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Teekah Lewis: New age progression photo released of toddler kidnapped in 1999

KOMO-TV Seattle 12/2/2022 KOMO News Staff
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It’s been nearly 24 years since 2-year-old Teekah Lewis was kidnapped from a Tacoma bowling alley.

Teekah went bowling with her mother and family at New Frontier Lanes along Center Street in Tacoma on Jan. 23, 1999. She was last seen playing in the arcade area of the bowling alley and was reported missing around 10:30 p.m.

No one reported seeing Teekah leave the bowling alley and no primary suspects have been found or named related to her disappearance.

On Thursday, the Tacoma Police Department released a new age progression photo of Teekah created by Louisiana State University’s FACES Laboratory.

Teekah would now be in her mid 20s.

“The main challenge with this particular case is basically a lack of evidence and no clear eyewitnesses,” Tacoma police detective Julie Dier said Thursday. “That is, at this time, what we are looking for, somebody to come forth and give us something we did not have before.”

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Theresa Czapieski, Teekah’s mother, said she cried when she first saw the new age progression photo of her daughter.

“After all these years, they finally made a picture that looks like my daughter,” Czapieski said Thursday. “I’m hoping this picture can bring new light to the case, bring more people calling in saying, ‘We know where this child is,’ or, ‘We know what happened to [Teekah].”

Dier said Teekah’s body nor the clothing she was wearing at the time of her disappearance were ever found, adding that, “It is a possibility she is still alive and does not know she was a kidnap victim.”

"Maybe if somebody saw something back then and either didn’t realize it was important or now has decided, ‘Hey maybe I should say something.’ This is the hope that this will trigger that response and have somebody come forth and say something," Dier said. 

Numerous tips have been called in over the years, but police still don't have a suspect in the case.

“I will not give up on Teekah,” Czapieski said. “I know she’s out there, unless, you know, there’s evidence that she’s not here anymore.

Czapieski said she hopes people will share the new photo and that her daughter will see it online.

“Maybe [Teekah] will look and [say], ‘Wow, that girl looks like me,’” Czapieski said. “They just had a story 51 years later, this lady found herself. That’s what I’m hoping, one day Teekah sees herself and be like, ‘Maybe that’s me.’”

Tacoma police also released information about a possible vehicle of interest seen speeding away from the bowling alley parking lot shortly after Teekah went missing. Photos of a similar make and model car were shared with the public.

Witnesses described the vehicle as a late ‘80s or early ‘90s Pontiac Grand Am with tinted windows and a spoiler. Dier said witnesses described the vehicle as a maroon color but said, “under the lights [the vehicle] could be something darker or lighter.”

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In 2020, police released a description of a man seen at the bowling alley the night of Teekah’s disappearance they believe may be connected to the case. Detectives still hope to find and talk with the man after all these years. 

Officials described the man as white, between the ages of 30-40, about 5-foot-11-inches tall with a husky build. He had wavy brown hair, a thick mustache and pockmarks on his face, police said.

"We just want to know that you’re there,” said Katarina Johnson, Teekah’s sister. “Maybe we can possibly try to get a relationship with you [Teekah] or maybe not – maybe you don’t want anything to do with us. But it would just be us knowing that she’s not dead.”

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Crime Stoppers of Tacoma-Pierce County at 1-800-222-TIPS. Tips can also be submitted using the P3Tips mobile app. A $1,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and charges in the case.

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