2-Year-Old Steven Meek II Endures Unimaginable Abuse and Torture by Mom and Boyfriend

Steven Dale Meek II
Steven Dale Meek II.
(Roanoke Times)

Around 9:00 PM on Friday, January 11, 2019, a 911 call summoned first responders to 430 Zinc Lane in Christiansburg, Virginia, which is the county seat of Montgomery County. The caller, 25-year-old McKenzie Hellman, requested medical assistance for his girlfriend’s two-year-old son, Steven Meek, who, the caller said, was unresponsive after a fall.

When police and EMTs arrived at the home, located in a neighborhood of trailer homes, they found McKenzie sitting on the living room floor next to the lifeless body of a tiny blond boy. McKenzie’s girlfriend and Steven’s mother, Kayla Thomas, was at work. Rescue personnel performed CPR on Steven for nearly 25 minutes before they finally got a pulse, at which point he was taken by ambulance to LewisGale Hospital Montgomery. Later, he was airlifted to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital and placed on life support.

Medical staff noted injuries that did not appear consistent with McKenzie’s account of the incident, which was that Steven had fallen off his bed. Investigators determined that the bed in question was Steven’s toddler bed and that the tallest height from which he could have fallen was 13 inches. The floor beneath was carpeted and padded with a play mat. There was no way the injuries the baby sustained could have been caused by such a fall. 

McKenzie Hellman’s booking photo.
(Montgomery County Jail)

Police launched a criminal investigation. On Sunday, January 13, authorities arrested McKenzie Kyle Hellman and charged him with one count of felony child abuse. He was held without bond at the Montgomery County Jail and later transferred to Western Virginia Regional Jail.

Tests showed that baby Steven had only minimal brain activity, but his family hoped and prayed as he remained unresponsive on life support all weekend. Ultimately, at 7:40 PM on January 13, Steven Dale Meek II died from his injuries. 

This story is about to get a hell of a lot darker. Warning: extremely awful details ahead.

The investigation into Steven’s death revealed a history of physical and sexual abuse, allegedly at the hands of not only his mother’s boyfriend, but his mother herself. On Wednesday, January 16, Christiansburg police arrested Steven’s mother, 25-year-old Kayla Nicole Thomas, on multiple charges, including:

  • Committing forcible sodomy by engaging in fellatio against the victim’s will by force, threat or intimidation
  • Inanimate object penetration of a person less than 13 years of age
  • Production of child pornography involving a child less than 15 years of age
  • 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
Kayl
Kayla Thomas’s booking photo.
(Western Virginia Regional Jail)

Kayla, who was pregnant at the time, was also locked up at Western Virginia Regional Jail and held without bond. She had the absolute gall to face a judge the following day and ask, in tears, if she could be released from jail to attend her son’s funeral. The judge told the crying woman in an orange jail jumpsuit that he could not make that decision until she had a bond hearing. 

Also on Thursday, January 17, McKenzie Hellman’s charges were steeply upgraded to include:

  • Murder while committing another felony (IE, child abuse)
  • Felony child abuse
  • Two counts of aggravated sexual battery of a child less than 13 years old
  • 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 fellatio 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

According to police, Steven was murdered, and his death was caused by “brutal blunt force trauma to the head.” At a press conference on the morning of Friday, January 18, Christiansburg Police Chief Mark Sisson said, “…the first responder to the call arrived to find an adult male, McKenzie Kyle Hellman, age 25, seated on the floor next to the unresponsive child.”

Christiansburg Vi
Chief Mark Sisson.
(Town of Christiansburg website)

“Our detectives continued with their investigation in the cause of Steven’s death and ultimately uncovered evidence that Steven was not only the victim of physical abuse that resulted in his injuries on the 11th, but also that he had been the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of both McKenzie Hellman and [Steven’s] mother, Kayla Thomas.”

Chief Sisson said that another child in the home was also believed to be a victim of sexual abuse. That child’s case was handed over to child protective services. Kayla did not have any other children; McKenzie had a son about the same age as Steven, who also lived part-time in the home.

Chief Sisson continued, “What happened to this innocent child can only be described as horrific, and we can only imagine the pain felt by the loved ones of Steven Meek, and our hearts and prayers go out to the families involved.”

Police expected the felony murder charge to be upgraded eventually, as felony murder is a charge that applies when a person dies accidentally during the commission of another felony, and they did not believe Steven’s death was an accident. Sisson said that his agency seized multiple items in connection with the allegations of pornography and sexual abuse against the couple. 

Steven, Michelle, and Steven Meeks II.
Little Steven with his father and stepmother, Steven and Michelle Meeks.
(Facebook)

An autopsy was conducted, but the report was not available until May, so prosecutors asked the judge to continue his preliminary hearing. Kayla waived her right to a preliminary hearing, and her five felony charges were sent to a grand jury. 

