Plea cancels kidnapping case for Dickinson County jury
Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Dickinson County jurors will not have to hear evidence surrounding the abuse and isolation of an 8-year-old boy from Ackley.
The boy's father, 31-year-old Alex Shadlow, agreed to a Class C felony-level charge of kidnapping and two Class C felony charges of child endangerment July 8.
Shadlow's case was moved from Hardin County to Spirit Lake to increase the chance of finding an impartial jury pool. The trial was scheduled to be heard Aug. 12 in Dickinson County.
Shadlow and his girlfriend, 40-year-old Traci Tyler were arrested on allegations of abuse and neglect, which took place over the summer of 2017. They were accused of locking Shadlow's 8-year-old son in the family's dark basement without appropriate access to food, bedding or restroom facilities.
Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation affidavits led to a criminal complaint on July 17, 2018. DCI agent Jim Thiele was prepared to tell a jury the boy "was locked in an enclosed 6-by-6-foot area under the basement stairs for prolonged periods of time — nine hours or longer each day."
Thiele said the boy's parents only let him out of a dark basement enclosure to attend school, which was just across the street. A makeshift door was locked from the outside, so the child couldn't get out of the enclosure to use the bathroom. Shadlow and Tyler forced their son to use a coffee can as a toilet. He slept on a concrete floor without a pillow, blanket or mattress. The parents are also accused of tormenting the boy by telling him a "dog had died" or was buried in the same, confined space.
Teachers were concerned when the boy began the 2017-18 school year underweight. They also said he was looking for food during school hours and his hair was falling out in patches.
Shadlow argued his son exhibited destructive and unsafe behaviors in their home. Shadlow and Tyler said the child was detained because he bruised himself, pulled out his own hair and smeared body waste on objects in an effort to live elsewhere.
Prosecutors think Shadlow was "knowingly acting in a manner that created a substantial risk to the physical, mental or emotional health or safety" of the child by using "unreasonable force, torture or cruelty that resulted in bodily injury or was intended to cause serious injury to the boy."
As part of the guilty plea, the father will have to admit that he kept his son confined — and helped his girlfriend keep his son confined — in the basement for at least 30 days in the summer of 2017. The Hardin County Attorney's Office plans to ask the judge to sentence Shadlow to consecutive sentences on the three Class C felonies.
He is scheduled to be sentenced at 10 a..m. Friday, Aug. 16 at the Hardin County Courthouse in Eldora.
Tyler is scheduled to be sentenced an hour earlier for her role in the abuse of her boyfriend's son. She also entered guilty pleas July 8 to three Class C felony counts of child endangerment. She was found guilty in April to misdemeanor false imprisonment.
Prosecutors also want Tyler to serve her felony convictions consecutively.