Yelena Zakin, Andrew Pakhomov: ID's 'Betrayed' -- Missing Wife Found Dead in Tennessee River Killed By Physics Professor

Yelena Zakin, an Alabama woman, was murdered and found floating in the Tennessee River 10 years ago. She was killed by her husband, UAH professor Dr. Andrew Pakhomov. Her life and death will be covered on Investigation Discovery's true crime documentary Betrayed under the episode, titled "Blinded By Betrayal." In the Betrayed episode, police are on the hunt for a woman who disappeared from her home. But when a search leads to the woman's dead body underneath a boat dock ramp in the local river, the spotlight shines on her husband.

May 2006 UAH Contract Employee Missing

42-year-old Yelena Zakin disappeared from her Millsford Drive home in May, 2006. Her husband, Dr. Andrew Pakhomov, filed the missing person report.

According to Wired, two Decatur fishermen found the missing woman's body along Alabama Highway 20 under a boat dock ramp in the Tennessee River. Yelena Zakin's purse was found a short distance away from where the body was dumped.

An autopsy report conducted on the body noted the following.

  1. Yelena Zakin had been strangled.
  2. Her body, which was nude, had been weighted down with a bag filled with rocks.
  3. A belt also wrapped around her neck.
Detectives learned that Yelena Zakin and Dr. Andrew Pakhomov, a married couple who worked together at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, had a difficult marriage that included a history of domestic violence.

Just days earlier, Yelena Zakin had been arrested for fighting and destroying her husband's office at UAH, where he worked as a physics professor.

Distraught Wife Upset Over Alleged Office Affair

Investigators say that Yelena Zakin learned that her husband was having an office affair with Melissa Bates Dehollander, a 33-year-old staff assistant who worked also worked at the school.

To confront her husband, an enraged Yelena Zakin marched into the office, where she found Andrew Pakhomov and the woman together. In a fit or anger, she began yelling and screaming and tossing things about the office. She was taken to jail for the offense. Authorities believe that after her husband bailed her out of jail, he strangled and killed her before dumping her body in the river.

Andrew Pakhomov was placed under arrest and charged with the murder of his wife. He refused to cooperate with police or give Zakin's daughter, Aleksandra Zakin, any information, as she stated in an interview with the Decatur Daily News.

"He isn't even talking to me about stuff. I mean, he's told me that he loved my mother, that my mother was the love of his life, but beyond that, he hasn't said much, nor has he shown very much emotion, which has been very frustrating, especially given the circumstances. I'm certainly concerned with what could have happened, given the history of domestic violence and also since Andrew has not been cooperating with the police... I've been trying to give out whatever information I can about my mom's life, such as where she's lived or who her friends are. Unfortunately, that's the sort of information I don't really have, and he does."
At trial, Andrew Pakhomov, who by that time had already married his third wife, was found guilty and sentenced to 45 years in prison. The former Alabama professor has always denied killing his wife. His efforts to have his case overturned have all failed.
The following is the Yelena Zakin death timeline, according to AL.
"May 24--Yelena Zakin confronted the female assistant at her husband's office in the UAH Optics Building.

"May 25--Madison police were called to the couple's home where another fight was under way - or, more accurately, the continuation of the one from the day before. Zakin told police her husband had cheated on and later attacked her, beating her in the head with what police called a "sentimental" rock they had collected on vacation during happier days.

  • May 28--Police believe Andrew Pakhomov killed his wife.
  • May 30--The professor reported his wife missing
  • June 1--Her body was found floating in the Tennessee River.
In Wednesday night's Betrayed recreation of the case, a clear motive for murder will be explained. Alabama law enforcement detectives are expected to participate in the program. Tune in at 9/8 p.m. Central on Investigation Discovery (ID). Last week's Betrayed was based on the case of Ray Kotomski.

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