Back in 2004, Brittany Fish was kidnapped, abused and left to die — at only 5 years old. The timeline of events was devastating, and yet miraculous.
Now 19, she recently sat down with Spectrum News reporter Brittani Moncrease to share her story — her first interview as an adult. The first story in a five-part series debuts Monday evening at 5 p.m.
On April 24, 2004, around 6 p.m. Brittany left riding her scooter from her home on Carbon Street in Syracuse to visit her friend two blocks away. But shortly after, Brittany’s mother learned she never arrived to her friend’s home and contacted police.
Sometime later, friends found her scooter in a storm drain on Hier Avenue – the city’s Northside.
Law enforcement, along with community members, conducted a massive search. Community members handed out flyers. Officers canvassed the neighborhood, helicopter searches were initiated and the media was contacted to get the word out.
The next day, a Sunday, police did a helicopter search scanning Schiller Park.
Now-former Syracuse Police Chief Dennis DuVal met with Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick and the FBI to discuss the case and resources.
And then around 5 p.m., a property owner found Brittany in a vacant lot on Schuyler Road in DeWitt. Brittany was found under a tarp in the blustery cold. Her kidnapper had bound her hands and feet, and wrapped duct tape around her head covering her eyes, nose and mouth.
The property owner called police. That call was received by the 911 center and then transferred to the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office.
The miracle in all of this? In less than 24 hours Brittany Fish was found alive. With no real witnesses or leads, police say an already tragic situation could have ended up much worse.
Brittany was evaluated at Upstate University Hospital, where DuVal and Fitzpatrick met the 5-year-old and her family at the hospital.
Investigators spoke to Brittany about what she could remember. She described her abductor as a balding male with a mustache about 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall. She said he drove a white four-door car with grey interior, and remembered the inside of the car being very dirty.
In May 2004, America’s Most Wanted profiled Brittany Fish’s case in hopes of turning up leads in the investigation.
Then in 2005 — Brittany received the courage award from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
In the spring of the same year, Kevin Schaus was arrested for sexually abusing a young girl. But his description matched key information given by Brittany Fish about her kidnapper and abuser.
Authorities learned that Schaus had been responsible for Brittany Fish’s abduction and abuse. And as it turned out, he also confessed to three other abuse cases.
Schaus was sentenced 20 years-to-life in prison.