CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) — WHSV's sister station, WDBJ7, has learned there is another victim in a disturbing case of alleged child sexual abuse in southwest Virginia.
It began with an investigation into physical abuse of 2-year-old Steven Meek II, who later died. Christiansburg Police held a press conference Monday morning. Chief Mark Sisson left out what are likely going to be the most disturbing details of this case. But charges against a local mother and her boyfriend tell the story of trauma police believe young children may have endured in their household.
On the night of Jan. 11, paramedics responded to the home of McKenzie Hellman at 430 Zinc Lane, located just five minutes from the police station. There, they found a 2-year-old boy with extreme injuries to his head.
"When I say brutal blunt force trauma, that's exactly what I mean," Sisson said at Friday's press conference.
He spent Friday morning walking the press through what happened next.
He said medics performed CPR on the boy, Steven Meek II, for 25 minutes.
He was flown to Roanoke Memorial Hospital but died Sunday night.
Hellman told police the boy fell. Police suspected that was a lie. Doctors suspected something more.
"That he had been the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of both McKenzie Hellman and Kayla Thomas," said Sisson.
Meek's mother, Kayla Thomas, and her boyfriend, McKenzie Hellman, were arrested. Now, Hellman has been charged with Meek's murder.
And Thomas is charged with sexual abuse of her own son, including sodomy and production of child porn, among other charges.
Police said Friday there is another juvenile victim in this case. While they would not reveal the child's identity, they did confirm Hellman has a child of his own.
Sisson also confirmed he was told Kayla Thomas is currently pregnant.
He said his department has seized numerous electronics from the home where Hellman and Thomas lived. Officers are working with the Commonwealth's Attorney to sort through evidence. The Medical Examiner's office has yet to report their findings into Meek's autopsy. The department expect's Hellman's murder charge to be upgraded as the case continues.
Sisson said he is not sure how long the alleged abuse has taken place. But it's clear it has shaken the police department, disturbed by a case that will grow clearer in court.
"When that information comes out," Sisson said. "It's gonna shock the community."
As a result of the evidence discovered in the investigation, on Thursday, Jan. 17, McKenzie Hellman was charged with the following felonies:
· 18.2-33 - 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.)
· 18.2-67.3 - 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.)
· 18.2-374.3 - Solicitation of a minor less than 15 years of age for sexual purposes
· 18.2-67.2/18.2-18 - Accessory to inanimate object sexual penetration of a person less than 13 years of age
· 18.2-67.1/18.2-18 - Accessory to forcible sodomy by engaging in fellatio with a child less than 13 years of age
· 18.2-374.1:1 - Possession of child pornography
· 18.2-374.1:1/18.2-18 - Accessory before the fact to distribution of child pornography
· 18.2-374.1:1/18.2-18 - Accessory before the fact to production of child pornography
· 18.2-371.1 – Child abuse (*charged on Jan. 13)
Kayla Thomas was charged on Wednesday, Jan. 16, with the following felonies:
· 18.2-67.1 - Forcible sodomy by engaging in fellatio against the victim’s will by force, threat or intimidation
· 18.2-67.2 - Inanimate object penetration of a person less than 13 years of age
· 18.2-374.1 - Production of child pornography involving a child less than 15 years of age
· 18.2-374.1:1 - Possession and distribution of child pornography
· 18.2-371.1 - 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. They will appear in court in February.