HOLIDAY — The spiral of Tabitha Brooks' life continues downward.
The 23-year-old woman, who was traumatized by a childhood car accident that killed three of her friends, has lived in a hopeless cycle of crime and drug use, one fueling the other.
Late last year, she was arrested again — there have been many arrests — accused of burglarizing a house. Her mother said authorities accused her of breaking in and stealing electronics to pawn for drugs. Her girlfriend was arrested too.
Now they are both in prison.
And on Wednesday, authorities charged Brooks with another burglary.
This time, her arrest report said, she used a cigarette to burn through a window screen at a house on Jackson Drive in the middle of the day on Oct. 27. Inside, she stole a television and laptop worth $1,400, the report said.
A cigarette butt was left behind, which authorities sent to a crime lab to be tested for DNA. It came back with a match to Brooks.
So this week, she was brought back from Lowell Correctional Institution in Marion County to the Pasco County jail to face the new charge, another felony.
Anna Brooks, Tabitha's mother, didn't know about the latest arrest until a reporter called.
She said Tabitha was on a path to certain death when she went to prison.
"It was not her, she was so into the drugs," Anna Brooks said.
She and Tabitha talked to the Times last year about the ripple effect of the tragedy that exploded on March 2, 2001.
That Friday night, 14-year-old Tabitha was riding home from her mother's diner with family friends. They stopped to explore the brand new Walmart Supercenter that had just opened at State Road 54 and Little Road.
When they left, Tabitha was sitting in the front seat. Miqucalena Zorbas, Anna's close friend, was driving. Zorbas' son Anthony, 10, sat between them.
Her other son, Robert, 14, rode in the back seat, along with 4-year-old Deziree Pozzi, Tabitha's niece.
The kids were like cousins to one another.
Their Chrysler LeBaron was headed west on State Road 54 when an eastbound Camaro lost control, spun across the median and slammed head-on into them.
Tabitha had a broken femur and a concussion.
The three other children died.
Tabitha never really got help. She has spent time in hospitals and rehab centers but nothing has worked. She has attempted suicide and nearly overdosed more times than her mother can count.
Last year, she was open about not being ready to fight her demons. Even then, she could see herself locked up.
"Sometimes I think I'll be in prison for the rest of my life. I don't want to, but that's just the way I think," Tabitha told the Times last January.
Now, Anna says she feels some temporary relief knowing her daughter is at least safe. Tabitha's sentence will keep her locked up until October 2011.
But without help, her troubles will grab her again when she is released, her mother says.
"If she was let out tomorrow, I believe she'd go right back to it. She's still got a lot of mental problems," Anna said. "I feel a little better knowing she can't get into any more trouble or end up dead. But I still don't feel satisfied. She's not getting the help she needs.
"It's not what I want for her."
Molly Moorhead can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 869-6245.