The Haunting Story Of Tanya Kach, The Milk Carton Kid Who Was Held Captive By Her School’s Security Guard

Published June 6, 2024

In 1996, 14-year-old Tanya Kach ran away with 38-year-old Tom Hose, who had groomed her into believing she was in love with him. Then, he held her captive for 10 years, subjecting her to constant emotional and sexual abuse.

Tanya Kach

Police handoutTanya Kach was groomed and sexually abused by her school security guard for 10 years.

On Feb. 10, 1996, 14-year-old Tanya Kach ran away with the 38-year-old security guard at her middle school to escape her turbulent home life.

What started as a desperate attempt to find peace and companionship turned into a nightmare for the teen girl. Hose imprisoned Kach in a second-story room of his Pennsylvania home, where he sexually abused her and threatened to kill her if she tried to escape.

Her captivity would last 10 long years. It was only when Kach made the brave decision to reveal her identity to a local deli worker that she was finally able to escape Hose’s clutches.

The Early Life Of Tanya Kach

Tanya Nicole Kach had a troubled adolescence. Her parents divorced when she was young, and her mother was mostly absent from Kach’s life, leaving Kach to move in with her father and his girlfriend in McKeesport, Pennsylvania.

Kach got along poorly with her father’s girlfriend. Feeling neglected and unwanted, she began acting out, drinking, smoking cigarettes and marijuana, and frequently running away from home.

Her life at school wasn’t much better. As an eighth grader at Cornell Intermediate School, Kach was a victim of bullying and regularly skipped class to avoid her tormentors.

It was on one such occasion in 1995 that she encountered Tom Hose, a 38-year-old school security guard. Instead of turning her in for playing hooky, however, Hose earned the young girl’s trust.

“He listened to my problems,” Kach later told People in 2023. “And he made me laugh.”

Kach In Hose Home

Tanya KachTanya Kach in Tom Hose’s house.

The two struck up an unusual friendship, with Hose showering the 14-year-old with gifts — jewelry, candy, money for cigarettes — and convincing her that he was the only person in her life who cared about her. Their relationship took an even darker turn one day when the two shared a kiss in a school stairwell.

“I thought I was in love with him,” Kach later recalled. Eventually, Hose suggested that she run away with him. Believing he was rescuing her from a troubled home life, the lonely teen agreed.

Tanya Kach’s Life In Confinement

On Feb. 10, 1996, Tanya Kach ran away with Thomas Hose. Hose hid her away in the home where he lived with his parents and his son, who was only two years younger than Kach. It soon became apparent that Kach had traded one abusive situation for another.

For four years, Hose confined Kach in his second-floor bedroom. He brought her leftovers from his meals and taught her which creaky floorboards to avoid stepping on so his parents wouldn’t know she was there. She was forced to relieve herself in a bucket, and only allowed out of the room once or twice a week to shower when Hose’s parents were asleep.

Meanwhile, Hose sexually abused the young girl on a daily basis. He even reportedly made her take note of their sessions in a calendar book so “he could brag to co-workers and friends of him engaging [in] sex and how often,” according to a 2007 NBC News report.

Throughout Kach’s captivity, Hose manipulated her into feeling like she had no option but to stay. He told her that no one wanted her, that she was stupid, that he was the only one who cared about her, and that he’d kill Kach and her family if she ever tried to escape.

“I soon became terrified of him,” she said, according to People. “I cried a lot. I did whatever Tom told me to do. He was the only person I saw for four years.”

Age Progression

NCMECTanya Kach was held captive for 10 years in her hometown of McKeesport, Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, police officers listed Tanya Kach as a missing person. Her father had no idea that his lost child was imprisoned just two miles away.

A Daring Bid For Freedom

By the time Tanya Kach turned 18, Tom Hose was convinced she had been brainwashed to the point where she wouldn’t run away. He started introducing her to his family and friends as his live-in girlfriend “Nikki Allen.” He also allowed her to leave the home on occasion to go to church or a local deli, but imposed a strict curfew.

Kach quickly made friends with the deli’s owners. And it was through her interactions with the kind couple that she realized she had to escape.

On March 21, 2006, in a moment of bravery, Tanya Kach revealed her true identity to the deli’s owner, Joe Sparico.

“If you go to a website for missing children, you will see a picture of me,” she told Sparico through tears, according to the Denver Post.

The couple contacted their son, a retired police officer who was familiar with Kach’s case. Soon, police officers were swarming the Hose home.

Tom Hose, then 48, was arrested. And Tanya Kach was finally free at the age of 24.

“I’ll never forget how it felt to step out of that house that day,” she later wrote, according to People. “I got into the cop car, took a deep breath and thought, ‘It’s over. I’m free.'”

The Aftermath Of Tanya Kach’s Kidnapping

In 2007, Tom Hose pleaded guilty to statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children, corruption of a minor, interference with custody of children, and aggravated indecent assault.

Thomas Hose

PA Megan’s LawThomas Hose was released from prison in 2022.

During his hearing, Hose was adamant that he’d helped Kach. According to NBC News, he claimed that Kach often told him, “Thank you, without you, I’d be dead or in the streets.” Despite this, Hose did apologize for how he treated Kach.

“Only God knows how sorry I truly am,” he said.

Hose was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was released in 2022, and subsequently registered as a sex offender.

For Kach, Hose’s captivity had meant her freedom. She received her GED and driver’s license and started taking college courses.

Although happy to be reunited with her family, Kach has since revealed that her father believes she was partly responsible for her own kidnapping. To this day, the two do not maintain contact.

Tanya Kach And Her Husband

Personal photoTanya Kach has been married since 2018.

Despite the bittersweet family reunion, Kach has been successful in her adult life. In September 2018, Tanya Kach got married and became a stepmother, as well as a grandmother to her stepson’s young children.

Today, she advocates for missing and exploited children across the country. She wants others who have experienced trauma to know that there is always hope.

“I’m proof of that,” Kach told People. “I went through the darkest times. Look at me now.”


After reading about Tanya Kach, dive into the story of Elizabeth Shoaf, the “girl in the bunker.” Then, read the true story of Jaycee Dugard, the girl abducted and imprisoned for 18 years.

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Amber Morgan
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Amber Morgan is an Editorial Fellow for All That's Interesting. She graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in political science, history, and Russian. Previously, she worked as a content creator for America House Kyiv, a Ukrainian organization focused on inspiring and engaging youth through cultural exchanges.
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Maggie Donahue
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Maggie Donahue is an assistant editor at All That's Interesting. She has a Master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a Bachelor's degree in creative writing and film studies from Johns Hopkins University. Before landing at ATI, she covered arts and culture at The A.V. Club and Colorado Public Radio and also wrote for Longreads. She is interested in stories about scientific discoveries, pop culture, the weird corners of history, unexplained phenomena, nature, and the outdoors.
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Morgan, Amber. "The Haunting Story Of Tanya Kach, The Milk Carton Kid Who Was Held Captive By Her School’s Security Guard." AllThatsInteresting.com, June 6, 2024, https://allthatsinteresting.com/tanya-kach. Accessed June 22, 2024.