BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) - A Florida man suspected of shooting the mother of a young genius before being shot to death by Montana law enforcement officers had been in the Bozeman area for up to two months, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported Friday.
The newspaper learned that Thomas Kyros, 81, of New Port Richey, Fla., had been living at the Days Inn in Bozeman since mid-November and that he may have tried to contact 19-year-old Promethea Pythaitha more than once.
Kyros is suspected of shooting Georgia Smith at her house south of Livingston on Monday afternoon. Smith is the mother of Pythaitha, who at 14 became the youngest person to graduate from Montana State University. Smith is hospitalized in stable condition, officials said.
The Chronicle has reported that after Kyros learned of Pythaitha's academic abilities he contacted her and "adopted" her as his granddaughter. He claimed to have sent her $17,000. But after a time, his gifts were rejected and his offers to pay her tuition were ignored. He blamed Smith and called the newspaper demanding investigative reporting into Smith's activities.
Kyros left Florida in mid-November. He told his neighbor, Rosalie Maxey, that he was going to Montana, he had some friends there, and he didn't know when he was going to be back.
It was odd for the ailing man to leave his house, said Maxey, who has lived next door to Kyros since 1986.
"Never has he left before," she said. "Never, ever."
About a week ago, Kyros had called the newspaper and left a message saying Pythaitha and Smith would be in court and the newspaper should be there to cover it.
An investigation into the shooting found that a package delivery man helped Kyros after his pickup got stuck on the muddy roads in Pythaitha's neighborhood last week. Also last week, Pythaitha told a dispatcher at the City-County Building in Livingston that Kyros was in the lobby outside the courtroom and was making her uncomfortable.
Park County Attorney Brett Linneweber didn't immediately return a call from The Associated Press Friday seeking to find out if there had been some court case involving Kyros and Pythaitha.
News of the shooting stunned Maxey.
"He was so mild-mannered," she said. "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."
Maxey said Kyros "had his mind on this girl," but stopped short of saying he was obsessed with her.
She said Kyros had once shown her a video of Pythaitha, whom he called his favorite grandchild. "He thought she was the cat's meow," Maxey said.
"He's always talk about how smart she was."
But Maxey said she didn't know that Kyros and Pythaitha were not related.
--- Information from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)