Alicia Kozakiewicz was born on March 23, 1988, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The girl recalls that her childhood was wonderful, with her parents always there for her and her siblings. Alicia was passionate about Disney movies, and it was not uncommon to find her singing to the birds or dreaming of the life of a princess.
In the early 2000s, the popularity of the internet was already a craze among young people in the USA. Alicia’s brother used to play online, and it was he who introduced her to the world of online networks, where, in addition to having fun, you could meet new people.
Alicia’s parents believed that the internet was not a problem. Despite often warning the children about the dangers of talking to strangers, they never prohibited the children’s access.
Making New Friends
The year was 2001, and Alicia was 13 years old, accessing chat rooms with people from around the world. In one of these conversations, she became close to a boy her age who seemed to share her interests, and the two talked for hours, exchanging advice and life experiences.
At the time of the incident, Alicia had been chatting with this boy for nine months. For her parents, there was nothing wrong, as the mother occasionally inspected the computer conversations, knew the friends’ photos, and had a transparent relationship with her daughter.
Happy New Year?
On December 31, 2001, the Kozakiewicz family was gathered at home for New Year’s Eve celebrations. It was a family tradition for everyone to celebrate together and eat dishes made with pork.
Shortly after dinner, Alicia told her mother that she had a stomachache and asked if she could lie down. The mother agreed and told her to return for dessert in a few minutes.
Instead of going to her room, the girl walked through the living room towards the front door and went out to the backyard. What no one knew was that Alicia had arranged to meet her friend from the internet.
Alicia was not accustomed to going out alone at night, and on this occasion, it was very cold and snowing in Pittsburgh at 7 pm. She walked about a block, and something felt like an intuition telling her to go back home. The girl turned around, and when she was about to go in the opposite direction, she heard a male voice calling her name.
The Nightmare Begins
In a matter of seconds, Alicia said she was already inside a car with a stranger. Meanwhile, at the family home, the mother had already noticed the absence of her daughter and quickly alerted the police.
The authorities searched the house; there were no signs of a struggle or break-in. As a standard procedure, the police said she was probably at a friend’s house and would return in the morning. According to them, there was no reason for such concern.
Inside the car, the abductor tightly held Alicia’s hand while she could see that she was still in the same neighborhood as her family. For a moment, she thought it might just be a joke, and the man would take her home after a short drive around the block.
When the girl realizes that the scenery on the street is already unfamiliar, fear begins to take over her body. Alicia panics, starts screaming and crying, only to be silenced when the man threatens her with death.
After a few hours of travel, she realizes she is at a toll plaza. Alicia fervently believed that someone would notice something wrong, but that did not happen.
After driving about five hours, from Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania to Herndon in Virginia, the man parked his car in the yard of a house and dragged Alicia inside. She remembers being pulled and then pushed into a room below the first floor, which had between one to two flights of stairs.
The room was locked and at that moment Scott Tyree, a 38-year-old man, sexually abused Alicia for the first time.
“This is going to be very difficult for you, it’s okay, you can cry.”The kidnapper’s words to Alicia before committing the first act of abuse.
Soon after the first abuse, the kidnapper chained Alicia to the floor, beat, molested and tortured her for four days. The girl even tried to escape, but her nose was broken and it was confirmed that her life was in the hands of a criminal.
Scott William Tyree was born in 1963 as the son of Erma Tyree. In 1981, he completed his studies at Westmoor High School. With two marital unions in his history, Tyree was the father of a 12-year-old girl.
During the winter break, the girl remained under his custody but was returned to her mother on the same day Tyree kidnapped Kozakiewicz, just before New Year’s Eve dinner. At the time of the abduction, he was already divorced.
His first wife, Sarah Tyree, described him as a “classic computer enthusiast,” with a fascination for science fiction and computer games. She assured that he had no previous records with the law.
Fear and Desperation
At this point, Alicia’s parents were already suspecting that she might have met someone with malicious intentions on the internet. The daughter’s computer was taken to the police, but unfortunately, it did not provide any leads.
The parents then decided to create posters with the victim’s photo. These were distributed throughout the city, and the case reached major television networks with the help of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
On January 4, 2002, Scott told Alicia that he was starting to like her and that later they would go for a walk after work. This was also the first day Alicia received water and food from the kidnapper.
After Scott left for work, Alicia spent the day crying and praying. She believed that the abuser would take her to a remote location and end her life.
At 4:10 PM on January 4, 2002, Alicia began to hear loud noises in the house, as if several men were on the premises and forcing the doors. Fear quickly took over her body, and she rolled under the bed, thinking that Scott had sent someone to kill her.
Alicia remained in complete silence while hearing a male voice saying, “There’s no one here, it’s all clear!” Seconds later, the same voice said, “Wait, there’s movement here!”
The young girl panicked when she realized that boots were right in front of the bed where she was hiding. The man ordered her to come out, and Alicia rolled off the bed, at the same time raising her arms while trying to cover her completely naked body.
A gun was pointed at her face, and she thought that this would indeed be her end. When the man turned his back, she could read “FBI” initials on his jacket, and seconds later, the room was filled with police officers who released the chains and covered her body.
Saved by Another Criminal
Tyree filmed one of the abuses he committed against Alicia and broadcast it online, live via streaming video so that other people could see. One of the viewers recognized Alicia from the posters on the street.
He went to a public phone, called the police and reported the username Scott was using on the networks. Quickly, the authorities managed to link the IP number to the kidnapper’s address in Herndon.
Scott Tyree was arrested half an hour later at his workplace.
After her rescue, Alicia Kozakiewicz was examined in a hospital and released into the custody of Fairfax County Child Protective Services. Her parents, Mary and Charles Kozakiewicz, could not take a commercial flight to reunite with their daughter due to the increasing media attention.
They were flown in a private plane by the FBI the next day, but Alicia’s distress was such that she spent the night thinking her parents didn’t come because they were angry and no longer loved her.
Subsequently, Kozakiewicz developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and significant memory loss. Much of her life before the kidnapping is difficult or impossible to recall.
Alicia underwent years of therapy. As an adult, she mentioned that in 2002, people found it impossible to understand how this had happened and how she had been manipulated; they mostly blamed the victim, although some people supported her and understood that she was never at fault.
Trial and Imprisonment
In September 2003, Tyree was sentenced to 19 years and 7 months in prison. He was released in February 2019 from the Federal Correctional Complex, Butner and was sent to a recovery home in Pittsburgh.
Protests against his placement involved members of Congress in an unsuccessful effort to pressure the Federal Bureau of Prisons to distance him from Kozakiewicz’s family, as he was in close proximity to Alicia.
In October 2019, Scott Tyree was returned to prison for an additional two years for violating the terms of his parole by visiting pornographic websites. He was released from prison once again on September 22, 2021.
One year after her kidnapping, at the age of 14, Kozakiewicz founded the Alicia Project. The Project is an advocacy group that raises awareness and provides education on topics such as internet safety for children, the prevalence of online child predators, and abductions.
In 2007, she testified before the House Judiciary Committee to pass the Protect Our Children Act advocating for the rights of child abuse victims. In 2018, it was reported that Alicia’s Law had helped in the arrest of over 1,000 online predators in Wisconsin alone.
Alicia’s case, despite being cruel and painful, demonstrates resilience, much like Alison Botha, who survived dozens of stabbings and did not give up fighting for her life.
Currently, Alicia is married and holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Point Park University. In 2016, she completed her master’s degree in forensic psychology and continues to work towards passing her law in more states across the country.