COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. – A Salem man who killed his wife and three children also beat a man to death with a baseball bat before heading south on Interstate 5 and killing himself in the parking lot of a Cottage Grove motel, officials from the Marion County District Attorney’s Office said.
On Monday, investigators released their narrative of the gruesome chain of events.
The news included the first evidence made public linking the suspect to the death of a man found along a Salem road.
Investigators also found a witness who said the killer told her he was out looking for cocaine that night - and that he sent a haunting text message to his wife's cellphone after he killed her.
Nikolay Lazukin, 27, killed his wife, Natalya and their three children on May 22 before driving to Cottage Grove, Ore., and shooting himself, investigators said.
After killing his family, Lazukin also set his own house on fire.
Earlier that morning, Lazukin also killed 21-year-old Devin Matlock.
Matlock’s body was found on the side of a Salem road near Lazukin’s home. Detectives said Matlock was killed during his walk home after having dinner and watching a movie at a friend’s house.
A delivery truck driver found Matlock’s body just before 4:30 a.m.
Police said there was no indication that Lazukin and Matlock knew each other, or that Matlock knew Lazukin’s family.
After months of investigating, the following is what prosecutors say happened on the morning of May 22:
Witness was with Lazukin
Detectives interviewed more than 100 people during their investigation. One woman they interviewed, 27-year-old Christina Lowe, was seen on surveillance video leaving a Super 8 motel at 2:30 a.m. on May 22. That was before Lazukin set his house on fire.
As Lowe walked across the parking lot, Lazukin yelled at her from his Jeep to get her attention, investigators said.
Lowe and Lazukin had never met before.
Lowe told police that Lazukin agreed to give her a ride when she asked. Lazukin told her he lived with his ex-wife and three children, and he was out looking for cocaine. Lowe told police Lazukin asked her if she wanted to go Hawaii or Mexico with him.
The two drove back to Lazukin’s house, where Lowe waited in the car while he went inside to get money, police said.
As he got out of the SUV, Lazukin took what Lowe thought were ammunition magazines for a gun out of the glove box.
When Lazukin returned, he asked Lowe if she could hear him fighting with his ex-wife.
She said no, according to investigators.
Lazukin also asked her if she would remember him in case police ever contacted her.
She told him she would.
Lazukin drove Lowe to Wal-Mart and gave her $25 to buy a cell phone. Lowe went in the store alone, and Lazukin was gone when she came back out.
Some of Lowe’s belongings were found along Interstate 5 near Cottage Grove.
House set on fire
After Lazukin drove with Lowe to the Wal-Mart, firefighters were alerted to a fire burning at his house. They got that call around 5:30 a.m.
Inside, firefighters found the dead family.
Two of the children had been shot before the fire was set, investigators said. The third had been asphyxiated.
His wife, Natalya, had also been killed before the fire started.
Investigators found loaves of bread with bullet holes that they believe Lazukin used to silence his gunshots.
Investigators said Lazukin sent a text message to his wife’s phone after her death. Her father discovered the text, which read:
“Please forgive me. They took control of my body and did it. I BEGGED THEM NOT TO BUT THEY DID. I’m so sorry. PLEASE GOD FORGIVE ME. MY LAST FIGHT I HAVE LOST AT EXIT 174.”
Salem Police called police in Cottage Grove, which is along Interstate 5 where exit 174 is located. They found Lazukin dead in his Jeep Cherokee with a gun near his hand. Investigators said he committed suicide.
Police also found a baseball bat that had Matlock’s blood on it. Dr. Larry Newman, with Oregon Medical Examiner’s Office, said Matlock died of blunt force head injuries and suffered a broken nose, jaw and cranium. Newman said it also appeared Lazukin had stomped on Matlock's face with his shoe.