Man charged with felony murder in 2-year-old boy’s death; Boy’s mother also faces charges

On Friday, Jan. 11, at about 9:15 p.m., Christiansburg Police and Christiansburg Rescue responded to call in reference to child who had fallen and was unresponsive at a residence at 430 Zinc Lane.

Upon arrival, Christiansburg Police Officer Aaron Lusk found 25-year-old male McKenzie Kyle Hellman seated on the living room floor next to an unresponsive child, later identified as two-year-old Steven Dale Meek II. At the time of the incident, Hellman resided at the residence on Zinc Lane with Steven and Steven’s mother, Kayla Thomas, 25. Hellman is Thomas’ boyfriend, and is not related to her son, Steven. Thomas was at work at the time of the call.

Shortly after Officer Lusk’s arrival, members of Christiansburg Rescue arrived, and, along with Officer Lusk, began to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on the child. CPR was performed for about 25 minutes before a pulse was detected. Steven was transported by ambulance to LewisGale Hospital Montgomery and later airlifted to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital.

While treating Steven, medical personnel, including a forensic nurse, discovered bruising and injuries that did not appear to be consistent with the preliminary information that the child had fallen from a toddler bed or crib. A criminal investigation began and ultimately revealed evidence indicating that Steven had been the victim of physical abuse. As a result, on Sunday, Jan. 13, McKenzie Hellman was arrested and charged with one count of felony child abuse.

Medical evaluation at Roanoke Memorial revealed minimal brain activity, and Steven was placed on life support in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. At about 7:40 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 13, Steven Meek II, died.

Preliminary forensic evidence indicates Steven died from extreme blunt force trauma to the head, but the medical examiner’s official report has not yet been returned. Christiansburg Police detectives discovered evidence indicating Steven was not only the victim of physical abuse that resulted in his injuries on Jan. 11, but also the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of both McKenzie Hellman and his mother, Kayla Thomas.

As a result of the evidence discovered in the investigation, on Thursday, Jan. 17, McKenzie Hellman was charged with the following felonies:

  • 2-33 – Felony murder (Felony murder is when the victim accidentally dies during the commission of another felony. The other felony in this case is child abuse. With regards to this charge, the investigation is continuing, and it is likely this charge will be upgraded as the investigation progresses.)
  • 2-67.3 – Aggravated sexual battery of a child less than 13 years of age (2 counts). (The second charge is for the battery of another victim whose name is not being released at this time.)
  • 2-374.3 – Solicitation of a minor less than 15 years of age for sexual purposes
  • 2-67.2/18.2-18 – Accessory to inanimate object sexual penetration of a person less than 13 years of age
  • 2-67.1/18.2-18 – Accessory to forcible sodomy by engaging in fellatio with a child less than 13 years of age
  • 2-374.1:1 – Possession of child pornography
  • 2-374.1:1/18.2-18 – Accessory before the fact to distribution of child pornography
  • 2-374.1:1/18.2-18 – Accessory before the fact to production of child pornography
  • 2-371.1 – Child abuse (*charged on Jan. 13)

Kayla Thomas was charged on Wednesday, Jan. 16, with the following felonies:

  • 2-67.1 – Forcible sodomy by engaging in fellatio against the victim’s will by force, threat or intimidation
  • 2-67.2 – Inanimate object penetration of a person less than 13 years of age
  • 2-374.1 – Production of child pornography involving a child less than 15 years of age
  • 2-374.1:1 – Possession and distribution of child pornography
  • 2-371.1 – Being a parent or guardian, committing a willful act so gross and wanton as to show a reckless disregard for human life – Child neglect

Both Hellman and Thomas are being held without bond at Western Virginia Regional Jail.

“We are fortunate to live in a community where violent crime is rare,” Christiansburg Police Chief Mark Sisson said. “However, that same good fortune makes it all the more shocking when things like this happen in our community. We can only imagine the pain felt by the loved ones of Steven Meek II, and our thoughts are with them during this difficult time.”

From Christiansburg Police Department