Murder Charge for Adoptive U.S. Mom

An adoptive U.S. mother of three Russian children has been charged with murdering an infant and abusing a 4-year-old boy who was found suffering from malnourishment.

The case, which follows several high-profile deaths of adopted Russian children in the United States, is likely to raise new worries in Russia over children adopted by foreign parents.

U.S. court documents show the infant -- 14-month-old Nikolai, who was adopted in February -- died March 7 at a Utah hospital. An autopsy determined that the child had died from a skull fracture that doctors said was the result of blunt-force trauma, police and court records show. The infant also had a bruised face, head, knee and anus.

Fyodor Emelyantsev, the adoptive father and a Russian citizen, told police that the child had fallen on March 6. The child's adoptive mother, Kimberly Emelyantsev, declined to speak with police, court documents said.

Doctors also found the couple's 4-year-old son was suffering from extreme dehydration and malnourishment. The child had been admitted to the hospital three times since his adoption in December. A feeding tube was inserted into the boy's stomach during the first visit to help him gain weight.

On Wednesday, prosecutors charged Kimberly Emelyantsev, 33, with one count of first-degree murder. A felony charge of child abuse was filed Thursday.

Fyodor Emelyantsev, 31, who is a Russian citizen, was also charged Thursday with one count of felony child abuse in the case of the 4-year-old child.

The Emelyantsevs were being held in jail, Fyodor Emelyantsev without bail.

A judge granted Fyodor Emelyantsev permission to be transported by jail officers to a graveside burial service for his infant son on Friday.

A telephone message left for Fyodor Emelyantsev's lawyer was not immediately returned.

The Emelyantsevs have two biological children, aged 10 and 5. Those children and another adopted Russian child, who is two years old, are now living with relatives, said Edwin Wall, who represents Kimberly Emelyantsev.

Neighbors said the Emelyantsevs had wanted to adopt so badly that they took out a second mortgage on their home to finance their travel to Russia to get the children. "We don't believe this is true because we all know how much they loved those kids," neighbor Celeste Hansen said of the allegations in an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune.

Hansen said both the infant and the 4-year-old arrived in the U.S. with medical problems. The 4-year-old weighed just 8 kilograms, and Nicolai had suffered seizures, she said.

The Emelyantsevs are scheduled to appear in court again Tuesday.

Adoptions from Russia have all but ground to a halt due to bureaucratic barriers that were raised after influential State Duma deputies called for a moratorium on foreign adoptions in 2005. The call followed the well-publicized deaths of several Russian children at the hands of their adoptive parents in the United States.

Child advocates criticized the idea, arguing that the number of deadly abuse cases was minuscule compared with the number of children adopted from Russian orphanages by foreign parents.

Russia started reopening its doors to foreign adoptions last summer, reaccrediting several U.S. adoption agencies.