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Age-Progressed Image Released Of Washington Toddler Missing Since 1999
Crimestoppers and the Tacoma Police Department released the image as part of a renewed effort to find Teekah Lewis, who disappeared from a bowling alley in January 1999 when she was just two.
Investigators in Washington state have launched a new effort to find a missing child believed to have been kidnapped from Tacoma as a two-year-old in 1999.
Crime Stoppers and the Tacoma Police Department just released a new age-progressed photo of what Teekah Lewis may look like today, when she would be in her mid 20s. Teekah is Black and Native American, with black hair and brown eyes, police said. She had pierced ears at the time of her disappearance.
Teekah disappeared from the New Frontier Lanes bowling alley in Tacoma, Washington on Jan. 23, 1999, police said. She was last seen playing in the arcade area of the bowling alley, when, at her turn to bowl, Teekah’s mother asked her family members to watch the girl, she told People.
“I turned back and asked, ‘Where’s Teekah?’” Theresa Czapiewski told the magazine in 2019. “It was the biggest mistake of my life.”
A maroon late-1980s or 1990s Pontiac Grand Am with tinted windows and a spoiler was seen driving away from the bowling alley parking lot shortly after she disappeared, according to police. Tacoma police are still trying to identify a person of interest seen at the bowling alley when Teekah went missing, Seattle Fox affiliate KCPQ reported. He is described as a white man who was around 5'11” with a husky build, shoulder-length curly brown hair with a thick mustache and a heavily pock-marked face.
“At this point, we don’t have any evidence, any physical evidence,” police told CNN. “We have no body. And while that remains the case, there’s always the chance she is still somewhere out there. It’s a big mystery.”
Police told KCPQ that it’s possible Teekah is alive and doesn’t know she was a kidnapping victim.
“It’s like a nightmare, living over and over again without any answers,” Czapiewski told the station. “The one thing I’ll never do is give up on Teekah because I know she’s out there.”
“I’ve missed my baby’s first day of preschool, kindergarten, graduation — I’ve missed all that,” Czapiewski told People three years ago.
Police say they’ve investigated hundreds of tips over the years, but there’s been no sign of Teekah. When the toddler disappeared in 1999, police told CNN they went to great lengths to find her, including mowing down a wetland and using search dogs.
In January of 2019, Washington State Patrol put Teekah’s image on semi-trailers as part of a statewide effort to find her, according to NBC Seattle affiliate KING.
Police said the new photo showing how Teekah might currently look was created by the Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services (FACES) Laboratory at Louisiana State University, which offers forensic anthropology services to law enforcement and coroner’s offices.
Larry Livaudais, an imaging specialist at the lab, told CNN it took him about three weeks to create the age progression image. He referenced about four dozen photos of Teekah’s mother, father and siblings alongside images of Teekah herself to create an image of what she might well look like in 2022.
“It really is an artistic creation, but it is based upon scientific knowledge of facial growth patterns and morphological changes that take place in the face,” Livaudais said to CNN, adding that he built cognitive triggers into the image that are designed to spur recognition and memory in people who know might know Teekah now.
“I’m just hoping one day Teekah sees her herself and she's like 'maybe that’s me,'" Czapiewski told Fox 13. "It’s time to bring her home. Time to give us closure. All we want is to know what happened to her. If you’ve seen what happened, come forward.”
Anyone with information in the case can get up to $1000 for information leading to an arrest and charges filed by contacting Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS. All tips can remain anonymous.