Tanya Nicole Kach was born on October 12, 1981, in the state of Pennsylvania, USA. An only child, her father Jerry worked as a butcher and her mother Sherri was a McDonald’s employee.
Around the year 1989, his mother began to exhibit strange behavior. She began to run up debts on purchases of superfluous products, accuse people of stealing while walking down the street, and repeat nonsense phrases as if she were talking to herself.
The mother’s craziness went beyond all limits when she set the kitchen table on fire one night, causing a large fire in one room of the house.
Sherri, the mother, becomes a prostitute
Tanya’s relationship with her mother was very positive, but that deteriorated due to her mother’s behavior. Sherri was very absent-minded, even more so when she started prostituting herself to pay off debts and her addiction to alcohol.
Her father, Jerry, also didn’t seem to be very involved in his daughter’s education, the result of which was a upbringing where Tanya spent most of the day alone in her room, ate unsupervised meals, and went to bed at whatever time she wanted.
When the mother was drunk, she often took her anger out on Tanya, beating her violently. When she turned 13, Tanya’s parents’ troubled marriage came to an end, resulting in a legal battle for custody of their daughter.
Tanya had to be heard by the judge and testify against her mother recounting the beatings she suffered. She described a scene where her mother hit her head against the wall, choked her, and threatened her with death by holding a kitchen knife next to her face. The mother was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and the father remained the guardian of the daughter.
They moved to McKeesport for a fresh start. There, Jerry soon met a divorced woman who had a 7-year-old son. Jerry and Tanya moved in with her and her son.
The rules in the new house were very strict, the girl was not allowed to use the telephone and her room had no door, which gave her no privacy. And to make things worse, her father fully supported any decision her stepmother made, which angered Tanya.
During the eighth grade, the girl had not made many friends, she was very shy. So became part of a group of students who would skip classes and get into fights.
The running away from home began, Tanya would always run away to her mother’s house in search of love and affection, but always ended up back at her father’s house. Sherri, who had already been discharged from the psychiatric hospital, was going through a period of rehabilitation, but seemed to make little effort to win back her daughter’s love.
Thomas Hose, the school security guard
At age 14, Tanya found solace in her new school friend, 38-year-old security guard Thomas Hose, commonly known as Tom. The man even convinced the school counselor that if he could read Tanya’s confidential school files he could help her improve her academic and social performance at school.
But Thomas’ intentions were far from the best; he was a sexual predator and already had a pre-established plan in his head. He offered her attention and affection and they started writing love letters to each other.
Tanya, hiding from her stepmother, began making phone calls to Tom, and it was from there that the relationship went beyond the school walls. During an afternoon when she was skipping school, Thomas and Tanya met and kissed for the first time. This was repeated over the following weeks.
Some time later, Tom invited Tanya to his house, he still lived with his parents and shared a room with his son Justin, still a child. He told the girl that her parents would not be home and agreed with his son that he should keep it a secret when meeting Tanya.
They watched a soccer game in Tom’s bedroom and soon after had sex, this was the first time Thomas Hose abused Tanya Kach.
Problems at home increase
Her escapes from her father’s house and her frustration at not receiving enough affection from her mother increased. Tanya came to be known in town as a troubled girl, a fact that later contributed to her remaining in captivity for so long.
After an argument with her father, Thomas told Tanya that she could live with him, but that at first she would need to “not draw attention to herself”. She accepted, Thomas was extremely manipulative and knew how to convince the girl that she would be about to live a wonderful life.
Tanya’s father, in turn, when he missed his daughter thought that this would have been another runaway to her mother’s house and that the girl would be back in the next few days, he decided not to report her missing to the police. The local authorities no longer took Tanya’s escapes seriously, as this would be the sixth or seventh time she had run away that year.
Tanya doesn’t return home
Tanya’s mother, Sherri, upon discovering her daughter was missing and realizing that she had not arrived at her home, panicked. She remembered that on several occasions when Tanya slept in her house, she asked to use the phone to call a friend.
Upon finding the phone record, Sherri spoke with Tom, who denied having any relationship with the girl or knowing her whereabouts, he said he was just a school security guard. The mother was not happy about this, it was strange that her daughter made so many calls to this man and he said he didn’t even know her.
In contact with the police, Sherri described what happened. But the authorities did not care about this fact and the investigation decided to search the homes of Jerry, Sherri and also those of the neighbors for whom Tanya had eventually worked as a nanny. Nothing was found.
