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Obsession with Montana prodigy leads New Port Richey man to deadly standoff

Thomas Kyros, 81, slow, shuffling, obsessed, had just shot a woman six times. It was 1:18 p.m. Monday on Outlaw Hill Road just outside Livingston, Mont.

Kyros, who is from New Port Richey, sat in his car as deputies surrounded him. They told him to get out of the vehicle. He refused, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

Kyros pointed his gun at the deputies, who fired on the elderly man and killed him, according to the Park County (Mont.) Sheriff's Office.

"He was just a nice, little, old man," said an employee at the Days Inn in Bozeman, Mont., where he had been living since November, the Chronicle reported. "We all just loved Thomas. He treated us like family."

• • •

Kyros hadn't left his home on Putnam Circle in New Port Richey since 1986, a neighbor said. But, in November, he gave his neighbor a key to his house, money to pay the newspaper and lawn care and said he was going to Montana.

He wouldn't tell her why.

"Never has he left before," Rosalie Maxey, 73, told the Chronicle. "Never ever."

Kyros, who had no criminal record in Florida, traveled 2,430 miles to Bozeman to be near a 19-year-old prodigy who spurned his affection.

Promethea Pythaitha graduated from Montana State University at 14 with a degree in mathematics. Her mother, Georgia Smith, is Greek — like Kyros — and told the Chronicle in a 2009 profile of Pythaitha that she worked cleaning houses and they struggled to come up with tuition money.

"Generous benefactors have stepped in to help," the story said.

Kyros, who read of Pythaitha's genius years ago, was one of those benefactors. At least, that's what Kyros told people. He called Pythaitha his "favorite grandchild" and claimed to have sent her $17,000 for her studies. He told her to call him "pappoulis," which means little grandfather.

"I promised as long as pappoulis is alive, you're not alone," Kyros told Pythaitha.

But, after some time, Pythaitha began spurning his money and gifts.

Kyros had been calling the Chronicle for more than a year, demanding an investigation. He blamed Smith for being shut out of the teenager's life. He told the newspaper he felt Smith was keeping Pythaitha prisoner.

"Promethea is a slave, she's in bondage," Kyros told the Chronicle. "I want to liberate Promethea."

He admitted he hired a private investigator to check into the family and told the Chronicle that Smith ruined Pythaitha's future by sending her to Montana State University. She should have been at Harvard or another Ivy League university, he said.

"He kept writing, writing, harassing," Pythaitha told the Chronicle in a 2009 interview. "He did not know me from Adam.

"He says I should leave home, move out. He'd come and oversee my life. … He said, 'You're brainwashed, your mother's this, your mother's that.' He called Mr. Nelson, the (Montana State University) registrar, he started making crazy suppositions. Either the man is disturbed, (or he's) making horrendous slanders and lies."

By 2009, Kyros had not heard from Pythaitha for two years — but he couldn't forget her, he told the Chronicle.

A recent package sent to Pythaitha was returned to Kyros in New Port Richey. It weighed 50 pounds and is still in Maxey's home. She told the Chronicle that Kyros was very upset about the return of this package.

• • •

Authorities believe Kyros bought the gun in Montana.

He shot Smith six times at home.

She survived and is in stable condition.

Pythaitha was not injured.

"He was so mild-mannered," Maxey told the Chronicle. "It just boggles my mind. I can't even see him having a gun. I can't imagine him even threatening anyone.

"I just cannot see him in that role."

A fund has been set up to help the family pay for medical expenses. They're looking for donations.

The Associated Press and Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this story. Erin Sullivan can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6229.

.fast facts

How to help

A fund to help Promethea Pythaitha and her mother, Georgia Smith, who was shot six times Monday, has been set up at Wells Fargo Bank. For information about the Promethea Pythaitha Benefit Fund, call Courtney Marchesani at (406)


Obsession with Montana prodigy leads New Port Richey man to deadly standoff 01/21/11 [Last modified: Friday, January 21, 2011 9:57pm]
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