- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 20, 2003

BALTIMORE Police yesterday said they accidentally erased a tape recording of a man admitting that he inadvertently killed his 2-month-old daughter, prompting an internal investigation.
Kenneth Jenkins, who has been charged with first-degree murder, was interviewed last week by homicide detectives about the disappearance of his daughter, A'Shia Jenkins. He initially told police the infant was taken by an unlicensed cabdriver who had robbed him, prompting authorities to issue Maryland's first Amber Alert.
In later interviews, police said, Mr. Jenkins, 20, admitted to accidentally killing his daughter and then dumping her body into a trash bin.
"It is regrettable that the tape's contents were lost; however, we believe there is sufficient evidence to support the charges brought by detectives in this case," Police Commissioner Kevin Clark said.
Police reportedly made four audiotapes of their interview with Mr. Jenkins, but instead of dubbing the fourth tape, they erased it. That was the tape on which Mr. Jenkins specifically talked about putting his hands over his daughter's face, police said.
The tape was sent to the FBI for recovery of any information on the cassette, but no usable information was obtained, police said.
Detectives also took notes to document the interviews in addition to the tape recordings, police spokeswoman Ragina Averella said.
She said she was not aware of any other interviews with suspects ever being erased at the department. No one at the department was suspended, and she said she didn't know how long the internal investigation would last.
Mr. Jenkins remains in jail without bail. A'Shia's body has not been found, and police believe it may have been incinerated at a landfill.
After changing his story, Mr. Jenkins told officer he found his daughter dead "face down on the bed between two pillows smashing her face," police said.
According to court documents, Mr. Jenkins told police that when they find A'Shia "her face would be pushed in and flat." He went on to tell police he had "killed his daughter by accident" after the child started crying between 2 and 2:30 a.m. Feb. 11, according to the documents.
After trying to quiet her, Mr. Jenkins told police, he fell asleep with his arm over her back, killing her accidentally, police said.
Police began questioning Mr. Jenkins the day he reported the infant was taken, and he was charged late the next day.
The fictitious abduction story prompted Maryland to issue its first Amber Alert. The system named for Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old Texas girl who was abducted and killed relays information about the missing child through radio and television broadcasts and electronic highway signs.
The Maryland alert was canceled when inconsistencies in Mr. Jenkins' story were uncovered.


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