Police are searching for the ex-boyfriend of a University of Pittsburgh student after she was found dead in her home Sunday morning.
Matthew Darby, 21, is wanted for questioning in the homicide of 20-year-old Alina Sheykhet, the Pittsburgh Police Department said Monday. He has not been formally named as a suspect in Sheykhet’s death, but she had been granted a protective order against him in September after he was charged with felony trespassing following an incident at her home, according to police. Shekyket wrote in court filings that Darby was controlling and abusive. He has been free on $10,000 bail since his arrest, but that was revoked Sunday, authorities said.
Darby could be driving a black 2013 Chevrolet Cruze with Pennsylvania license plate HBT1677, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Police said he is possibly armed and dangerous, according to the newspaper. “At this point in the investigation, he has not been charged in the homicide,” police said.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Sheykhet Was Found Dead of Blunt Force Trauma After Her Father Kicked Down the Door to Her Apartment
Alina Sheykhet, 20, was found dead Sunday morning in the home she was renting in the 3500 block of Cable Place in the Oakland neighborhood, Pittsburgh police said in a press release.
“At 8:56 a.m. Sunday, October 8, Paramedics and Zone 4 Officers were dispatched to a residence in the 3500 block of Cable Place in Oakland for a report that a female was found unresponsive. Upon arrival, officers discovered the 20-year-old female on the second floor of the residence. Paramedics pronounced her deceased at the scene from blunt force trauma,” police said.
Sheykhet was found by her father on the second floor of her home after he kicked in her door, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.
“We were supposed to pick her up at 8:30 a.m. to go on a dog walk for breast cancer in Allison Park,” Yan Sheykhet told the newspaper. “She wasn’t answering my call. Nobody was answering the door. I pushed open the door and she was laying on the floor. I was screaming, asking her to breathe. But she didn’t. There was lots of blood.”
Yan Sheykhet told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he had dropped his daughter off at her apartment about 11 p.m. Saturday night after she finished working at the Hilton Garden Inn in Oakland.
Police Chief Scott Schubert said in a statement, “We do not believe at this time that this was a random act of violence. There is no continued threat to Oakland residents and the university communities. However, releasing additional details at this time could be detrimental to the investigation. As with each homicide investigation, our primary interest is collecting sufficient evidence that can be successfully used in a court of law.”
Sheykhet’s ex-boyfriend, Matt Darby, has not been named as a suspect in her death, but police did ask Monday for the public’s help in finding him.
“Right now we are looking at several different possible scenarios as to the circumstances surrounding this,” Pittsburgh Police Sergeant William Vollbergn told KDKA-TV.
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The investigation is ongoing. “I encourage anyone with information that could be helpful to call police headquarters and speak to a Violent Crime Unit Detective,” Schubert said. The Violent Crime Unit can be reached by calling 412-323-7800, police said.
The medical examiner ruled Sheykhet’s cause of death a homicide and said the manner of death was “sharp/blunt trauma of the head.”
2. Darby Climbed the Gutter & Broke Through Sheykhet’s Window After She Stopped Answering His Calls, She Said
Matt Darby was arrested after he “climbed up the gutter on the side of the house and broke through the second floor window” of Sheykhet’s home, according to court documents she filed in September. Sheykhet said Darby broke into her home because she “left him and stopped answering his phone calls.”
The incident occurred September 21 and Darby was later charged with felony criminal trespassing. He was released after posting $10,000 bail.
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Sheykhet listed “grabbing, pushing,” as previous incidents of abuse in the documents, which you can see below. She also accused Darby of “emotional abuse,” and said he showed “jealousy” and was “controlling.” The protection order was granted, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.
Sheykhet’s father told the newspaper that his daughter went to court last week with him and her mother to obtain the protection from abuse (PFA) order. The documents show that an October 4 court date had been set. Yan Sheykhet said he was told authorities served Darby with the PFA order at his job at UPS in Greensburg on Friday. The order barred Darby from going to Sheykhet’s Oakland home.
