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Couple Charged for Keeping Child Locked Under Staircase

A father and his girlfriend have been accused of child abuse and kidnapping after it was discovered that the couple had allegedly been forcing the man’s son into a locked space underneath the staircase for hours at a time over a suspected period of two to three months.

30-year-old Alex Craig Shadlow, and his 39-year-old girlfriend, Traci Lynn Tyler, share a home in Ackley, Iowa, along with Shadlow’s 8-year-old son.

During the summer in 2017, Shadlow and Tyler were reported to the police when their neighbors saw that they had placed the child inside of a tent to sleep for the night in the backyard during a lightning storm with heavy rain. The officer who investigated the claim made by the neighbor reported the incident to the Iowa Department of Human Services.

When school started in September, the child began the year at a campus located across the street from his home, and teachers said that he was well-behaved but that they were concerned about the fact that he reportedly always seemed hungry.

A bit after the start of the school year the boy confided in one of his teachers and said that each day after school he was allegedly placed into a space under the staircase in the basement of his home that was affixed with a door and a lock, and that he was left there until the following morning. When the teacher reported what she had been told to DHS the boy was taken from the residence and placed into foster care while the situation was investigated.

After DHS received notification about the alleged abuse that the school had reported to them they decided to go to the home without giving Shadlow and Tyler any advanced notice so that they might learn more about the claims. When they inspected the premises they allegedly located the room in the basement under the stairs and noticed that it had a handmade door with a lock on the outside.

When Tyler was questioned about the space she allegedly told the DHS worker that they used the room as a place to keep the child as punishment for when he misbehaved by stealing food and acting out.

Court documents state that no lights were in the 8×8 space designated for the boy and that he was given a coffee can to use as a makeshift toilet. It is also suspected that he was subjected to mental abuse causing him to display signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. The child’s body reportedly contains permanent scarring, and the authorities believe that it was caused by Tyler beating him with a flyswatter, in addition to allowing their dog to bite the boy.

Shadlow and Tyler were taken into custody and they are facing charges of first-degree kidnapping. They were both booked into the Hardin County Jail and each of them is being held in lieu of a $500,000 bond.

Shadlow’s sister issued a statement saying that the family is very shocked to learn of the allegations because Shadlow has always shown extreme love for his child. They hold the belief that the relationship he shares with Tyler had influenced the situation.

If they are convicted of the charges, Shadlow and Tyler could be sentenced for up to life in prison.

If you or someone you love is suspected of child abuse, contact Orange County criminal defense lawyer Staycie R. Sena at (949) 477-8088 for a consultation now.