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Daughter of Hernando rampage victim just missed being part of bloodbath

Suzanna Greif, 31, of Spring Hill, in an interview with Bay News 9, talks about her mom Kathryn Donovan and family.


Suzanna Greif, 31, of Spring Hill, in an interview with Bay News 9, talks about her mom Kathryn Donovan and family.

BROOKSVILLE — The idling van outside of Kathryn Donovan's home seemed a bit odd, so Suzanna Greif's boyfriend took a look. He didn't recognize anyone inside.

"I didn't think anything of it," Greif said Tuesday.

She returned to her Spring Hill apartment, unaware that she had just escaped a bloodbath. Her mother and sister weren't so lucky.

Authorities said Donovan and her pregnant daughter, Manessa Donovan, were among four victims struck by gunfire Thursday when Donovan's brother, John Kalisz, a 55-year-old roofer with a lengthy arrest record, burst into the home with a 9mm Beretta.

In the carnage that followed, Kathryn Donovan, 61, and her office manager, Deborah Buckley Tillotson, 59, were shot and killed. Manessa Donovan, 18, and another employee in the home-based color therapy business, Amy Wilson, 33, each suffered multiple gunshot wounds but survived.

The shootings happened just before 3 p.m.; Greif said she left the house about an hour earlier.

"Nobody knew my uncle was so close," to the home, Greif said of Kalisz. "We had no idea where he was. I wish someone would have notified us."

Later Thursday, Kalisz shot and killed Dixie County sheriff's Capt. Chad Reed, authorities said, before he was shot six times. Sgt. Donna Black of the Hernando County Sheriff's Office said Kalisz is being treated at Shands, the hospital at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He is awake but is not talking with authorities, she said.

Manessa Donovan, who was two months pregnant and lost the fetus during surgery, was in the intensive-care unit of Tampa General Hospital on Tuesday. "She's got a long way to go, but is able to speak and breathe on her own," read a statement on the Web site for Donovan's business.

Wilson was discharged from the hospital Saturday but didn't return a message left on her cell phone Tuesday. Black said that Wilson and Manessa Donovan had already spoken with detectives and confirmed that Kalisz was the shooter.

"She's hanging in there," Greif said of her sister Manessa. "She's a really strong girl. But she's not quite out of the woods."

From her hospital bed in Tampa, Manessa Donovan has told her sister about the grisly scene that unfolded before her eyes Thursday. "I saw mom fall into the sliding glass door," Donovan said to Greif.

Some days Manessa is deep in mourning. On others she feels comfortable enough to show her scars.

Greif said the family had grown closer in recent months, particularly after Kalisz left the house in 2008.

"Everyone was happy and floating around in love," Greif said. "When he finally left, we started healing. He had started getting weird and taking over the house."

According to police reports, Kalisz had on several occasions exposed himself and masturbated in front of Manessa Donovan, who was 17 at the time.

When Manessa Donovan's boyfriend confronted Kalisz, a report states, Kalisz unfolded a buck knife and held the blade several inches from the boyfriend's abdomen. Kalisz later went to Colorado and sent a text message to Manessa saying that he had left a present for her under her mattress.

She found nude photos of Kalisz, which the report said the daughter destroyed.

In October, Kalisz pleaded no contest to charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and a reduced charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Even before then, Greif said, Kalisz would break dishes and drag mud through the house. He also brought guns into the home. On a number of occasions, she said, Kalisz pointed his fingers at their heads and act like he was going to shoot them.

"We had family members who are just terrified of him," Greif said. "Mom had told other people that she was worried that he was going to come back and kill us all."

Joel Anderson can be reached at or (352) 754-6120.

Daughter of Hernando rampage victim just missed being part of bloodbath 01/19/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 11:10pm]
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