The kitchen was clean. The bedrooms were filled with toys, and the stairs were blocked with a child safety gate.
Downstairs in the Holiday apartment, a 1-year-old boy wobbled and laughed. His 3-year-old brother happily chattered. Their pregnant mother played with them as she spoke to a visitor.
An investigator with the Department of Children and Families reported the home was "beautifully decorated" and that the mother was "very nice and soft-spoken. She was caring for both children while she spoke."
Nothing in that February 2007 visit gave any hint that Alicia Chomic would someday kill her three children before turning the gun on herself.
Nearly three weeks after the bodies of Chomic, 23, and the boys — Tom Goldsmith Jr., almost 5; Damian Lietz, 2 1/2; and Anthony Lietz Jr., 15 months — were discovered in the bedroom of her mother's Citrus County home, many questions go unanswered, not the least of which: Why did she do it?
She left no suicide note. She used a gun that belonged to her mother and stepfather, Vickie and Greg Maslowski, while they were out of the house, said Citrus County Sheriff spokeswoman Heather Yates.
Friends and relatives say Chomic was an excellent mother, a gentle young woman who doted on her boys and described her ideal life as one in which she stayed at home with the children and ate dinner as a family when the father came home every night.
But recently released documents from the Department of Children and Families provide some additional insight into her struggles for her ideal life.
She overdosed once on prescription medication as a teen, and a few years later the abuse hotline received two calls that Chomic was using drugs with the father of her oldest son. But state investigators never substantiated those allegations, finding that the boys were well cared for.
At the same time, records show, Chomic saw flashes of violence from the two men in her life.
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The father of her oldest child, Thomas Goldsmith, is in prison on charges that he obtained prescription drugs by fraud. Court records show he was once accused of stalking and threatening to kill and rape Chomic — and was arrested for assaulting her when she was pregnant.
In September 2004, someone called the child abuse hotline, alleging that Chomic and Goldsmith smoked crack and snorted Oxycontin in front of the oldest boy, according to Department of Children and Family records.
Chomic, who was then living with the child at her mother's home in New Port Richey, denied the allegations and agreed to a urine drug screen, which showed she had no drugs in her body. Goldsmith, who lived elsewhere and shared custody of the baby, also showed no sign of having used drugs or alcohol. The baby was healthy, the house was clean, the case was closed.
A year later, the hotline got another report, this time that Chomic — by then pregnant with her second son, fathered by Anthony Lietz — and Goldsmith were abusing prescription pills while supervising Thomas Jr.
Once again, Chomic and Goldsmith denied the allegations, saying they were not taking any kind of drugs. Chomic did tell the investigator that a few years earlier, when she was 16, she had overdosed on prescription medication — she could not remember what kind — and ended up at the hospital.
Chomic also told the investigator that the father of her unborn child had threatened to kill her and Goldsmith.
Chomic's mother, Vickie, told the investigator that she did not want her grandson living at Goldsmith's home, noting the domestic violence episode between him and her daughter. But, the report says, "Vickie stated that she has no concerns about Thomas' safety because Alicia will protect Thomas."
The next month, Chomic and Goldsmith were married and moved to Jacksonville for a short time. Investigators closed the case, saying they had found no evidence that young Thomas was in any danger. (Citrus authorities say Chomic was unmarried at the time of her death, though it is unclear when the divorce was finalized.)
In February 2007, a child abuse investigator visited Chomic again — this time after an incident between her and Lietz. By then, she and the two older children were living with him in Holiday.
Authorities got a report that Lietz pushed Chomic on Valentine's Day, leaving her with a bruise on her arm and him with fingernail marks on his back. He was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery. Because the children were present, child abuse investigators were called to the scene.
Chomic told the investigator that it was a "big misunderstanding," that Lietz had been "a blessing to her and the children." They had been arguing that day, their anniversary, because he wanted to get a babysitter and she did not.
Lietz told the investigator that he and Chomic have been raising the two children as a family and "he lives for Alicia and his kids and can't believe this is happening."
The pair eventually moved back in together until last month. That was when she abruptly left with the boys and headed to her mother's home in Citrus County. She and the children were dead less than a week later.
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The Citrus County Sheriff's Office considers the case an open investigation until toxicology reports come back in a few months, said Yates, the spokeswoman.
Chomic's friends and relatives have said she did not abuse drugs. Her aunts told the St. Petersburg Times in an interview shortly after her death that Chomic had back pain and may have had a prescribed pain medication at one point.
In May, Chomic told Pasco sheriff's deputies that someone broke into her car and stole 120 tablets of the prescription painkiller Roxicodone from her purse. She was told to fill out a sworn statement to replace the prescription. But the deputy's last report said Chomic never contacted him again.
Jodie Tillman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6247.