Tiffany VanAlstyne was nineteen years old when she murdered her five year old cousin. According to court documents Tiffany VanAlstyne would beat than strangle the five year old boy causing his death. Tiffany would hide the child’s body and would tell police that he had been abducted. Eventually police figured it out and the child’s body was found. This teen killer would plead guilty and would be sentenced to eighteen years to life in prison
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An Albany hilltowns woman who fatally injured her 5-year-old cousin and hid him in a snowbank while he was still alive has been sentenced to 18 years to life in prison.
Tiffany VanAlstyne was sentenced Thursday morning in Albany County Court.
The 20-year-old admitted beating and choking Kenneth White while caring for him in December 2014. She pleaded guilty in November to depraved indifference murder of a child.
VanAlstyne initially told authorities White had been kidnapped by masked intruders, who had burst through the door of the family’s trailer at 994 Thacher Park Road in East Berne, prompting issuance of a statewide Amber Alert. She later admitted she covered his body with snow after tossing it into a culvert near their home, then called 911 with the abduction story.
White was found dead later that night.
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Tiffany VanAlstyne was a “time bomb waiting to go off” before she choked her 5-year-old cousin Kenneth White and dumped him in the snow, a judge said Thursday in sentencing the 20-year-old Knox woman to 18 years to life in prison for murder.
“It is a tragedy because this never should have happened,” Judge Stephen Herrick told VanAlstyne in Albany County Court as he sentenced the crying Knox woman to 18 years to life in state prison for the murder.
On Dec. 18, 2014, VanAlstyne choked her “little buddy” in their mobile home on Thacher Park Road after she became “a little frustrated” with the kindergartner, she said. Police discovered Kenneth lifeless in a snowbank across the street from the home, but only after VanAlstyne delayed their investigation by concocting a lie that kidnappers abducted the boy.
“There were tell-tale signs that you were at risk. From what I’ve read, this was a time bomb waiting to go off,” the judge told VanAlstyne, 20, noting she had stopped taking medication for her mental illness. “The tell-tale signs were there and not addressed.”
Asked if she wished to speak, VanAlstyne, sobbing, read from a piece of paper: “I want to say that those kids meant the world to me and I loved them very much. I loved Kenneth with all my heart and the girls too. He was my little buddy and will always be in my heart. I’m so, so sorry for what I did … I just wish I could take it back but I can’t.”
VanAlstyne lived with her mother, Brenda VanAlstyne, who had custody of Kenneth and his two sisters, aged 4 and 5. A family friend, Brandon Rios, 18, lived in the trailer as did 10 cats and five dogs. Christine and Jayson White, the estranged parents of Kenneth and his sisters, had lost custody of the children.
On the day of the murder, Tiffany VanAlstyne, her mother, Rios and the three children went to a doctor’s office and Price Chopper to fill a prescription. At 12:45 p.m., they arrived home. Tiffany VanAlstyne and the children went inside. Brenda VanAlstyne and Rios left to drop off gifts at a school. Tiffany VanAlstyne has said she showed Kenneth flash cards to help him with schoolwork but became frustrated when he kept giving wrong answers. She blacked out and awoke with her hands on Kenneth’s neck with the child unresponsive. She locked the girls in a room and took Kenneth outside where she fell twice and the child bumped his head. She walked across the street and threw Kenneth over a guardrail into a drainage ditch, covering him with snow.
On Thursday, the judge told VanAlstyne she “tossed him over the guardrail like a garbage bag.”
The judge noted VanAlstyne heard signs of life from the boy but instead of helping Kenneth made up the story about the kidnapping.
“Perhaps, just perhaps, if you had come to your senses Kenneth might still be alive,” Herrick said.
Outside court, Christine White said Kenneth’s killer was “like a second mom” to him.
“I love my son more than anything in this world but I also love my niece and I know the kind of girl she was,” Christine White said. “People need to realize the kind of girl that (Tiffany) really was with my children — because she was good with them. This is a tragedy and it hurts that nobody understands truly the person she really was.”
Christine White and the children’s father have admitted to neglect in Albany County Family Court. Family Court Judge Gerard Maney also ruled Brenda VanAlstyne abused and neglected the children. The girls’ great-aunt, Michelle Sweet of Westerlo, asked to be granted “kinship foster care” custody of the girls, now 5 and 6. Such arrangements allow relatives of children to become their foster parents; it contains a more stringent certification process than in typical foster care cases.
Tiffany VanAlstyne, who turns 21 on Saturday, risked 25 years to life in prison if she were convicted at trial. Facing evidence that included her confession on videotape to Chief Deputy Michael Monteleone of the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, she pleaded guilty Nov. 24 in a plea agreement to second-degree depraved indifference murder of a child.
Assistant District Attorney Shannon Sarfoh told the judge Thursday that the crime was “unimaginable and unthinkable.”
VanAlstyne’s lawyer, Albany County Public Defender James Milstein, told the judge VanAlstyne cannot comprehend how she could have committed such a horrific crime.
The judge told VanAlstyne the case was a tragedy from every respect and every perspective, first and foremost because Kenneth White had his life taken from him.
“He’s gone because you violently killed and disposed of his body,” Herrick told the defendant, “and, I have to say, it’s a tragedy because your young life is now realistically gone as you will spend the majority of the rest of your life in state prison. And what comes out of state prison — if you come out of state prison — will be a shell of what you might have been. You have destroyed your future as well as Kenneth’s.”
“Kenneth in his death has received more love and respect than he ever had during his lifetime” due to the outpouring of support the child has received from residents of the Hilltowns, which includes a support group called Kenneth’s Army, several of whose members were in court.
“He will never be forgotten,” the judge said.
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