It’s a case that hits close to home for a woman from Pittsburgh because she survived a similar nightmare.
“Nicole’s case, I hear it, and I think, ‘Wow, that could have been me,’” said Alicia Kozakiewicz from her home in Chicago, where she has been closely following the case of Nicole Lovell.
Police say Virginia Tech students Natalie Keepers and David Eisenhauer planned the murder of Lovell, whom he met online. Investigators say they found messages from him on her phone.
Investigators say Eisenhauer killed her the same day she climbed out of her bedroom window to meet him.
“Our cases are different, but they’re also very similar,” said Kozakiewicz.
Kozakiewicz was also 13 when she befriended someone online, never imagining it was a 38-year-old man.
He took her to his home in Virginia where he tortured and raped her in his basement. Four days later, the FBI tracked them down and rescued her.
“When this happened to me, this was 2002, so the Internet was very different,” said Kozakiewicz. “I had the big old desktop in the family room and that was pretty much it. Nowadays, kids have their mobile devices with them at all times and predators have access to them at all times.”
Kozakiewicz has made it her mission to tell her story to kids and to lobby for laws to protect young people.
Now she’s wondering if she had spoken at Lovell’s school, whether she could have made a difference.
Her advice to parents is this: “It’s sad, but they need to invade their kids’ privacy,” said Kozakiewicz. “And I know that’s a very precious thing, but their safety is so much more important.”
CBS News reports that Nicole Lovell told friends she was using an anonymous messaging app to connect with an 18-year-old man.
As for Kozakiewicz, she will graduate with a Master’s degree in forensic psychology and plans on getting married later this year in Pittsburgh.