‘Thrown away like a piece of trash’: Boy, 5, in Amber Alert was strangled to death; 19-year-old cousin arrested, sheriff says

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(PIX11) -- A slain 5-year-old boy who was the subject of an Amber Alert on Thursday was strangled to death by a 19-year-old cousin, who then tossed the body near her house like a "piece of trash" and covered it in snow,  officials said Friday.

Law-enforcement officials said Kenneth White, 5, of Berne, N.Y., was killed by Tiffany VanAlstyne, who has been charged with second degree murder and was arraigned. She pleaded not guilty and was remanded to Albany County Jail without bail.  Authorities would not comment on a motive, but they believe they know it.

“We had more than enough evidence to go forward with a murder charge,” said Craig D. Apple, the Albany County sheriff.

Authorities said the boy died of asphyxiation by strangulation and blunt force trauma to the head. "It is sinful and it is sad," said Apple.

Kenneth’s twin sister, Cheyenne, and a younger sibling were living in the same trailer with VanAlstyne, whose mother, Brenda VanAlstyne, also lives in the home and had custody of the children along with Ken VanAlstyne. Those children are in the care of Child Protective Services. Two other children were in the home at the time.  Authorities termed conditions in the home "unsafe."

Sherrif Apple said he believe Tiffany would often watch the children.

The crime happened between 12:45 and 1:15 p.m. Thursday.

“We had more than enough evidence to go forward with a murder charge,” Sheriff Apple.

The boy’s body was found 40 yard south from the residence where he lived. There is evidence he was taken up the road, thrown over a guardrail and then covered in snow in a culvert, a law enforcement official said. The boy was "thrown away like a piece of trash," Apple said.

Authorities used a K-9 to follow the boy’s scent, which led to the discovery of a body.

The child was the subject of a massive search after an Amber Alert was issued Thursday afternoon. Police were falsely told initially that masked men had stormed the house and fled with the child. Authorities said Tiffany called her mother to tell her that the masked men had taken the child -- her mom told her to call cops, and both ended up calling 911.

Authorities thanked the media for their help in trying to save the child,as well as the public, which has offered donations to help with funeral and burial costs.

Authorities said they ran parallel investigations after receiving the false report. They said inconsistencies emerged while they were questioning Tiffany VanAlstyne.

Officials did not comment on why the children lived with guardians. Kenneth’s mom lives in Amsterdam, N.Y., and his father lives in Massachusetts.

Sheriff Apple said he has three children.

"I'm going to go home and hug them," he said.

 

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