Toronto Sun

May 4, 2002

Suspect was 'tired': Friend

By IAN ROBERTSON -- Toronto Sun

HAMILTON -- Tanya Choma, accused by police of killing a neighbour's daughter, was ill and exhausted from caring for three children, a friend says.

"Tanya was having trouble keeping anything down ... she was having stomach trouble," Brenda Drew said.

A source close to the investigation into the death Wednesday of Taylor White, 3, confirmed yesterday that Choma was on medication for a stomach ailment and an anxiety disorder.

"She's been in and out of hospital," Drew, her friend of nine years, said, adding Choma is down to about 120 pounds from 185.

"She has always been healthy and vibrant," Drew, 32, said. "We used to wear each other's clothes, but because of her illness she lost out on computer courses she was taking.

"I talked to her about three weeks ago and she was handling ... three children and said it was a handful. She said she wasn't getting enough sleep and she was tired."

Expressing shock at Choma being charged with second-degree murder, Drew said: "Tanya is a great mom ... she was always the life of the party and has always loved kids.

"She's raised her voice and would get (her son) out of a situation by grabbing his clothes, but ... I've never seen Tanya raise her hand to Mitchell," she said.

Mitchell, 5, who investigators said was present with another boy Tuesday when Taylor was hurt, is with Choma's ex-boyfriend, the boy's father, police said yesterday.

Drew said Taylor's mom, Tabitha White, 19, "seems very quiet with not a lot to say. She said Taylor was a handful, very accident-prone ... a typical three-year-old, climbing onto everything and into everything."

Choma met her common-law husband, John Reise, in 1999 and moved into the flat two months ago, Drew said. "She's had several relationships, but John ... was 'the guy' as far as Tanya was concerned."

Pale, drawn and nervous-looking, Choma, 27, appeared briefly in court yesterday. She remains in custody.

Homicide Det. Dave Place said Taylor suffered "head trauma," plus undisclosed injuries to her upper torso.

The autopsy continues, police said.

A memorial wreath and toys for Taylor were stolen from outside the Melrose Ave. S. building early yesterday.

Copyright © 2002, Canoe, a division of Netgraphe Inc.