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Murder suspect tells how, why he killed sister, another woman and a deputy

CROSS CITY — John Kalisz, his gun loaded and mind set, walked into his sister's home and didn't waver.

"I shot everybody till the bullets ran out," he told investigators 13 days later.

How many times was each person shot? "Until they shut up," he replied.

Prosecutors say Kalisz killed two people and injured two more at the Brooksville home of his sister, Kathryn "Kitty" Donovan, where the Jan. 14, 2010, rampage began.

In an interview with authorities from his hospital bed, Kalisz detailed how he prepared and what motivated the alleged killing rampage, which ended at a Cross City gas station two hours later.

Kalisz's trial for the alleged murder of Dixie County sheriff's Capt. Chad Reed starts in mid March, and he is scheduled for a pretrial hearing today. He faces numerous counts in Hernando County, including two first-degree murder charges.

Much of what occurred that bloody afternoon is known from official reports. For the first time, however, Kalisz matter-of-factly described the carnage in his own words.

Although the 56-year-old roofer rambled and sometimes contradicted himself during the interview with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and a Hernando County detective at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Kalisz said he knew what he was doing and that he had planned what he called "the operation."

He expressed no remorse for killing his sister and only some for Reed's death, saying he shot at deputies because they were preventing him from killing other people. "Not one shell … came out to defy a cop," he said.

Hatred toward his family and the judicial system, Kalisz told investigators, compelled him to kill.

"One of the things that upsets the hell out of me is for years I've helped people, helped people and helped people," he said, "and every time I help somebody I get screwed over."

Kalisz was accused of fondling Donovan's daughter, Manessa Donovan, and threatening her boyfriend. In October 2009, he pleaded no contest to charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and a count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He received six years of sex offender probation.

He hated his family for forcing him to spend his inheritance on legal costs, he said. He was frustrated because his probation meant he couldn't leave the state to retrieve his "tools" in Colorado.

Calling Donovan that "pig sister of mine," he told investigators he had intended to "waste the hell out of Kitty and her blood line."

Just an hour before the rampage began, officials said, he had practiced his aim in the woods. Investigators asked him to explain his plan, and Kalisz replied simply: "Bullets. As many as it took."

When he arrived at Donovan's home on Wilhelm Road, Kalisz said, he went to the back of her house and saw her. He shot Donovan three times, reports indicate, before he shot the manager of Donovan's home-based business, 59-year-old Deborah Buckley Tilloston, four times. Both women died on the scene.

He then shot Manessa Donovan, who was pregnant. Although she survived four bullet wounds, she lost the early-stage fetus during surgery at Tampa General Hospital. He also shot Amy Wilson, then 33, who also lived.

"It didn't matter, whoever was alive there did not need to be alive there," Kalisz said. "So I kept going until I felt there was nobody else alive there and then I got in my car and left."

From Brooksville, authorities say, Kalisz drove north on U.S. 19 and said he planned to leave the state. Kalisz said he thought he called another sister, Linda Pleva, whom he told "it was over."

Kalisz remembered little of his conversation with close friend Jessica Denny of Connecticut, whom he phoned after leaving his sister's home. He told her about the killings and said he would shoot any cops who tried to stop him.

He said he didn't know deputies had followed him into Cross City before he turned into a BP gas station. Not until deputies with drawn guns approached his van as he parked next to a gas pump, Kalisz said, did he realize they were there.

"It was no longer about how or what I was carrying, who I was going after," he said, "it was about how many I can take out."

Kalisz heard a deputy yelling for him to drop his weapon and get out of the van, but he refused. "I figured it'd be over by then and if it wasn't over by then," he said, "there was a possibility of making it out of that situation."

Though he couldn't remember how many shots he fired, Kalisz said he might have shot "just to keep the odds even. … I didn't do it out of any guilt, shame or remorse or bitterness towards the cops."

Kalisz fired one round, reports said, and it struck Reed in the mouth. He died that evening.

"Too many rounds went off," he said. "I know there's probably one officer that didn't make it through that ordeal."

Kalisz told investigators he didn't know how to "act, think or feel," at one point even asking them to kill him.

"Just put a freakin' bullet in me, go ahead, I don't give a s---," he said. "Nothing's worth anything anymore."

John Woodrow Cox can be reached at (352) 848-1432 or

Murder suspect tells how, why he killed sister, another woman and a deputy 02/09/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 9, 2011 11:22pm]
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