Police have arrested the ex-boyfriend of a University of Pittsburgh student after she was found dead in her home Sunday morning.
Matt Darby, 21, has been charged in the homicide of 20-year-old Alina Sheykhet, the Pittsburgh Police Department said Tuesday. He is also facing charges of burglary, flight to avoid apprehension, theft and possession of instruments of a crime.
Police were searching for Darby for several days after Sheykhet was found dead. He was taken into custody Wednesday in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, after he was found “tampering with a window at a residence,” there, WTAE-TV reports. He remains jailed without bail in South Carolina awaiting extradition to Pennsylvania.
Sheykhet was 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 He has been free on $10,000 bail since his arrest, but that was revoked Sunday, authorities said.
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
“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.
“She worked with customers at the front desk,” he told the Tribune-Review. “It was a good job for her because she was so friendly.”
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.”
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.
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.”
3. He Is Also Accused of Raping Another Ex-Girlfriend & 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.
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.
Darby’s ex-girlfriend accused him of raping her and she said he tried to contact her after police told him not to, the Post-Gazette reports.
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.
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, according to a bio on the school’s website from when he was a freshman during the 2014-2015 season. The team’s head coach told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Darby was kicked off the team in February, but wouldn’t comment about the reasons for his dimissial.
“I’m always disappointed when things don’t work out for players,” coach Sean Strickland told the newspaper.
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.
Darby had been living in Greensburg, according to court documents, but his last address was not immediately known. He withdrew from Pitt-Greensburg in early October, the Tribune-Review reports.
5. Sheykhet, Who Met Darby at Pitt-Greensburg, Was the ‘Best Person in the World,’ Her Father Says
Alina 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. He told the Tribune-Review that his daughter wanted to be a physical therapist working with children.
“It was her dream. And she worked so hard. I lost my beautiful princess. I don’t know what else to say. She made everyone happy. She had such a bright future,” he told the newspaper.
“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.”
She was supposed to be celebrating her brother’s 25th birthday later Sunday, her family said.
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.”
“My beautiful best friend has sadly passed away on 10-8-17. No one ever expects this to happen to them. The amount of love people have for Alina is unreal. She has always been the nicest person anyone will ever meet,” Paige Mackenzie O’Neil wrote on the GoFundMe page. “I’m starting this account to raise money to help Alina’s family with their unexpected loss & the expenses that come along with it. It’s the least I can do with how her family has treated me as one of their own since the start. Any donation helps, even if it’s a dollar. I love you so much Alina, I’ll always keep you forever in my heart.”