Members of Congress are raising questions about the upcoming release from prison of a Fairfax County, Virginia, man who kidnapped and tortured a 13-year-old Pittsburgh girl in 2002.
A News4 I-Team report earlier this month revealed the U.S. Bureau of Prisons transferred Scott Tyree to a halfway house just four miles from the home of his victim’s family in Pittsburgh. The I-Team report triggered outrage from the family, raised questions about federal prison policy and elicited strong responses from Congress.
Tyree pleaded guilty to federal sex crimes in 2003 and served most of a 19-year prison sentence.
He lured his victim on the internet in January 2002, then drove from Fairfax County to Pittsburgh to abduct her and hold her captive in his Herndon townhouse.
The crime led to a national manhunt, and the rescue of Alicia Kozakiewicz after a four-day search.
The I-Team learned the U.S. Bureau of Prisons transferred Tyree from the federal prison in Butner, North Carolina, to a halfway house in downtown Pittsburgh in December. The transfer indicates Tyree plans to re-enter the community in Pittsburgh, rather than Fairfax County.
He’s scheduled to receive a full release from prison in April.
“There’s no reason he should be our problem,” said Mary Kozakiewicz, Alicia’s mother. “As long as he’s here, he’s going to be our problem. It’s terrifying. It’s emotional abuse."
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, a member of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, formally requested information about the case from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. In a letter to the agency, Rep. Wasserman Schultz said there are “grave concerns” about the decision to transfer Tyree within four miles of Alicia’s family. Her letter said the transfer “is a particularly egregious oversight.” The congresswoman also requested the U.S. Bureau of Prisons provide records about Tyree’s incarceration and release.
The I-Team learned Pennsylvania members of Congress, who represent the Kozakiewicz family, are also reviewing the decision.
The state's two U.S. senators made a statement to the I-Team, saying they are pressing the U.S. Bureau of Prisons for more information to ensure the rights of the victim and her family were protected and to request the transfer of Tyree to a different facility due to the unique circumstances of this case.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons has declined multiple requests for comment about its decision to transfer Tyree to the Pittsburgh halfway house. The agency instead referred the I-Team to policies listed on its website, including a policy saying the agency considers the history of the offender and the nature of the crime when considering transfers.
“Whose bright idea was it that (Tyree) should go back to live in the community where the victim lives and where his crime occurred?” said safety advocate Camille Cooper, who works for the National Association to Protect Children.
“This is re-traumatizing them,” Cooper said.
The U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania prosecuted Tyree in 2003. In a statement, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney said inmates are “customarily” released in the community in which they were prosecuted.
“This is not someone who stole a bicycle, this is not someone who transported cocaine across state lines, this is someone who abducted and tortured a young woman almost to death. You don't put that type of offender anywhere near the victim,” Cooper said.
Cooper and the Kozakiewicz family said they would urge the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to transfer Tyree to a different halfway house further from Pittsburgh.
“We should be able to live our lives," Mary Kozakiewicz said. "We are the victims. We are not the perpetrators.”