FLORAL CITY, Fla. – A mother and her three young sons, including a toddler in a playpen, on Friday were found shot dead in an apparent murder-suicide in a bucolic Florida community set amid farm fields, officials said. All of the children found in the home were under age 4.
The woman's distraught mother found the lifeless bodies in the bedroom of her beige ranch home hours after the shootings apparently took place, the Citrus County Sheriff's office said. The dead woman was identified as 23-year-old Alicia Chomic and officials said a firearm was recovered nearby.
Chomic's stepfather, Greg Maslowski, can be heard pleading for help on a 911 recording as his wife wails in the background.
"I got three people that look like they're passed away," he says during the call. "Please. My wife's children."
"Do you have any idea what happened?" the dispatcher asks.
"No ma'am," Greg Maslowski says. "I don't even want to go in the room."
The dead woman and the bodies of her two oldest sons, Thomas Goldsmith, Jr., 3, and Damian Lietz, 2, were found together on a bed. Her youngest child, Anthony Lietz, Jr. 15 months, was dead in the playpen, Sheriff Jeff Dawsy added.
Dawsy said no suicide note was found, and it was unclear why Chomic might have killed her sons.
Chomic's mother, Vickie Maslowski, 45, had moved the young family into her home days earlier, the sheriff said, adding that he didn't know the reason for the move.
Authorities said Maslowski was so distraught she had to be taken to a hospital.
"It's very tough for us to pull a lot of information out," Dawsy said. "We will be interviewing her again tomorrow, but we felt right now that we have enough information."
Officials said the shootings occurred sometime before Maslowski and her husband returned home around 8 p.m. Thursday. The couple found the door closed to the bedroom where Chomic and her children were staying. But the stepfather said on the 991 recording that they thought the family was sleeping.
"There was no sort of movement or anything," Dawsy said. "So they never went in and checked. So we're taking it from there and moving back on a timeline."
The deaths occurred in a rural community north of Tampa on a quiet street near farms and open fields. Neighbors said they didn't hear anything unusual Thursday night or Friday morning and couldn't recall having seen the mother and her children before.
"They pretty much kept to themselves," neighbor Tony Diamond said.