Public Safety

Hardin County couple accused of repeatedly locking child in basement and denying him food

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A Hardin County man and his girlfriend have been accused of first-degree kidnapping after an investigation uncovered they had allegedly locked the man’s nine-year-old son in a basement enclosure for long stretches of time, denying him food, water and use of a bathroom.

Affidavits filed Tuesday in Hardin County District Court show Alex Craig Shadlow, 30, and his girlfriend 39-year-old Traci Lynn Tyler, both of Ackley, locked the child in a six-by-six-foot area under the basement stairs for approximately nine hours each day between July and September of 2017.

“There was no light in the basement enclosure and the floors were made of cement and the makeshift ‘door’ was secured from outside by a lock,” the affidavit states.

While locked in the basement, investigators said the boy was forced to sleep “on a bare floor … without a pillow, blanket or any such bedding.”

The child was also denied access to a bathroom, the complaint states, and instead was given “a makeshift toilet made of a small tin coffee can,” that was “placed in the enclosure.”

Investigators said Shadlow and Tyler repeatedly beat the child “with the handle of a fly swatter and urged their dog to bite and attack the boy.” The boy sustained “permanent scarring on his back and limbs, along with complications of post-traumatic stress symptoms,” the complaint states.

Each weekday morning, investigators said, the child was let out of the enclosure to go to school, which was located across from the couple’s residence.

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As the abuse continued, the complaint states the child’s teachers and school administrators began to notice concerning behaviors.

At the beginning of the school year, teachers told investigators the boy was “quiet … a loner, a good student and always hungry, causing school personnel to have great concern for his welfare.”

In September, school personnel took note of the child’s “repeated food-seeking behavior, low body weight and hair falling out in patches.”

The boy eventually told his teachers he was “being locked in the basement under the stairs after school each day and not released until the next morning.”

That’s when the school called the Department of Human services. DHS made an impromptu visit to the home where they observed and photographed the enclosure and removed the child from the couple’s custody.

Investigators said Tyler and Shadlow admitted to locking the boy away each night, blaming the boy’s bad behavior and food stealing.

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

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