Many questions, few answers in death of Bellevue massage therapist
Nataliya Vabishchevich, 35, was found dead in her Bellevue condo Monday morning, police said. Tuesday, her employer said her death “doesn’t make any sense.”
Seattle Times staff reporter
Chiropractor Jeremy Welch has a policy that he doesn’t hire anyone straight out of massage-therapy school. He’s only broken that policy once: six years ago when he hired Nataliya Vabishchevich.
“She blew my socks off,” said Welch, who owns Pure Chiropractic Center in Bellevue. “She was really good at what she did, and her attitude was great. She didn’t bring drama to the office.”
Vabishchevich, 35, was found dead in her Bellevue condo Monday morning, according to the Bellevue Police Department. A co-worker found her after she didn’t show up for work in the morning, Bellevue police public-information officer Carla Iafrate said.
Investigators suspect foul play but have released little information. The King County Medical Examiner’s Office has not released a cause of death.
On Tuesday, Welch and other staff members were in shock. Three of his employees told him they weren’t able to sleep Monday night. The hardest part was calling Vabishchevich’s many clients.
“I think a lot of people are just trying to find answers, because it doesn’t make any sense,” Welch said.
Vabishchevich worked four days a week as a licensed massage therapist at Pure Chiropractic and also worked at Eastside Life Chiropractic in Redmond.
She spoke fluent English and Russian but worked well with clients who spoke any language, Welch said.
“She communicated with everyone with a smile, just the friendliest person you would ever meet,” Welch said.
She and her husband divorced in 2007, according to court records, and Welch said she had a son who lived with her. When officers came to talk to Welch on Monday afternoon, the first thing he asked was whether her son was safe, he said. Detectives told him the son was safe and with authorities.
The incident appears to be isolated, Iafrate said Tuesday afternoon.
Welch said he and his staff members would miss Vabishchevich, who was “an important piece of the puzzle.”
“She just had that kind of secret spice,” Welch said. “I’ll be able to hire another massage therapist, but I won’t be able to hire another Nataliya.”
Paige Cornwell: 206-464-2517 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.