Ana Melina Kilic felt safe at Harborplace, even though she worked only 100 feet from her former husband, who had just been released from jail after pleading guilty to harassing her with threats to "cut off her arms and legs" and harm "everyone close to her."
"She said, 'Mommy, don't worry,'" said Kilic's mother, Maria Gomez. "'If he comes here, I'll call the [police]. And they will put him back to jail.' She didn't have time to call, I guess."
Kilic, 28, was fatally stabbed with a butcher knife about 7 p.m. Thursday in her store in the Light Street Pavilion, police said. Her former husband, Imamali Kilic, 36, who had been released from jail a day earlier, is being held without bail on murder charges, police said.
The stabbing ended the life of a woman who was trying to break away from her past.
Kilic had moved away from Baltimore three years ago and filed for divorce in Florida. Yet, for reasons that even close relatives cannot understand, she returned this year to open a business in the pavilion, where her soon-to-be former husband also worked.
"She was very business-oriented girl," Gomez said in a telephone interview from Gainesville, Fla. "She always wanted to have her own business. I asked her not to go to Baltimore. ... I ask myself so many times, 'Why did she go back?' but I don't know. She said Baltimore was a place to make money."
Kilic was born and raised in a Florida household of Hispanic immigrants, the eldest of six children. She was working at a hotel in the mid-1990s when she met Imamali Kilic, a cruise ship worker from Turkey. They soon married - without her parents' knowledge - and moved to Baltimore about six years ago, where the couple opened a pushcart stand, Magic Rice, in Harborplace, friends said.
Friends recall her working for hours at the stand, painting people's names on pieces of rice. "I thought she was going to go blind," said Steven Weiner, a close friend who works in the pavilion.
The marriage was not going well. She moved to California, learned she was pregnant and settled with her family in Florida to have her daughter, Elif, who was born in October 1999. Several months later, she filed for divorce.
Her husband called her in Florida, asking to get back together. He wanted to be close to Elif and offered to help his wife start a business, her mother said. So, Kilic left her daughter in Florida and opened Hair Phrenzy, a hair accessory shop, in Light Street Pavilion.
Life appeared to be improving for Kilic, whom friends recalled as an outgoing and giving person. She began dating Andrew Stevens, 28, whom she met in a Federal Hill bar.
"She was the most thoughtful and caring person you could imagine," Stevens said. Kilic gave him a present on Monday, a book, The Giving Tree.
He said Kilic also felt burdened by her husband. "
But she could not turn him completely away. "You almost wanted to shake her sometimes and tell her to think about herself sometimes," Stevens said.
Then came a confrontation Aug. 13 at Hair Phrenzy, an incident that led Kilic to take legal action against her husband.
He "came into my place of business and gave me a terrible time begging me to go back to him with our child and start a family again," she wrote Aug. 14 in a petition for a restraining order. "After several hours of trying my patience he became very upset with me and started threatening me violently, saying several malicious things. One line I recall that startled me was he was fixing to buy a gun to use it if he has to."
In the petition, she also wrote about deeper problems. She said that her husband raped her in January 1999, and on Aug. 12 she "was forced to have sex with him again."
She had gotten a weeklong order, but failed to appear in court Aug. 21 to get a longer order prohibiting Imamali Kilic from approaching her. The judge dismissed the case.
Later that month, her divorce became final, relatives said.
On Sept. 30, she told Baltimore police that in the past week her former husband had abducted her to New Jersey and raped her. After that, he called "her home and the house of a friend repeatedly saying he would kill her and 'cut off her arms and legs,'" charging documents and police reports show. "He also stated he would harm 'everyone close to her.'"
Kilic told police that her former husband had made the "same threats in person at her place of business," the records show. The FBI was investigating the abduction and rape accusations, the records state, and "federal charges are pending." An FBI spokesman said yesterday he had no record of an investigation.
Imamali Kilic was arrested by city police on telephone misuse and harassment charges and was held for a month at the Baltimore jail. He asked for a jury trial and appeared Wednesday in Baltimore Circuit Court, where he pleaded guilty to both charges.
Judge Paul A. Smith sentenced him to three years of probation, and ordered him to attend a program at a shelter for battered women and to have no contact with his former wife.
Imamali Kilic was released Wednesday. Thursday night, he went to Hair Phrenzy with his brother, Mehmet Kilic, 28, and found Kilic in her shop, police said.
Police said she was stabbed several times - and that Mehmet Kilic was stabbed while trying to stop the attack.
About a dozen people subdued Imamali Kilic, hitting him with several objects, including a stool and baseball bat. He and his brother were treated at Maryland Shock Trauma Center and released into custody, police said.
Earlier that day, Ana Melina Kilic spoke to a Harborplace official about trying to get out of her lease, to move, her mother said, because "she didn't want to live the same life" anymore.