- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 13, 2003

BALTIMORE (AP) Baltimore police charged the father of missing 2-month-old girl with first-degree murder.
Kenneth Jenkins, 20, was charged late yesterday, city police spokesman Troy Harris said.
"We received enough information, and, with other investigatory techniques, to give us reason to believe the child is dead," he said.
Police said earlier yesterday that Mr. Jenkins, 20, fabricated a story that A'Shia Jenkins was taken by an armed taxi driver.
"The whole story was fabricated," said Baltimore police spokeswoman Ragina Averella, explaining that officers first questioned Mr. Jenkins' story because it had "inconsistencies."
The Baltimore Sun reported on its Web site late yesterday that Mr. Jenkins called the girl's mother, 19-year-old Lakeisha Ballou, early Tuesday and told her he had put the baby's body in a trash bin after he found her dead. The report quoted Miss Ballou.
Miss Averella declined to comment on the report. Police, meanwhile, continued to search for the infant. Detectives set up a command center at a South Baltimore trash incinerator but disbanded it late yesterday, saying they found no evidence.
Before the murder charge was filed, WBAL-TV (Channel 11) in Baltimore reported that Mr. Jenkins was being held on a charge he violated probation, stemming from an earlier auto-theft conviction, but police declined to comment on that report.
Investigators first began interviewing him Tuesday afternoon.
Miss Ballou told the Sun that Mr. Jenkins said he awoke about 6 a.m. Tuesday to find the baby dead. He said he panicked, wrapped the body in a pink blanket and put it in a cardboard box.
Amber Alerts are bulletins distributed quickly through radio and television broadcasts and electronic highway signs about kidnapped children and their abductors. Thirty-four states have implemented statewide systems to issue the alerts, named for Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old girl abducted in Arlington, Texas, and later found murdered.
Mr. Jenkins had told Baltimore police he hailed an illegal cab and got into the vehicle with A'Shia and her twin sister. The driver pulled over several blocks later and demanded money at gunpoint, he said.
The father told investigators the driver then told him to get out, and he was able to leave with one child before the car took off, police said.
Detective Danny Moses said police did not regret issuing the alert based on Mr. Jenkins' description of an unmarked cab.
"I think the issue is a 2-month-old baby," Detective Moses said. "That's the bottom line. At that point we had to go with what we had."
A review committee will look into how Maryland State Police used the alert, said Carla Proudfoot, director of the Maryland Center for Missing Children. The center acts as the clearinghouse for all information issued on the state's missing children.
But a preliminary review showed the alert was issued correctly, she said.
Lt. Bud Frank, a state police spokesman, said the department isn't questioning its criteria for the alert.
The state agency depends on city and county law enforcement agencies to investigate reported abductions and pass information to Amber Alert administrators, said Lt. Frank, who characterized Tuesday's alert as a success.
"Baltimore police thought they had credible information, and they sent it to us, and we sent it out," Lt. Frank said. "From this end, we're extremely pleased with the way it worked."
State police received "innumerable" reports from motorists who spotted white, four-door, Honda Accords the description Mr. Jenkins gave of a car he said sped away with A'Shia, Lt. Frank said.

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