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Amber alert a deadly charade
Sheriff says abduction a hoax; mother, boyfriend charged in boy's death

By Jay Reeves
Associated Press Writer

BIRMINGHAM - It was the kind of crime that sends a shiver through any parent.

A child sleeping in the back seat of an idling car. A mysterious man jumping in and driving away. A statewide Amber alert and a frantic search, with helicopters hunting from the skies.

Just such an abduction reported by a young mother in the north Alabama town of Albertville seemed like a nightmare. Instead, police said, it was all a deadly charade.

The frightening story turned grim as the woman and her boyfriend were arrested in the death of her 5-year-old son, whose body was found hidden in a car Tuesday. The discovery came a day after she claimed someone stole the vehicle from a convenience store as the child slept in the back seat.

Shalinda Glass, 25, of Rainbow City was charged with hindering prosecution, and her boyfriend, Kevin Andre Towles, 31, was charged with capital murder in the kindergartner's death.

The abduction - a brash, chilling crime supposedly committed as others watched - was staged, authorities said.

Marshall County District Attorney Steve Marshall said investigators believe the dead child was in the car when his mother drove to the store and went inside with her 7-year-old daughter.

Authorities believe Towles was the "main player" in the child's killing, Etowah County Sheriff James Hayes said in an interview.

Hayes said Glass told police that her son died from a beating after he brought a bad progress report home from school Friday.

Hayes said Towles has a criminal record and appeared to be "an abusive boyfriend of the mother."

The car was found with the boy's body in the trunk at a house allegedly owned by Towles. At the house, officers also found more than $30,000 in cash, a small amount of cocaine, marijuana residue and weapons including an AK-47.

"We believe this is what he thought was his safe house, where nobody knew where he was," Hayes said.

Authorities were trying to determine jurisdiction, but believed the child was killed in Etowah County, where the mother lives, and that the alleged cover-up was committed in neighboring Marshall County, where the car theft was reported.

A third person was being questioned for possible involvement in a cover-up, according to Hayes.

Glass reported Monday morning that her car was stolen with her son asleep in the back seat in the parking lot of a convenience store in Albertville in neighboring Marshall County. Witnesses reported seeing a man get out of a pickup truck and get into the vehicle before driving away as someone else drove off in the pickup truck.

Authorities took the pickup truck driver into custody Tuesday for questioning. Police decided not to charge him because they believe he didn't know what was happening, Marshall said.

"We do expect others to be arrested," Hayes said.

Towles has several residences, Hayes said, and investigators searching his home in Albertville discovered evidence that led them to the house in Etowah County.

Hayes said both the time and cause of the boy's death were yet to be determined.

Alabama state troopers and Albertville police had issued an Amber Alert for the boy, who was said to be last seen in his mother's light blue 1994 Altima. Hayes said the suspects could have tried to dispose of the car - with the body inside - if not for the public being put on alert for the vehicle.

"The Amber Alert was absolutely critical in this case," he said.

Beside being accused in the boy's slaying, Towles will be charged with drug offenses and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, the sheriff said. Then-Etowah County Circuit Judge Roy Moore sentenced Towles to four years of probation for drug possession in 1997, state records show, and he completed the term without incident.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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