New details given in death

Mount Holly police have released new details in the death of UNC Charlotte student Irina “Ira” Yarmolenko, whose body was found outside her car beside the Catawba River in May.

Police Chief David Belk said Wednesday the information came from an analysis by N.C. Highway Patrol experts of the vehicle's computer system, or “black box.”

The data indicated someone was sitting in the driver's seat when the blue Saturn plunged about 75 yards down an embankment. The car was traveling about 15 mph when it struck a tree stump at the water's edge, Belk said.

He said the data also revealed that someone started the car again, put it in reverse and tried to accelerate backward. The driver's-side seat belt was engaged, he said.

The body of Yarmolenko, 20, was found May 5 in Mount Holly, about 30 miles from her school. Police said she died of asphyxiation and treated the case as a homicide. They have no suspects.

Belk said lab analysis of evidence collected at the spot where Yarmolenko's body was found may be available in a few weeks.

Anyone with information about Yarmolenko's murder should call Mount Holly police at 704-827-4343. Joe DePriest