ELDORA -- Prosecutors showed video of an 8-year-old boy screaming while he needed to use the bathroom as trial resumed for his father's girlfriend on Friday.

In the footage, the child is seen dressed in pajamas and wearing a backpack in a dining room. He stands and shuffles his feet, holding his hands over his groin area. He bends over in agony, always screaming.

It lasts for seven minutes while someone off camera films with a cell phone, occasionally shooing away the family dog, who tries to investigate.

At one point he apparently wets himself.

An Iowa DCI agent who discovered the video said it came from Traci Tyler's phone, and the agent said she could be heard in the background. Three similar videos, lasting 30 seconds or less, also were recovered.

Tyler, 40, of Ackley, is charged with kidnapping. The state alleges she and the boy's father, 30-year-old Alex Shadlow, withheld food from him and abused him in 2017. Prosecutors said the boy was made to sleep in a locked enclosure behind steps in the basement and given a coffee can for a toilet, allegedly because the couple had trouble with him urinating and defecating in the house.

Tyler has opted for a bench trial, allowing a judge to determine a verdict instead of a jury.

Testimony in Tyler's case resumed Friday with Agent Jim Thiele showing photos he took of the enclosure about a month after an Iowa Department of Human Services worker had been shown the area and became involved.

Thiele said some of the basement had been altered. The cement floor was painted, the door and frame had been removed, and an interior wall had been taken out, he said.

The agent described finding the door, complete with a metal hasp, in the garage and lumber resting on a mattress in the basement. He reassembled the parts, which matched up, down to the hasp on the door meeting an eye on the rebuilt frame.

You have free articles remaining.

Become a Member

The enclosure measured 5.7 feet wide and 6.6 feet long with a ceiling that ranged from 7.3 feet to 4.7 feet high. A partition blocked off the shorter descent under the stairs, and the door was about 2.5 feet wide, Thiele said.


District Court Judge James Ellefson listens to testimony in the trial of Traci Lynn Tyler on Feb. 8, 2019.

He used the measurements to make a reconstruction of the enclosure, which was set up in the courthouse for the judge to review.

Also on Friday, Tyler's former employer, Anthony Miller, took the stand and explained photos Tyler had sent him through Facebook messenger. He said he had never been to the home, but Tyler had shown him the boy's sleeping arrangements in the basement.

"It was a pillow, a blanket and it looked like a blow-up mattress," Miller said. 

Miller, who had operated a bar and grill at a campground, said Tyler had complained about the boy urinating in the registers and his bedroom, and climbing on the stove to retrieve food from on top of the refrigerator.

She sometimes took the child to the bar and grill, he said, and Miller identified a photo Tyler sent him of the boy sweeping at the establishment. Miller said Tyler told him she made the boy sweep because he had stolen crackers.

Miller also recounted seeing Tyler and Shadlow during a camping outing. They came to his camper for drinks, and after half an hour to 45 minutes, Miller asked where the boy was. He said he was told the boy was in the back of their truck. He said the get-together lasted about two hours.

Shadlow is being tried separately.

Testimony in Tyler's trial is expected to resume Tuesday.

Sign up for our Crime & Courts newsletter

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Police and Courts Reporter

Cops and courts reporter for the Courier

Load comments