ELDORA, Iowa – A father accused of holding his son prisoner under the stairs is pleading not guilty.
Alex Craig Shadlow, 30, and Traci Lynn Tyler, 39, are charged with 1st degree kidnapping. Authorities say the two forced Shadlow’s biological son to stay locked up in a six foot by six foot area under the basement stairs of their Ackley home.
Shadlow entered a not guilty plea Monday. No trial date has been set. Tyler pleaded not guilty on August 6 and will stand trial on September 10.
According to court documents, Shadlow and his girlfriend Tyler kept Shadlow’s son locked in a 6x6 unlighted area under the basement stairs. Authorities say the boy was kept in the makeshift cell for nine hours or more each day, being released each morning to attend the school across the street from Shadlow and Tyler’s home.
Law enforcement says the boy was not allowed out from under the stairs to use the bathroom and was given a small tin coffee can instead. Authorities say he was also forced to sleep on the cement floor without a mattress, pillow, or blanket. In addition, Shadlow and Tyler reportedly told the boy that a “dog had died” or was buried in the space in the space under the stairs.
Tyler is also accused of hitting the boy repeatedly with the handle of a fly swatter and urging her dog to bite and attack the boy. Shadlow and Tyler are also accused of depriving the boy of food.
Authorities say the boy suffered permanent scarring on his back and limbs from the abuse and has shown signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.
The boy was removed from Shadlow’s home after teachers reported he showed low body weight, had hair falling out in patches, and repeatedly demonstrated what is described as food-seeking. A teacher said the boy eventually said he was locked under the stairs after school each day and not released until the next morning. A Department of Human Services worker made an unannounced visit to the home, photographed the enclosure under the basement stairs, and reported that Tyler admitted they locked the boy in there.
1st degree kidnapping in Iowa is a class “A” felony, punishable by life in prison without possibility of parole. This case was investigated by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation with the assistance of the Ackley Police Department, Hardin County Sheriff’s Office, and Hardin County Attorney’s Office.