Iowa couple charged with kidnapping after allegedly keeping child locked under stairs

39-year-old Traci Tyler and 30-year-old Alex Shadlow, charged with first-degree kidnapping. (Hardin County Jail)

An Ackley couple are charged with kidnapping after allegedly caging and torturing a 9-year-old child.

Court documents say 39-year-old Traci Tyler and 30-year-old Alex Shadlow kept Shadlow's biological son in a six-foot by six-foot area underneath the stairs between July and September of 2017. Shadlow let the child go to school each day.

Criminal complaints say the enclosure was dark, had a cement floor and did not have a mattress, blanket or pillow. The child was also not allowed to use a toilet, and was given a tin can to use in the enclosure. Both Tyler and Shadlow also told the child that a dog had died in the same space to mentally torture the child.

A criminal complaint says Tyler assaulted the child with a flyswatter and encouraged their dog to attack and bite the child. The child has permanent scarring on his back and limbs, along with post-traumatic stress symptoms.

In September, the boy's teacher noticed he was always hungry, had low body weight and hair falling out. The boy eventually told his teacher he was being kept under the stairs and was deprived of food. The teacher reported this to the Department of Human Services, who made an unexpected home visit. Tyler told the DHS agent that's where the boy slept because of his "bad behavior and food stealing."

Both are being held in the Hardin County Jail on $500,000 cash only bonds after being charged with first-degree kidnapping. Their initial court appearance is scheduled for Thursday.

First-degree kidnapping, a class A felony, carries a mandatory life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off