At a hearing in May of 2019, McKenzie’s attorney, Fred Kellerman, requested an evaluation be conducted of his client’s sanity at the time of the offense and his competency to stand trial, stating that McKenzie had been involuntarily committed several times to mental health facilities. The evaluation was completed in September, and in October, he was found competent to stand trial. 

On the afternoon of December 20, 2019, a pretrial hearing took place for McKenzie, at which cameras were not allowed in the courtroom. The state filed a motion to drop some of the charges against him, two counts of aggravated sexual battery, solicitation of a minor, and forcible sodomy as an accessory, which left him with a total of six charges:

  • Felony murder
  • Felony child abuse/neglect
  • Accessory before the fact to production of child pornography
  • Accessory before the fact to distribution of child pornography
  • Accessory to inanimate object sexual penetration with a child less than 13 years old
  • Possession of child pornography
Kayla Thomas and McKenzie Hellman.
(Facebook)

Multiple witnesses testified at the pretrial hearing, providing as-yet unheard details that were both shocking and sickening. First, prosecutors played the seven-minute 911 call McKenzie made at 9:13 PM on January 11, 2019. During the call, McKenzie told the dispatcher that his girlfriend’s son fell while jumping on his bed and became unresponsive, although, he said, the boy, who had a mark on his forehead, was still breathing. Before McKenzie hung up after first responders arrived, he told the dispatcher, “I’m so scared; his mom is at work,” and “I’m going to be sick.”

The first witness to testify at the hearing was Officer Timothy Lusk, who was the first responder to the 911 call. Officer Lusk said that according to McKenzie, his son and his girlfriend’s son, both two years old, had been playing in a bedroom when McKenzie heard a loud thump and found Steven unresponsive on the floor. According to Officer Lusk, Steven was partially dressed, and both of his eyes were bruised. He began CPR on the little boy before EMTs arrived and took over.

Steven Meek II
Steven chilling on his Mickey Mouse couch.
(Facebook)

Next on the stand was Christiansburg Police Investigator Nathan Delp, who arrived on scene at 10:10 PM the evening of Steven’s fatal injury. Investigator Delp testified that McKenzie told him the two boys were playing matchbox cars in the bedroom when Steven was injured, at which point, he carried the boy into the living room. McKenzie told Investigator Delp that he called Kayla Thomas, Steven’s mother, before dialing 911, which was verified through phone records; he called Kayla at 9:05 and 911 at 9:13.

Investigator Delp also testified about texts that were exchanged between Kayla and McKenzie just before 9:00 PM in which Kayla asks McKenzie why Steven is the way he is, saying, “I know it’s not all my fault.” 

McKenzie’s response was to text, “You need to stop worrying about his stupid ass.”

The investigator also testified about photos and messages found on the couple’s phones. The prosecution presented into evidence a photo found on McKenzie’s phone of a woman’s hand holding an object that was being used to penetrate a toddler in a sexual manner. Investigator Delp said he questioned McKenzie about the photo, and McKenzie, who confirmed the child was Steven and the woman’s hand in the picture belonged to Kayla Thomas. He said he was not in the room at the time and did not take the photo, but he admitted that he asked Kayla to take it and send it to him, because he wanted to see how the baby’s abuse would affect him and to “explore the extent of his sexual needs.” He told the investigator that when the photo was taken, Kayla and Steven were in the master bedroom of the trailer home while he was masturbating in their roommate’s bedroom at the other end of the home. 

Steven Meeks II
Steven getting a haircut.
(Facebook)

Investigator Delp also testified about a screenshot found on Kayla’s phone depicting several messages from McKenzie to Kayla in which McKenzie asked her to take videos of herself performing several specific sexual acts on her son. The messages requested 30-second videos of Kayla abusing Steven, including a request for her to take the object in the photo and “poke him with it.”

McKenzie’s final message in the screenshot stated that if Kayla abused her son in this way, “I should be able to touch you again,” but that if she did not allow a third person to join the couple’s sex life within a month, “there will be issues.”

Investigator Delp said that when he asked McKenzie why they chose Steven to abuse, McKenzie replied, “Because he was the one that was there that day.”

The next witness was Detective John Gunter, who interviewed McKenzie on January 13, the day Steven died from his injuries. Detective Gunter said McKenzie told him he heard the two little boys arguing and physically separated them, admitting that in the process of shoving the boys apart with backhanded blows, he hit his son in the chest, but hit Steven, who was shorter, hard in the head. He admitted that Steven fell backwards and hit his head on a dresser, and that when he left the bedroom, he heard Steven sniffling. 

McKenzie told Detective Gunter he was sorry for what he had done and that he’d never hit a child that hard before.

Baby Steven Meek II
Baby Steven.
(Facebook)

The last person on the stand was Assistant Chief Medical Examiner Amy Tharp, who detailed the injuries she found Steven had suffered:

  • 22 blunt force injuries to the head
  • 13 more injuries beneath the scalp
  • 4 injuries inside the mouth
  • 3 bruises inside the gum line
  • 10 injuries to the torso
  • Injuries to the right arm and left leg
  • Bruising on the anus and inside the rectum
  • Hemorrhaging inside the spinal cord
  • BIlateral retinal hemorrhages
  • Subdural hemorrhaging

Dr. Tharp was asked if those injuries could have resulted from a fall off a toddler bed, to which she responded, “If that kind of height could kill a child, none of us would have survived childhood.”

