Boyfriend charged with murder, he and mother sexually abused 2-year-old, police say

Police: boy had 'extreme blunt force trauma' and signs of ongoing abuse

By Tommy Lopez - Weekend Anchor / Reporter, Heather Butterworth - Digital Content Producer

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. - Update, 8:15 p.m.:

A Christiansburg mother and her boyfriend sexually abused her son and created child porn before the boyfriend killed the 2-year-old, according to investigators.

Christiansburg police revealed the new, disturbing details Friday at the department headquarters. They confirmed the identity of the toddler as Steven Meek II, gave insight into both his life and his death and upgraded the charges for the man accused of killing him.

Police said Friday that evidence shows the little boy had “extreme blunt force trauma to his head” with multiple injuries to his head and body. Police found the 2-year-old unresponsive when they arrived last Friday night at the Christiansburg home in which the mother, boyfriend and child all lived.

Medical reports show the toddler had minimal brain activity once he arrived at a hospital. He remained unresponsive and on life support over the weekend and died from his injuries Sunday evening.

“What happened to this innocent child can only be described as horrific,” Christiansburg police Chief Mark Sisson said.

Officers said Friday that Steven had suffered ongoing physical and sexual abuse. Investigators are still trying to figure out how long it had been going on.

The child’s mother, Kayla Thomas, 25, sexually abused her son and created child porn, according to investigators. The charges against her describe some of her actions in graphic detail. Those are listed at the bottom of this article.

Police announced Friday that they upgraded the charges for her boyfriend, McKenzie Hellman, 25, to include murder. Investigators said he sexually assaulted the toddler, abused him and killed him inside their home.

He also faces charges for helping carry out other sexual abuse and helping to make child porn. His charges are also listed in full below.

Both Thomas and Hellman are in jail without bond.

Investigators said there’s a second sexual abuse victim who’s also a child whom they’re not naming. They’ve referred that case to the Montgomery County Department of Social Services.

10 News asked the department if it had investigated Thomas or received any reports regarding her son. A lawyer with the department said privacy laws prevent it from giving out that kind of information.

Hellman is not related to the boy but has a child of his own. On Friday, police said they believe Thomas is pregnant.

Police wouldn’t comment on some of the specifics related to evidence in the case, including how they believe Hellman killed the toddler, but Sisson said those details will come out in court proceedings.

“It’s going to shock the community,” he said. “It’s a tragic event. When I say brutal, blunt force trauma, that’s exactly what I mean.”

Investigators said they have been in contact with the boy’s biological father, who they said lives in the area.

Police don’t expect to bring charges against anyone else in this case. They are awaiting an autopsy report.

Police don’t believe they have had any history with either Hellman or Thomas. They report that Thomas had joint custody of Steven with the boy’s father. Officers believe the boy spent significant time at his mother’s house.

Sisson said Friday that this case has been as difficult to investigate as any child abuse case the department has worked. He calls it a tragedy and says it’s rocking the community, adding that loved ones of the little boy are struggling with the loss.

“We can only imagine the pain felt by the loved ones of Steven Meek,” Sisson said.

Many people have reacted with shock on the 10 News Facebook page.

Memorial services will be held Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Bower Funeral Home-Chapel in Pulaski. The family will receive friends Saturday from 2 p.m. until service time.

Police described a frantic scene last Friday night when officers and first responders arrived at the home on Zinc Lane, a neighborhood of trailer homes off Roanoke Street.

They said Friday that Hellman was the one who called 911 around 9 p.m. that night and he was alone with Steven and another child at the time.

When officers and emergency crews got there, they found Hellman sitting on the living room floor next to the boy. Thomas was at work at the time, police said.

Emergency personnel administered CPR on the toddler for 25 minutes before they were able to find a pulse. They took Steven to LewisGale Hospital Montgomery and then later flew him to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. 

Hellman reported that the boy had fallen off a toddler bed or crib, but medical staff found bruises and other injuries that were not consistent with a fall. That began a criminal investigation, which revealed evidence that Steven had been physically abused.

While treating the child, medical staff found bruising and injuries that were not consistent with the report that the child had fallen from a toddler bed or crib. A criminal investigation revealed evidence that Steven had been physically abused. 

Officers arrested Hellman Sunday and initially charged him with felony child abuse. They upgraded his charges Thursday to the following:

-Murder while committing another felony (in this case, child abuse)
-Felony child abuse
-Aggravated sexual battery of a child less than 13 years old (2 counts)
-Solicitation of a minor less than 15 years old for sexual purposes
-Accessory to inanimate object sexual penetration with a child less than 13 years old
-Accessory to forcible sodomy by engaging in fellation with a child less than 13 years old
-Possession of child pornography
-Accessory before the fact to production of child pornography
-Accessory before the fact to distribution of child pornography

Police charged Thomas Wednesday. She appeared before a judge Thursday and asked if she could be let out of jail to attend her son's funeral. The judge told her she would need to have a bond hearing before he could make that decision.

Her charges are:

-Forcible sodomy by engaging in fellatio against the victim's will by force, threat or intimidation
-Inanimate object penetration of a child less than 13 years old
-Production of child pornography involving a child less than 15 years old
-Possession and distribution of child pornography
-Being a parent or guardian, committing a willful act so gross and wanton as to show a reckless disregard for human life -- child neglect

ORIGINAL STORY:

Christiansburg police are set to announce charges and provide additional information in relation to the death of a 2-year-old boy last weekend.

Kayla Nicole Thomas, the boy's mother, has already been arrested and charged with making child porn and sexually assaulting children.

Her live-in boyfriend, McKenzie Hellman, was arrested Monday and charged in connection to the child's death.

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