A college football player is speaking out after being tortured and abused following his kidnapping. A student at the University of Rochester, Nicholas Kollias tells Crime Watch Daily that football was his life. "For me playing sports and especially football was a huge aspect in my life. I always wanted to continue playing football in college. I was the first one out of my direct family to go to college." In his senior year, he and a teammate, Ani Okeke Ewo, befriended two girls on social media. What followed was a 40-hour ordeal of horror.
"Ani kind of looked over to me and he was like 'Hey I have these two girls who wanna hang out,'" said Kollias to correspondent Elizabeth Smart. "So I said 'Sure. Why don't you have the two girls come over to my apartment and we can hang out with them there.' So Ani took a quick picture of me and sent it to them." The girls met the boys and invited them over to their house. "They didn't want to go in my apartment and they suggested that we go over to their place," said Nicholas. "They were in a nice car. Nothing seemed unusual or abnormal."
They pulled up to 22 Harvest Street and went inside. That's when he says the two were attacked by a group of assailants. "I sat down on this couch in the living room and next thing I knew it was just, the lights went out and about five to 10 men in just masks come out just screaming, so many loud noises, and just they're all armed with bats and bars and knives, guns, and the first thing that just pops in, I mean, fight or flight. I got up as fast as I could and tried running to the side door," said Nicholas. "I only made it about halfway across the room before I felt something like being pressed up to the side of my upper leg, and then the next thing I remember is just being on the ground."
He had been shot in the leg.
For the next 40 hours, the assailants tortured and brutalized the boys, including sexual assault. Kollias was beaten with a hedge-trimmer, a bat, a pipe, then hit over the head repeatedly. The attackers demanded the boys, while at gunpoint, call financial institutions to get withdrawal limits increased so they could take the money.
School officials noticed the football players' absence and contacted authorities. They went through the missing athletes' social media pages and ended up tracking down the girls who lured them, Samantha Hughes and Leah Gigliotti. The girls eventually revealed the address of the crime scene. SWAT teams came in an rescued the two boys.
In total, five men and four women have been placed in custody for the crime. The crime appears to be a case of mistaken identity. The alleged ringleader, Lydell Strickland, was apparently looking for revenge on another University of Rochester football player, Isaiah Smith. According to the Chicago Tribune,
Strickland was convicted of kidnapping, gang assault, predatory sexual assault, robbery and weapons possession. According to The Chicago Tribune, he was sentenced to 155 years to life in prison.
[Photo: Crime Watch Daily]