Inside The Kidnapping Of Tanya Nicole Kach

Tanya Nicole Kach was just 14 years old when she disappeared from her hometown without a trace, as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. On February 10, 1996, Kach walked out of her family's house alone (via The New York Times). The 8th-grader was reported missing that day, and her family didn't see her again for 10 years. Where was Tanya Nicole Kach, and what happened to her during that decade?

According to The New York Times, Kach was unhappy living with her parents, who were in the middle of a difficult divorce. She was convinced that neither of her parents wanted her around and decided to run away. She had a crush on an older man — Thomas Hose, who was then 38 years old. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Kach and Hose met at Kach's school, Cornell Intermediate School, where Hose worked as a security guard. 

According to People, Kach was just 13 years old when she first met Hose, recalling that he was kind to her, made her laugh, and bought her candy and cigarettes. She confided in him about her family's issues and believed she was in love with him.

'Memorize the floorboards'

At first, 14-year-old Tanya Nicole Kach thought Thomas Hose truly cared about her, telling her that he wanted to kiss her and be alone with her (per Inside Edition). As a repeat runaway, Kach decided to run away to stay with Hose. But she quickly realized she was kidnapped and that he was not going to let her out of his attic space. Kach begged Hose to let her leave, explaining that she missed her family, but he threatened her and her family constantly, bullying her into compliance.

While Kach was imprisoned at Thomas Hose's house, the conditions were grim. She said that although she lived with Hose, his elderly parents, and his son, they were unaware that she was living in the house, too. Per Inside Edition, Hose told her to "memorize the floorboards" to avoid making noise. Since she was locked in the attic, Kach said that she had to use a bucket in her room as a toilet. She was allowed to shower once or twice per week, but only when everyone else in the house was asleep.

Passing the time while locked up

Tanya Nicole Kach said that Thomas Hose was "the only person I saw for four years" (per People). He gave her peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to eat, and she passed her time by reading magazines, listening to the radio with headphones on, or watching television. Per Inside Edition, Kach said that Hose took her virginity and told her that he had sexually "trained" and "owned" her. He manipulated her, telling her every day that he would kill her (via WTAE-TV). Kach even wrote out a will because she was so convinced Hose would end her life.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Jerry Kach, Tanya Nicole Kash's father, actually met Thomas Hose. About three years after Tanya had gone missing, they met at a school event, where Hose worked as a school security guard. Jerry actually asked Hose if he had heard anything about Tanya, to which Hose replied that he hadn't.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Her saddest moments

Tanya Nicole Kach often thought about her family. Inside Edition reports that Kach's saddest moments were around the holidays, particularly Christmas. She said, "I spent four Christmas Eves in a closet and hear them opening gifts and laughing and having fun. And I would sit there and think of my family, and think of other people in the world and what they were doing at that moment."

Hose's house was just 2 miles away from Kach's parent's house, per The New York Times. But Kach has said that she wasn't allowed outside at all for the first four years of her imprisonment, and she was so terrified of her captor and his constant violent threats that she didn't immediately alert anyone about her situation. When she turned 18, Hose finally let her venture outside (per People). He also let her meet his parents, introducing her as his live-in girlfriend named "Nikki Diane Allen."

Seeking help

Per Inside Edition, it took seven years before Tanya Nicole Kach was allowed outside by herself, and Kach finally managed to get help 10 years after being taken (via The New York Times). She was very scared to tell her story and feared that no one would believe her.

Kach began to trust the Sparico family, who ran a deli mart nearby. She got to know Joe and Janet Sparico over a span of eight months before alerting them of who she was. Kach was shaking with terror when she sought help from Joe Sparico, the owner of the deli mart. Although she was scared he wouldn't believe her, one day in March 2006, she told him about her ordeal. Sparico said Kach had a chilling message for him, insisting (per The New York Times), "If you go to a website for missing children, you will see a picture of me there." Sparico called the Center Missing Children hotline and was immediately told that Kach had been missing for 10 years.

Rescued at last

Joe Sparico's wife, Janet, said that she never guessed that Tanya Nicole Kach was being abused based on her physical appearance, but she believed that Kach was heavily brainwashed by Thomas Hose (via The New York Times). As soon as Kach revealed her living situation, Joe Sparico called his son Shawn, a retired police detective. Shawn was familiar with the Kach case — because he had actually been assigned to it. According to People, Kach's photo hung in his office for years, so he instantly recognized her. Kach realized her ordeal was over when she was able to step out of the house and wait in a police car until her father came to pick her up.

Tanya Nicole Kach was 24 years old when she was rescued from Hose's house. "I guess she just chose me to lean on. I'm just glad she's happy and home now," Joe Sparico told reporters (via The New York Times).

Hose's trial

During his sentencing, Thomas Hose reportedly interrupted Tanya Nicole Kachwhile she testified against him (via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). In his own statements, he said he thought he was helping her avoid living on the streets or dying.

Kach spoke directly to Hose during the trial, saying, "You took away my innocence, my childhood. You made me think my family didn't want me or love me; that no one cared or loved me but you. For 10 years, you controlled me." Hose, who was already handcuffed, said, "I'm sorry." Kach told her former captor, "Don't you apologize to me."

Hose was sentenced to between five to 15 years in prison on one count of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. This sentence was light: Hose originally faced numerous other charges that could have kept him in prison for 100 years or more. Hose is forbidden from contacting anyone in the Kach family.

Where are they now?

As Inside Edition reports, Tanya Nicole Kach wrote a book about her experiences entitled "Memoir of a Milk Carton Kid." Her story was told in a 2012 TV movie called "Captive: The Sex Slave Girl," per IMDb

WTAE-TV reports that in 2012, Kach's father and stepmother sued her for defamation, claiming that she made untrue statements in her memoir. Kach revealed that her happy reunion with her parents didn't last long — her father began to blame her for her own kidnapping, telling her, "You knew what you were doing." Kach said she replied, "Dad, I was 14."

Per Pittsburgh's Action News 4, Thomas Hose, now a registered sex offender, was released from prison in February 2022. He served a 15-year sentence. Kach, now 40 years old, was dismayed to hear Hose was now free and said, "It's not such a safe world anymore. ... Through all of these years, though, I have become very resilient. I am not just the victim. I am a survivor."