Judge Robert Viar certified McKenzie’s remaining charges and sent them on to the grand jury. In January of 2020, McKenzie Hellman was indicted on all six charges. Both defense attorney Fred Kellerman and Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Patrick Jensen opted for a jury trial over a bench trial, and his trial was scheduled for June of 2020. However, due to emergency orders issued by the Supreme Court of Virginia related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the trial was pushed back by necessity and is scheduled to take place on October 5 and 6, 2020 in Montgomery County Circuit Court. 

Mackenzie Hellman booking photo
McKenzie Hellman’s second booking photo.
(Western Virginia Regional Jail)

McKenzie is currently being held without bond at West Virginia Regional Jail. He is listed as 6’6” tall and weighing 295 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes. His marital status is listed as married; he may still be legally married to his son’s mother, Cheyenne Hellman. His next court date is the beginning of his trial on October 5.

In August of 2020, evidently taking a page out of her scumbag boyfriend’s playbook, Kayla Thomas’s attorneys requested an evaluation of her sanity at the time of the offense. This request was made during a hearing that was intended to be a plea hearing, but instead, the prosecution pushed for a jury trial, which was granted. Kayla’s three-day jury trial is scheduled to begin on January 20, 2021 in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

Newborn Steven Dale Meek II
Newborn Steven.
(Facebook)

Kayla is still being held at Western Virginia Regional Jail with no bond. Her booking # is 19-35035. Her marital status is listed as separated, and her statistics report she has blue eyes and blond or strawberry blond hair and that her height is 5’2” and her weight is 220 pounds. Her next court date is on August 26 at 9:00 AM.

Steven Dale Meek II was born at 4:38 AM on July 14, 2016 after over 28 hours of labor. He was 20.5 inches in length and weighed seven pounds, six ounces. At the time of Steven’s death, his parents, Kayla Thomas and Steven Meek, shared custody of him. Steven was married to a women named Michelle, who baby Steven called “Mama.”

Kayla’s stepsister, Alley, called little Steven Turtle. His Paw Paw, Kayla’s stepfather, CJ, called him Lil Bit. Other family members called him Little Man. Steven was adored by absolutely everyone who encountered him.

Mickey Mouse keychain
Michelle’s Mickey Mouse keychain.
(Facebook)

According to his stepmom, Michelle, Steven was “amazing, smart, and very loving.” She described Steven as “a bright, and beautiful little boy” who “changed my whole world.” She said, “He made life so fun and bright.” Although she is no longer with baby Steven’s dad, she said that will never change what her stepson meant to her, and she carries a Mickey Mouse keychain to remind her of him. “I miss everything about you… Your ‘I luh yous’ & ‘mama look’ while you grabbed me by the finger to show me your little play microwave. Always saying ‘press button.’ I miss absolutely EVERYTHING about you.”

Michelle also said, “He was comfortable with us. Not a moment went by without him saying ‘mama look!’ Or ‘mama watch mickey!’ I would have taken a bullet for this child. I wish I could have saved you baby boy. I hope somehow you knew that THIS mama loved you & always had your back. I carry your memories with me in my heart, always.”

Baby Steven’s favorite thing in the world was Mickey Mouse. For what should have been his third birthday on July 14, 2020, his maternal grandparents held a small, Mickey Mouse-themed party in his honor.

Steven’s funeral was held on Saturday, January 19, 2019 at the Bower Funeral Home-Chapel.

Below are some videos of Steven posted by various family members. He truly was a sweet, beautiful little boy. 

Rest in peace, Steven. There will be justice for you.

Click here for my ongoing coverage of Steven’s case.

  • Steven Dale Meek II with dad and stepmom
  • Steven Dale Meek II with dad and stepmom
  • Steven Dale Meek II with dad and stepmom
  • Steven Dale Meek II as an infant
  • Michelle and Steven Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II and stepmom
  • Steven Dale Meek II with stepmom and dad
  • Steven Dale Meek II with stepmom
  • CJ Chrisley with grandson Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek I and II
  • Steven Dale Meek I and II
  • Michelle and Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II and CJ Chrisley
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II with chips
  • Steven Dale Meek II and stepmom Michelle
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II and Melinda Chrisley
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II and CJ Chrisley
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Melinda Chrisley and Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II and Ronnie Thomas
  • Steven Dale Meek II and CJ Chrisley
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II fingerprint necklace
  • Steven Dale Meek II with Santa

Sources: 10 News, MyHighPlains.com, News 5 WCYB, WDBJ 7, The Southwest Times, The Roanoke Times, Bower Funeral Home website, Facebook, Western Virginia Regional Jail website

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