Yuriy Bruks called 911 the morning his wife was found dead inside their Cheektowaga home on Aug. 4, prosecutors said.
And it was not until the next day when an autopsy was performed that authorities realized Tetiana Bruks died of blunt force trauma to her head, neck and torso.
In the meantime, Bruks was able to get back into his house to get his passport and laptop and then went to the Walmart on Transit Road to buy a burner cellphone, authorities said.
"Initially, at first, there was not enough evidence to charge him with anything," said Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn at a news conference Tuesday, just hours after Bruks was indicted on a second-degree murder charge. Authorities tracked him down in Cancun, Mexico, where he was headed with a one-way ticket to Istanbul, Turkey.
Flynn would not reveal what Bruks told the 911 operator.
But later in the news conference, Flynn said: "Anyone can have a slip and fall in a home. Anything can happen in a home. Until you investigate it and know exactly what caused the death of the individual and what exactly happened in the home, you may not know that within the first two hours. That may take some time to develop."
After further investigation, police and prosecutors discovered Tetiana Bruks suffered a brutal attack.
"It was a savage beating," Flynn said.
Federal and local authorities explained how Yuriy Bruks was captured.
After Cheektowaga police began to suspect Bruks in his wife's death and that he had fled, they reached out to the U.S. Marshals office to try to track him down.
Investigators learned that he bought a burner phone at the Walmart and used that to track him down to Laredo, which is on Texas' border with Mexico. Bruks then illegally crossed the border into Mexico, Flynn said.
"He didn't use his passport to get into Mexico," Flynn said.
The prosecutors didn't say where exactly Bruks spent the past two months.
But on Saturday morning, the Marshals learned that Bruks had purchased a one-way ticket from Mexico City to Turkey with a layover in Cancun. Working with Mexican authorities, they took Bruks into custody in Cancun.
From there he was flown to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City and was back in Buffalo by Saturday night.
Bruks didn't have to go through extradition proceedings because, Kennedy said, he had crossed the border into Mexico illegally. He bought the plane ticket from Mexico City to Turkey in his own name, officials said.
Tuesday morning, Bruks, wearing an orange jumpsuit, appeared before Erie County Judge Susan Eagan as an indictment charging him with second-degree murder was unsealed. He pleaded not guilty.
“He is the epitome of a flight risk,” Assistant District Attorney Christine Garvey of the DA's Homicide Bureau told Eagan, who ordered Bruks remanded to jail.
The events of Aug. 4
At 3:40 a.m. Aug. 4, Cheektowaga police responded to 81 Raymond Ave., where they found Tetiana Bruks, 34, dead of "several stab wounds," according to federal court documents. But Garvey said Tuesday that she had suffered blunt force trauma.
According to the federal court documents, her husband was named a suspect and "removed" from the house without his passport.
That night, Bruks' father told authorities later, he brought his son back to the house, even though it was considered "an active crime scene," court documents said. "No person was to have access to the residence during the time in which Bruks re-entered the house," according to the documents.
The father told investigators that his son emerged from the house with a backpack and laptop. Cheektowaga police re-examined the house and discovered his passport was no longer there.
In the meantime, police asked for the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Services New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force.
Authorities searched multiple addresses for Bruks and interviewed family members and individuals associated with a trucking company Yuriy Bruks worked for. Investigators spoke with Bruks' father Aug. 7, which is when he told them about having brought his son back to the house.
Flynn declined to comment on a possible motive in the case. There were "no known prior incidents of domestic violence" and Cheektowaga police had not been called to the Brukses' home before Tetiana Bruks' death, the district attorney said.
Flynn also said his office is considering charging Bruks' father with helping his son flee.