Authorities last night charged the father of a missing infant with first-degree murder, hours after they canceled Maryland's first Amber Alert, which was activated when the man reported that the child had been abducted.
Baltimore police arrested Kenneth Jenkins, 20, and charged him after consulting officials from the state's attorney's office, authorities said, although the body of 2-month-old A'Shia Jenkins of Baltimore still has not been found.
Earlier, police said Jenkins had admitted lying about A'Shia's disappearance. Under the Amber Alert, activated Tuesday afternoon, information about the reported abduction was broadcast on radio and television and flashed on about 60 electronic highway signs in the state.
The alert was halted at 5 a.m. yesterday after Baltimore investigators notified Maryland State Police that the focus of their inquiry had shifted to the father, said Lt. Bud Frank, a state police spokesman.
A Baltimore police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed a report on the Baltimore Sun's Web site that Jenkins had admitted to investigators that he put A'Shia's body in an outdoor trash bin after finding her dead in their home. Jenkins said he called 911 about two hours later and reported the abduction, according to the police official.
Investigators and police academy recruits searched the trash bin and a trash recycling plant in the city yesterday but did not find the child, authorities said. On Tuesday, Jenkins told police that after he got in an unlicensed, unmarked taxicab in Baltimore with his twin infant daughters, the cabdriver robbed him at gunpoint. He said he got out of the cab with one of the girls and was reaching back for A'Shia when the driver sped away with the child still inside.
Frank said authorities do not regret activating the alert, named for Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old Texas girl kidnapped in 1996 and later found dead. There are 83 Amber Alert programs nationwide, including 34 statewide systems, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
"I think it was very successful in terms of how quickly it was disseminated and how it was received," Frank said. "We had a number of people call us. Even if in reality it was just a test of the system, it showed us that it works."
Staff researcher Bobbye Pratt and staff writer Clarence Williams contributed to this report.