Eldora, Iowa: A 9-year-old boy clutched a stuffed animal as he told a judge that his father’s girlfriend often withheld food and helped lock him under a staircase in the basement at their Iowa home.
“I couldn’t get out” of the basement enclosure, the boy testified Wednesday in an Eldora courtroom at the bench trial of 40-year-old Traci Tyler.
Tyler and the boy’s father, Alex Shadlow, are being tried separately on kidnapping charges, accused of locking the then-8-year-old in the basement of their Ackley home for at least nine hours a day in the summer of 2017.
The boy said the basement was dark and “supercold,” and that he was scared because he had been told a dog had died or been buried in the basement where he had to sleep without bedding, The Des Moines Register reported . He also said Tyler hit him with the wire handle of a flyswatter and made him carry a backpack filled with rocks throughout the house.
He acknowledged getting into trouble for climbing onto kitchen counters while trying to find something to eat.
One of Tyler’s attorneys, Ted Fisher, questioned the boy about his statements to police, in which he said he had urinated in the home. The boy placed his face in his hands and wiped away tears.
“That’s the only naughty thing you did at the house?” Fisher asked when the boy said he climbed on the counters. The boy said he also had “accidents” in the home.
Fisher said the boy had told a doctor that he refused to eat at home because he was fed liver and spinach. Fisher also told the judge that the boy had said he hit himself and pulled out his hair because he didn’t want to stay and obey the house rules, which barred lying and stealing.
Police said Tyler acknowledged the boy was locked in the basement because of his “bad behaviour and food stealing.”
The trial was cancelled Thursday because of the frigid winter weather.
EARLIER: Iowa woman recorded tortured 8yo boy locked in basement: Prosecutor
Traci Tyler, an Iowa woman accused of helping torture her boyfriend’s 8-year-old son and confining him in a basement took video of the boy’s treatment, a prosecutor said at the beginning of her trial.
“This part of the crime is on tape,” prosecutor Tyler Buller said Tuesday as he began to lay out his case against Traci Tyler, 40. Buller told Judge James Ellefson he would see the boy, desperate to use the bathroom, in so much pain “he eventually loses control of his bodily function and urinates.”
Tyler and Alex Shadlow locked the boy in their home, in a space under the basement stairs, for at least nine hours a day in the summer of 2017, prosecutors have said. The two are both charged with kidnapping.
The boy told authorities they withheld food from him and made him sleep on concrete and use a tin cup for a toilet. Tyler also urged her dog to attack the boy, which left scars on his back and limbs, the documents said.
The boy’s school alerted investigators after the boy talked about what he said his life was like at the home in Ackley.
One of Tyler’s attorneys, Aaron Siebrecht, said the prosecutors didn’t accurately describe what happened at the home and that Tyler was following the advice of medical professionals in requiring the boy to seek permission to use a bathroom, because he was having “accidents” in the house.
“At the end of the day,” Siebrecht said, “there is no intent, there is no injury, there is no kidnapping.”
Shadlow’s trial starts June 24.