New evidence in Zakin murder case could mean big break

Published: Sep. 4, 2006 at 10:59 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 6, 2006 at 9:51 PM CDT
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Decatur investigators might have a crack in an unsolved homicide case.

Yelena Zakin's nude body was found partially submerged at the Alabama 20 public boat launch in Decatur June 1st after her husband reported her missing from their Madison home.

New evidence has come to light.

On Saturday, not far from where Zakin's body was found, a fisherman found some key evidence on the banks of the Tennessee River, which could point them closer to her killer.

Fisherman Tony Greaves describes typical things fishermen usually finding floating ashore:  "Clothing, you know, shoes..."

The Tennessee River is often a place of serenity and escape.

Especially for Greaves, who moved here nine months ago from fast-paced Orange County, California.

"Your mind starts wondering... Like it would be an easy place to dump a body."

And that horrifying notion became a harsh reality when on June 1st, two fisherman found a 42-year-old woman's body.

Yelena Zakin had been strangled... a bag of rocks tied around her neck.

After weeks of questioning and even naming her husband a person of interest...still no arrest.

Twice divers searched the perimeters surrounding the public boat launch in Decatur.

Then on Saturday, September 2nd, startling new evidence came to light.

Just downstream from where Zakin was discovered, so were her wallet and purse.

Crucial evidence was inside, like credit cards and other documents, actually well-preserved, according to police.

Greaves says, "Sometimes the current, when it blows, it will either blow this way, or it will blow this way, so whatever's there will blow toward the shore."

Investigators believe the killer might have been sloppy in his execution.

But imagine coming upon this, like one fisherman did this past Saturday, when you least expect it.

"It's like those two fishermen that found her, can you imagine what runs through their heads?"

As the temperature drops, so does the water level so it's likely this new evidence would have eventually floated ashore.

Investigators are just happy it's sooner rather than later.

They also say this new information likely proves this was not a random crime like theft or robbery.