If it hadn’t been for a property dispute, I probably wouldn’t have written the book Memoir of a Milk Carton Kid: The Tanya Nicole Kach Story. Back in March of 2006, my law practice included mundane work, similar to that which I was performing for Jerry Kach, regarding the boundaries of his land and his neighbor’s encroachment on them. In the legal battle with his neighbor, Jerry never mentioned the existence of a daughter, let alone that she had been missing ten years.
Then, on March 21, the story of Tanya’s rescue from the hands of a pedophile riveted the world. Reporters descended upon her father’s house. Jerry’s phone rang incessantly with interview requests. The quarrel with his neighbor dissipated into a distant concern. Everything to come was like nothing I could have imagined.
As Tanya’s story was front page news, my law office in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania—just outside of Pittsburgh, in the southwest part of the state—buzzed with gossip and theories regarding what had really happened to this girl, who had been abducted at the age of fourteen, and kept by her abductor upstairs in his parents’ home for more than a decade. I paid little attention and could not understand the incredible buzz that was going on.
“What do you think about Tanya Kach?” one of my paralegals asked me. “Do you suppose she’s related to Jerry Kach?”
“I doubt it,” I replied, for, at the time, Jerry Kach was one of seven hundred files in my head.
Moments later, he was on the phone, asking if I could help his daughter with the overwhelming media attention she was receiving. I was blown away but willing. We set up an appointment to meet a few days later.
Before I even had a chance to meet Tanya, a headline from the front page of a local newspaper caught my eye. Yet another above-the-fold story in the continuing coverage of the Tanya Kach case, it informed me that I had been named “spokesman” to the Kach family. Immediately, I phoned Jerry and he apologized for failing to advise me of his family’s hasty public declaration. When I arrived at work, the national and international media outlets were already calling. This prelude to meeting any client would have been remarkable in its own right but, in this case, it prepared me only to expect that everything to come was nothing like I had ever known in my career.
Four days after that, I sat in the Kach home, and met with Tanya for the first time.
She came down the stairs wearing a white, fluffy bathrobe, and smoking a cigarette. Her blond hair was styled, and she seemed both wary and distracted.
“Tanya, this is the attorney I told you about,” Jerry said. “He’s going to help us.”
“Okay.” She shook my hand. “Nice to meet you.”
“What do you envision me doing for you?” I asked her.
“I don’t know.” She took a drag of her cigarette. “My dad brought you here.”
“I think you have a lawsuit on your hands,” I told her. “I see liability here because you were abducted by a school security guard.”
As she was a troubled kid at the time of her disappearance, I also told her that the police and school officials were indifferent to her plight and problems, as well as unwitting conspirators in her abduction. It was almost as if they were glad when she disappeared, as if she was a problem solved.
Finally, I handed her a contract, and watched her seemingly skim over the pages.
“Five years?” she asked moments later, and I realized she had read every word of it.
“I really think it’s going to take me that long to do for you what I need to do,” I told her.
“Then I guess I’m in it for the long haul, huh?” And, with that, she signed the contract.
At that moment, I knew for certain what I had suspected in the days leading up to my first encounter with Tanya. My life was going to change forever.
Serving as her counsel for nearly four years thereafter, I reviewed thousands of pages of documents pertaining to her life, ranging from education records, to police reports, to materials related to family legal issues. Through countless conversations with her, as well as scores of people associated with her story, and most of all, through our growing friendship, I became the only person other than Tanya who knew as much about her life. When my legal representation on her behalf ended in late December of 2009, it was only natural that I be the one to help her tell her story.
This is the story behind the headlines – Tanya’s life before, during, and after her bizarre abduction and abuse. I hope the information revealed here causes you to question the fabric of society—including our justice system, our public schools, the police, the media, and the evils that lurk among us. Just as important, I hope it leaves you with the belief that the human spirit can prevail over the worst societal flaws. Regardless of how you perceive what you’ll find in my book, a young girl lost her innocence. Yet, the resilience and faith that she demonstrated in overcoming such adversity serve as reminders that nothing in life is more than any one person can handle. Tanya Kach is proof of that.
Lawrence H. Fisher is a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania author and attorney. He is known for representing clients in high-profile cases. His passion is vindicating the civil rights of all people celebrated and reviled. His books are the perfect union of his work as an attorney and writer.
This book is available from the publisher, BookLocker.com, as well as from Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, and many other stores. If purchasing from BookLocker, use this discount code when checking out to get 10% off: Backstory
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