He told the Tribune-Review that his daughter had been trying to end things with Darby before the break-in.
“For the last couple of weeks she had told me she tried to stop talking to him,” he told the newspaper. “She disconnected his phone number, Facebook and all that stuff. I heard his name but I never met him personally.”
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3. He Was Charged With Rape in March & Is Free on $10,000 Bail While Awaiting Trial in That Case
Matthew Darby was charged with rape and other sexual assault offenses in an unrelated case in Indiana County in March, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Details of the rape case were not immediately available. According to court documents, the incident that led to the charges occurred February 23, 2017. He posted $10,000 bail in that case after his March arrest. Amended charges were filed in June. He was charged with rape forcible compulsion, sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault – forcible compulsion and indecent assault – forcible compulsion. Other charges of hindering apprehension/prosecution or concealing/destroying evidence, obstruction and tampering with evidence were dismissed.
He was scheduled to appear in court October 6.
His attorney, David Schrager, told the Post-Gazette, “We are conducting a thorough investigation of all the facts, but until I’m in possession of all the facts, I could not adequately advise my client. I’m hoping to able to have more information” on Tuesday.
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4. Darby Played College Basketball at the University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg & Went to Seneca Valley High School
Matt Darby played basketball at the University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg, but it was not immediately clear when he was last a member of the team. A bio on the school’s website shows he was a freshman during the 2014-2015 season.
Matt Darby grew up in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania, after he was born in Baltimore, according to the Pitt-Greensburg bio. He went to Seneca Valley High School, where he was a three-year starter as a point guard.
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Darby had been living in Greensburg, according to court documents, but his last address was not immediately known.
5. Sheykhet, Who Met Darby at Pitt-Greensburg, Was the ‘Best Person in the World,’ Her Father Says
Sheykhet met Darby while she was studying at the University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg, her father told KDKA-TV. He said that his daughter broke up with Darby after she moved to the University of Pittsburgh main campus, but Darby “continued to chase her.”
Sheykhet was originally from Ivanovo, Russia, and went to Montour High School in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, graduating in 2015, according to her Facebook page. She was expected to graduate from Pitt in 2019.
Her father, Yan, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that she was “the best person in the world,” and excelled at dancing, singing and gymnastics.
“I could go on and on about how much of a wonderful person she is,” Mark Schlaegle, a friend from high school, told the newspaper. “Alina was the most beautiful, open-minded, talented, careful person.” Schlaegle said they performed in musicals and dance together in high school.
She came to the Pittsburgh area as a child, her friend, Sammy Balyasny, who is also Russian, told WTAE-TV.
“It’s very troubling for them of course when they found out about it. It’s tragic. A tragic situation. She moved from Russia to America you know. It’s sad that it happened here you know. It’s very emotional and troubling,” Balyasny told the news station.
Another childhood friend, Hunter Smith, told the newspaper she was the “probably funniest girl I’ve ever met. … Everyone gravitated toward her because she was so nice and so kind. She was always the one looking to have fun.”
Sheridan McHenry, who also went to school with Sheykhet, told WTAE, “She was like a really lovable person so I was just so surprised to see that she got killed. So it was just shocking. She was always a sweet person. Every time we were in school she always had a bright attitude, never had problems with anyone. The fact that we hear about this sweet girl, this happening to her, is pretty sad to hear.”
Pitt issued a statement Monday about her death.
“The University confirms that a Pitt student has died and her family is aware. Pitt Police are providing assistance to the Pittsburgh Police, which is leading the investigation. Police do not believe the situation, which occurred off campus, provides further threat to the University community. Our campus is saddened and extends its deepest sympathies to the student’s family and those who knew her,” a University of Pittsburgh spokesperson said in a statement. “The University Counseling Center will be open for walk-in appointments beginning Monday and can be reached around the clock at (412) 648-7930.”