Living as a prisoner
Early on, Tom suggested to Tanya that she change her hair color. He would also often come home with false news saying that her family was not looking for her.
In the following years, Tanya lived as a ghost dweller in a small house. Supposedly, Tom’s parents never knew that the girl lived there, but Tom’s son did, who was very manipulated and forced to keep it a secret. The three of them shared the same room.
During the first few years there were some “safety rules” that Tanya had to follow. She could only watch television with headphones on, walk on tiptoe so as not to cause noise, and use a bucket to urinate.
Thomas allowed her to shower twice a week in the basement during the early hours of the morning, while everyone else was asleep, and if she heard the noise of someone coming up the stairs she had to hide in the closet. Every time they had sex, Tom wrote down the dates on a calendar, so that they could avoid an unwanted pregnancy.
The poor hygienic conditions and the use of dirty clothes contributed to an extreme case of psoriasis on Tanya’s skin, her whole body was covered with lesions that caused her intense itching. Tom was also very demanding in relation to Tanya’s physique, he wanted her to stay as thin as possible, this led the girl to acquire an eating disorder and weigh only 92 pounds (42kg).
During holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving, Tanya would wait inside the closet until Tom came to bring her dinner. She would sit in the dark waiting while the family was socializing downstairs. And before she could even complain about anything, Tom would often remind her that he was the only one who loved her and that everything he did was for love.
“Anniversary” of Captivity
Twenty-four months after Tanya’s disappearance, local police found the bodies of two young women in the same town. Tanya’s case came to light as police officers linked her disappearance to the bodies found and suspected that there was a serial killer in the area.
It is common in the US, missing persons’ pictures to be stamped on milk cartons, increasing the chance that someone will recognize the victim and report it. Tanya’s picture circulated on thousands of cartons at the time.
The case, which had been reopened, again followed all the leads from two years ago and the policemen decided to go in search of Tom. When Tom opened the door and was confronted by the police, he told the men that his parents were elderly and were sleeping and it would not be possible to receive them at the moment, the policemen then decided not to search the house and never returned.
In June 2000, Tanya was allowed to leave the house with the promise that Tom would be looking for an apartment for them to live in on their own, she seemed excited about it. The girl, then 18, received a sum of money from Thomas that allowed her to go out and buy clothes and shoes.
She was also introduced as Nick, his girlfriend, to Thomas’s parents. Tom allowed Tanya to get a job using her false name. She started working at a thrift store and soon after was hired at a convenience store.
His boss at the time, Joe Sparico, was bothered by Nick’s evasive answers about his address, phone number, and some personal information that was pertinent to her contract. Joe thought Tanya was a victim of an abusive relationship and domestic violence, and he wanted to help.
After much insistence from her boss, Tanya decided to tell him everything and ask Joe to send the police to her house. Stunned by what he had just heard, Joe said he would help, but that she should go home and pretend she hadn’t said anything and wait for the police to arrive.
As soon as Joe reported the story to the police, police records quickly confirmed Tanya Kach’s identity. Within an hour, the police surrounded and stormed the house. Tom was finally under arrest.
She took her belongings and was escorted by the police to the police station. Her statement was recorded, and by that time she had already completed 10 years of captivity. In addition to the emotional after-effects, in the following months Tanya had to undergo lengthy dental treatment as a result of poor oral hygiene, malnutrition, and back problems, in addition to deep scars from untreated psoriasis.
Thomas Hose was formally charged by the courts in 2006, more than two weeks after the complaint. The following year, he pleaded guilty. On June 26, 2007, he was sentenced to a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. Five years after the beginning of his sentence, he was denied parole.
Also arrested was hairdresser Judith Sokol, who prosecutors say changed Tanya’s appearance so that she would not be noticed while lying about her identity. Considered an accessory to the crime, she was given six to 23 months in prison, plus another four years of probation.
Life after Captivity
Tanya Kach was thrillingly reunited with her family after more than 10 years without seeing her relatives.
In 2011, Tanya released a book called “Memoir of a Milk Carton Kid: The Tanya Nicole Kach Story.” The publication of the work ended up creating family conflicts, since in the book the victim said that her turbulent childhood made her an easy prey for a sexual predator.
Kach was then sued by her stepmother and her own father, with whom she did not speak for at least three years until the court action. Tanya further reported that the relationship with her father got very bad.
My father started blaming me for what happened, saying, “You knew what you were doing”. I said, “Dad, I was 14 years old”.Says Tanya, reporting for a US newspaper.