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Missing teen found safe but tied up in Virginia townhouse

Authorities say abduction case began -- and was solved -- on the Internet

Saturday, January 05, 2002

By Michael A. Fuoco, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

For three days, authorities suspected that the mysterious disappearance of a 13-year-old Crafton Heights girl on New Year's Day was linked to her Internet use -- that she possibly met someone in cyberspace who lured her away from home and safety.

Alicia Kozakiewicz

Yesterday, the same technology that had endangered Alicia Kozakiewicz allowed authorities to track her to a townhouse in suburban Washington, D.C., where they found her tied up in a bedroom but not seriously hurt.

A half-hour later, at 4 p.m., FBI agents arrested Scott W. Tyree, 38, of Herndon, Va., a computer programmer whose cyber braggadocio on Thursday ultimately led to his arrest in Alicia's disappearance.

Thus ended an intensive search for the teen by the Western Pennsylvania Crimes Against Children Task Force, made up of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

Alicia, granddaughter of former Allegheny County Jail Warden Charles Kozakiewicz, had no life-threatening injuries and was examined at a Fairfax, Va., hospital and then was released to custody of Fairfax County Child Protective Services, said Sgt. Don Amos of the Herndon Police Department.

Arrangements were being made to reunite her with her parents, Charles and Mary, sometime today. They could not be reached for comment last night and were believed to be on their way to Virginia.


Suspect Scott Tyree: 'A classic long-haired computer guy'

Online map: Pittsburgh to Herndon, Va.


Speaking at a news conference, Jack Shea, special agent in charge of the FBI's Pittsburgh office, said the girl's parents were "obviously elated, obviously concerned" by the events of the day.

The nature of the relationship between Alicia and Tyree was unclear because investigators hadn't completed their investigation of the teen's computer.

But authorities last night said it seemed clear there was some type of "cyber relationship" between the two.

Authorities said last night that Tyree had picked up Alicia in Pittsburgh and took her to his home in northern Virginia. But whether she went there willingly or had been abducted wasn't clear last night.

Authorities were elated with the successful conclusion to the case, even as their joy was muted by the elements of it.

"In many cases there's a good chance of finding a dead child or not finding them at all," FBI spokesman Jeff Killeen said. "To me, this is an extremely positive outcome."

Everyone involved in the probe -- FBI agents, Pittsburgh detectives, Allegheny County deputy sheriffs, U.S. postal inspectors -- knew what they were up against since Alicia disappeared from her home without a coat or money about 6 p.m. during New Year's Day dinner. It was a traditional pork and sauerkraut meal for good luck in the new year.

FBI Special Agent Jack Shea, center, speaks to reporters at yesterday's news conference announcing the finding of missing teen-ager Alicia Kozakiewicz in Fairfax County, Va. With Shea were U.S. Postal Inspector Jim Birch and U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan. (John Heller, Post-Gazette)

The next day, Pittsburgh police contacted the task force and the FBI's Hi-Tech Crimes Task Force also became involved.

Investigators interviewed Alicia's friends while others set about searching her computer hard drive for clues.

"We had to backtrack through this girl's life through the computer and we knew every minute counted, that it was a life-or-death situation," said FBI spokesman Bill Crowley.

As in any probe, investigators needed a break.

They got it Thursday at 8:30 p.m. when a man whose name was not released contacted the FBI in Tampa, Fla. He said he had information about the 13-year-old girl missing from Pittsburgh.

As related by Shea, the man told agents that for nine months he had communicated via the Internet with a man he knew as Scott from Virginia. Scott, he said, had been saying he was going to Pittsburgh to pick up a girl and take her back to his home. On Thursday night, the man said, Scott showed him he had made good on his promise by putting on a computer webcast camera the image of a young girl. Shea said that at that time, Alicia was not restrained.

Even though Alicia is an aspiring model who looks more mature than her years, authorities believe the Tampa man knew that she was only 13.

Shea said the Tampa man went to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Web site and saw a story headlined "Crafton Heights Girl, 13, Missing." Accompanying the story was a picture of Alicia. Realizing it was the girl from the webcast, he called the FBI.

FBI agents in Tampa contacted their counterparts in Pittsburgh. The task force now had a lead.

Investigators knew "Scott" was from Virginia and the Tampa man told them who provided Scott's Internet service. Working through the night, they contacted Internet service provider Yahoo Inc., based in Sunnyvale, Calif., which led investigators to a townhouse at 700 Hemlock Court in Herndon.

FBI agents from Washington, who had been on standby, were given the address about 3 p.m. At 3:30, they went to the door and knocked. When there was no answer, they forced their way in. They found Alicia and removed her restraints.

They arrested Tyree later at his workplace, Computer Associates International in Herndon.

He will be arraigned Monday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., on charges of transporting a minor for illegal sexual contact. Other charges are possible as the investigation continues.

The case, Shea said, showed that while the Internet is a "terrific tool ... we as parents have to be extremely vigilant about how it is used."

Staff writer Rachel Smolkin contributed to this report.

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