1. Archive

Cops: Woman who tried to help son died at his hand

Matthew Lohoski
Matthew Lohoski
Published Feb. 26, 2014

For the past four years, Deborah Lohoski , 59, had cared for her young granddaughter and tried to help her troubled son as he struggled with an alcohol addiction.

But her efforts ended violently Monday afternoon, when Matthew Lohoski, 33, killed his mother in the family's backyard at 1709 El Trinidad Drive E off State Road 590, east of U.S. 19 in Clearwater, authorities said.

Clearwater police did not release a motive Tuesday, but gave this account of Deborah Lohoski's slaying:

As his 7-year-old daughter played a video game inside the home, Lohoski put his mother in a choke hold until she lost consciousness. Moments later, when Lohoski returned to the backyard, she was still breathing.

With a pocket-style box cutter knife, Lohoski slashed his mother's throat and an artery near her armpit, but Deborah still clung to life. So, using a zip tie, Lohoski tried to choke his mother again, but the tie broke.

In a final attempt to end his mother's life, Lohoski grabbed a sledgehammer from the backyard shed and struck his mother's head at least three times, killing her.

Then Lohoski dropped his daughter off at a friend's house and turned himself in at the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. He was taken to Clearwater police headquarters, where detectives interviewed him and arrested him on a first-degree murder charge.

Lohoski's daughter is in the care of the Florida Department of Children and Families while officials find "a more permanent solution," said spokeswoman Natalie Harrell.

Court records show Deborah moved in with her son and his daughter in 2010, the year Lohoski and his wife, Tracey Schwinghammer, divorced. The pair had married in February 2006, four months before their daughter was born.

Lohoski was awarded custody of the girl, who moved with her father both times he settled down with new girlfriends in Pinellas County. In December 2012, she stayed with her grandmother at her El Trinidad Drive home. Lohoski would move in later.

Last year, Deborah filed a petition for temporary custody of her granddaughter, but dropped it after Schwinghammer, who moved to her native Maryland in June 2010, contested the petition and said she would want custody of her daughter if the girl was not with her father.

Meanwhile, Lohoski's drinking problems continued. On Sunday, he was issued a DUI citation after being involved in a crash in January. In December, he was arrested on a reckless driving charge when he crashed into a neighbor's mailbox and told responding officers he had been drinking and arguing with his mother.

Lohoski was booked into the Pinellas County jail, where he remained Tuesday without bail.