Their grandmother was found slain in her home, and they have nothing but disdain for the suspect.
Even if he is their father.
Police said they found and arrested Daniel Edward Smelko, who was hiding Wednesday night in the attic of his mother’s Highview Avenue home in South Akron. On a lower floor, they found Patricia Sees, 71, in bed, fatally stabbed.
Smelko is charged with her murder.
Smelko’s children, Daniel, 22, and Jessica, 19, spoke Thursday afternoon outside their grandmother’s house. They talked lovingly of Sees, a single mother for her son’s entire life, a Bridgestone retiree and an active woman despite her age.
She was a gentle and generous woman, often seen hugging her cats, Teensy and Missy, or outside on her backyard deck feeding the neighborhood squirrels.
But when it came to their father, the children couldn’t hold back the horror stories.
“My father was slowly killing her with all the stress he was putting her through,” said Daniel Smelko. “I even told her to put him out on the streets.”
They said the elder Smelko, 48, had a troubled past — three marriages, mental and anger issues and a painkiller addiction that led him to quarrel and steal from his mother.
He is being held in the Summit County Jail on one count of murder. He is accused of stabbing his mother multiple times during an argument in their home. She might have been dead for more than a day before her brother grew worried and called police.
Family members said Sees recently had pledged to force her son out of her home, which she opened up to him two years ago after he lost his job, his home and his car.
The beginning of the end started in 2005, his children said, when Smelko lost his job at a factory in Macedonia.
“It has been a downward spiral since then,” Daniel Smelko said. “My dad had nowhere else to go, so he moved in with my grandmother.”
In 2009, Sees contacted police after learning her son had stolen her credit cards to fund a trip to Las Vegas. He eventually returned to his mother’s home.
And, his children said, he continued to take prescription pain medication and occasionally steal his mother’s Xanax while awaiting a hearing on his efforts to receive Social Security disability benefits.
From her sister, her brother and her grandchildren, Sees heard the same thing: She must somehow force her son out of her home.
“But she loved my dad. That’s why she didn’t want to put him out,” Jessica Smelko said. “He was her son, and never in a million years did she think this would happen. She’d say, ‘He’s my son. He’d never hurt me.’?”
Family members believe that on Tuesday Sees had enough of her son’s addictions and theft. She told family members she planned to tell Smelko he had to go after his March hearing date.
About 9 p.m. Wednesday, her brother, Gerald Sees, 74, called 911. He told a dispatcher he wanted police to check on Patricia, who hadn’t answered his calls all day. Police forced their way inside and found the body. They say Daniel Smelko was hiding upstairs and now is cooperating with their investigation.
“He said there was an argument and he stabbed her,” police Lt. Rick Edwards said.
Police records show Smelko was the subject of several incidents, ranging from an overdose of painkillers to an attempted suicide to a domestic fight with a wife.
Phil Trexler can be reached at 330-996-3717 or firstname.lastname@example.org.