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Deceased Parents of Missing Santa Maria Boy Were Locked in Bitter Divorce Battle

Court documents show Konstantin Morozov and Natalia Morozova were feuding over money, custody of 9-year-old son Daniel Morozov

Konstantin Morozov and Natalia Morozova, the parents of a 9-year-old Santa Maria boy who was the subject of an Amber Alert search, were engaged in bitter divorce proceedings and were due in court this week. Both were shot to death — she allegedly at the hands of her former spouse and he by police officers in Los Angeles. The boy, Daniel Morovoz, was found unharmed. Click to view larger
Konstantin Morozov and Natalia Morozova, the parents of a 9-year-old Santa Maria boy who was the subject of an Amber Alert search, were engaged in bitter divorce proceedings and were due in court this week. Both were shot to death — she allegedly at the hands of her former spouse and he by police officers in Los Angeles. The boy, Daniel Morovoz, was found unharmed. (Contributed photo)

The parents of a 9-year-old Santa Maria boy who was the focus of an Amber Alert search this week were engaged in bitter divorce proceedings, and had a court hearing scheduled for Thursday.

Konstantin Morozov, 48, and his ex-wife, Natalia Morozova, were both shot to death this week — Morozova was allegedly killed by her former spouse Monday night in Santa Maria and Morozov was shot and killed in an officer-involved shooting in Los Angeles Tuesday night. 

Santa Barbara County Superior Court documents identify the couple as the parents of 9-year-old Daniel Morozov, the subject of the Amber Alert that was issued early Tuesday, hours after police were summoned to the Arbolinda Apartments on North College Drive in Santa Maria, where Natalia Morozova was found dead.

Santa Maria police have not confirmed Morozova was the woman fatally shot Monday night, but her identification has been shared widely on social media, and a memorial service was held for her on Tuesday.

Authorities issued an Amber Alert for Daniel Morozov and his father, and said they were last seen in a blue Volkswagen Golf.

That vehicle was found abandoned at the Santa Maria Public Airport on Tuesday morning, and the Jeep Cherokee identified in the revised Amber Alert also turned up abandoned — this time on a residential street in Santa Barbara.

Hours later, Morozov was fatally wounded during an officer-involved shooting by the Los Angeles Police Department after he and Daniel were spotted leaving an Encino home that was under surveillance.

Daniel Morozov Click to view larger
Daniel Morozov

The boy was unharmed, authorities said, and placed in the custody of the Department of Family and Children Services in Los Angeles County.

"The biggest thing is he's safe," Santa Maria police Lt. Russ Mengel said, adding investigators feared a similiar outcome as the case of Aramazd Andressian, Sr., who killed his young son and dumped the body at Cachuma Lake.

In addition to LAPD, the Santa Barbara Police Department, Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department and FBI aided by making the case a top priority, Mengel said. 

“This was just such great cooperation up and down the state and our federal partners," Mengel said. "This became a priority for everyone."

Santa Maria police were looking into the parents' rocky relationship as a reason for the homicide. 

"We try to look for reason. Why did this happen? We haven't come across anyting that's this huge flag saying, "Hey, the violence is going to occur,'" Mengel said. "We haven't seen that.

"I don't know if I can say that's what's more heartbreaking. This whole case is heartbreaking because the lone survivor of the family is a single child."

The Superior Court documents revealed that Morozov and Morozova were formerly married, but she filed for divorce in December 2015, seeking to end the marriage after 13 years, four months.

However, the process was delayed because she reportedly went to Russia before returning to Santa Maria.

The pair, both of whom were immigrants from Russia, met in 2000 while living in Los Angeles, where Morozova worked as a nanny.

The couple married in 2002, the same year Morozov was granted political asylum, according to court documents. 

He reportedly had worked as a nurse in the Lompoc and Santa Maria valleys, while she most recently was employed as a teacher's aide at a local school.

While the divorce reportedly was finalized June 15, the couple continued to battle over financial matters and the custody arrangements for Daniel, a Pine Grove Elementary School student. 

They were scheduled to appear in court Thursday to resolve a bitter dispute regarding the first installment payment of $100,000 and monthly payments toward the second installment of $100,000 Morozov agreed to make.

The money represented Morozova's share of their former residence in Orcutt.

Morozova objected to releasing her ownership stake in their prior residence before she received the first payment.

“We did not agree to that and would never have agreed to that,” her attorney Jude Egan wrote. “This court has already stated that it finds Mr. Morozov’s credibility questionable. Ms. Morozova has much less trust in Mr. Morozov. This lack of credibility seems to be underscored by his failure to pay the $100,000 on time.”

The woman “has always been afraid that Mr. Morozov will refinance or sell the home and move the money to Russia,” her attorney, according to court documents. 

Meanwhile, his attorney contended Morozova needed to remove claims on the property so he could obtain a private loan for the $100,000.

“The private party lender is absolutely unwilling to loan the money until the (ownership claim) has been lifted,” wrote Tammi Faulks, Morozov's attorney. “To state that this is a simple matter is an overstatement." 

The handwritten agreement also called for Morozova to receive and hold the boy’s passport and birth certificate.

A court document detailing an Aug. 10 hearing, asking Judge Timothy Staffel to partially set aside the judgment, noted the “heated discussions.”

The judge ordered Morozov to pay his ex-wife $2,500 in sanctions. 

Those sanctions would be lifted, according to the order, if the man transferred the $100,000 when the parties met on Wednesday morning, when he was scheduled to hand over the payment and she was going to release the pending legal claim on the property. 

In court paperwork, both Morozov and Morozova claimed the other parent had been saying negative things to the boy about themselves.   

During the divorce proceedings, Morozova alleged abuse by her ex-husband, while he claimed she committed fraud in both Russia and America.

A friend who knew the couple for five years told Noozhawk the woman was like “supermom” to her only child.

“She was wonderful,” said Irina Malkmus.

However, Morozov reportedly often threatened Morozova, making the divorce process a nightmare, said Malkmus, who lives in the Santa Ynez Valley.

“He told her a few times, if she continued the divorce process and asked for custody of her son, he will kill her. I remember it very clear.”

When Malkmus heard about the fatal shooting and missing boy, she said, “I didn't believe (it). It was too crazy.”

A Go Fund Me page has been created in support of the mother and her young son and can be found here.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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