It was the story that gripped Western Pennsylvania for days: a teenager vanishes in thin air from her neighborhood.
The FBI launches a nationwide search, and miraculously she is found alive.
It's been 15 years since that dramatic kidnapping unfolded in Pittsburgh, and a lot has changed for Alicia Kozakiewicz. She graduated from college, and she's married and back here in Pittsburgh.
And recently, she became a victim of identity theft.
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“When I first found out my image was being used all over the world to endorse companies, and give positive reviews, it was shocking,” she told Target 11.
Kozakiewicz is talking about her picture being used on a website under a different name reviewing companies she's never heard of.
“Just feeling very violated that somebody could use me in such a way that I was once again being exploited,” she said.
In 2001, as a 13-year-old growing up in Crafton Heights, Kozakiewicz struck up an online conversation in a chat room with a boy she thought was her own age.
WEB EXTRA: The Alicia Project - Internet Safety Tips
On New Year’s Day 2002, that boy drove to her street and waited.
“I heard this little voice saying, ‘Alicia, this is dangerous, go home,’” she said. “And the next thing I knew I was in the car and I don't know how I got in the car. All of a sudden, I was a prisoner.”
The boy turned out to be a man, and he drove her to Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C., and held her captive in a basement with a chain around her neck and sexually abused her. He even posted images of it online.
A man in Florida recognized her and called police. Four days later, the FBI found her.
“I did, over that week, whatever it took to survive and every decision I made was the right one because I'm here today,” she said.
Kozakiewicz finished high school and graduated from college with a master’s degree in forensic psychology. She recently got married and returned to Pittsburgh. And she's discovered a new passion: acting.
“I have spent, it seems like, my existence in front of cameras, telling my story, and I want to start telling other people’s stories,” she said.
But her story still isn't finished. The man who kidnapped, raped and tortured her, 38-year-old Scott Tyree, was sentenced to 19 years in prison, and she knows he will be released in about four years.
“While that is horrifying and my life will flip upside down, I'm working to be at a place where that's not going to be as impactful as it could be,” she said. “Yes, I'm scared. Yes, I dread that day thinking about him getting up and going outside and feeling the sunshine on his face and being free.”
The fake review that used Kozakiewicz’s picture has been removed. For more information, go to reviewfraud.org.
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