Mother of Clearwater girl whose father is accused in slaying continues custody fight

Published Mar. 20, 2014

CLEARWATER — The mother of a 7-year-old girl whose father is accused of killing her grandmother continues to fight for custody of the girl.

On Thursday morning, Tracey Lohoski, 43, and her attorney, Margaret O'Neill, were present at one in a series of several hearings taking place this year to decide the custody of the girl, who is now under the care of a family friend.

In February, 34-year-old Matthew Lohoski, Tracey Lohoski's ex-husband, killed his 59-year-old mother, Deborah, in the back yard of her home at 1709 El Trinidad Drive E in Clearwater while the girl played inside, police said. Matthew Lohoski had full custody of the girl at the time.

Tracey Lohoski, who lives in Smithsburg, Md., has had two supervised visits with her daughter since she returned to Florida after Lohoski's arrest.

O'Neill said she must complete several steps for the court to consider granting her custody, including a criminal background check and an inspection of her home in Maryland, where she hopes to live with her daughter.

However, the girl's paternal grandfather, Edward Lohoski, has filed a petition to terminate Tracey Lohoski's parental rights. That petition will be discussed at a future hearing.

"We're waiting for those processes to be completed and meanwhile we are going through the court system here to get the visitation that we want," O'Neill said, "and ultimately for her to get custody."