Credit Union. Most are located near any Maricopa community college. To find the nearest location, call (602) 683-1000. 2. With a Visa or Master Card, make a donation online at http://www.arizonafederal.com/contribution.html . When it asks for the name type in (without the quotes) "Contribution Account for Yuliya Kumirova-533767". The second page which has a CSC link with information will ask donators to type in a three- or four-digit code from the back of the charge card. 3. Mail a check or money order to "Contribution Account for Yuliya Kumirova-533767" at: Arizona Federal PO Box 60070 Phoenix, AZ 85082-0070