Chekeem Jamar Hickman Jr.
May 28, 2014 - January 1, 2015

Chekeem Jamar Hickman Jr. became famous, the day he died, as the first child to die of child abuse in the United States in the year 2015. Instead of a nice trophy to show his accomplishment, Chekeem, a seven month old baby, will get a brand new headstone. Chekeem passed away after a 911 call came in at about 7:20 a.m. where a child was said to be unresponsive. Tyler Leroy Linebarger, the 23 year old boyfriend of Amber Leigh Estep, said that Chekeem had been asleep on the couch when he went to take a shower, when he found Chekeem, he was on the floor, he supposedly picked up the baby and put him back on the couch and then left the room again. Tyler said he came back to the room and found Chekeem blue and he was not breathing so he went to a neighbors home to call 911.

Amber told Police that she had left the apartment just before 6:00 a.m. and the Chekeem had been fine before she went to work. Chekeem was taken to Catawba Valley Medical Center and later transferred to Children's Hospital in Charlotte, surgery was done and it was found that Chekeem had severe internal injuries caused by horrific trauma. Chekeem had many bruises, broken ribs and other injuries in various stages of healing, which indicates that the abuse had been taking place over a period of time, though it was not known how long that time had been.

Police went to interview Tyler and his mother said she would find him and bring him to the Police Station. When he finally showed up, Tyler refused to speak with a Lawyer. Tyler was arrested and charged with felony child abuse inflicting serious injury and was taken to jail. When Chekeem died, charges against Tyler were upgraded to murder and he was given a bond of $175,000..

After the autopsy revealed the injuries that Chekeem had a statement was released:

"We do know what some of the injuries are. We're not in a position to release that
at this point in time. We will know more once the autopsy is complete and we have
autopsy results and will be able to look at that more in depth and tell a time frame of
some of the old injuries the child di have"
Maj. Tim Hayes - Newton Police Department

Chekeem has and older sister, she is two years old and it wasn't immediately clear if she had any signs of abuse and it was reported that Amber was cooperating with Police. When the autopsy was finished, the results were not being released:

"Very serious harm could result in releasing any information prematurely. We are
still involved in an active investigation"
Newton Police Department

Friends and strangers were reaching out to support Amber and the Newton Police Department as well as the Catawba County Department of Social Services were investigating the death of Chekeem:

"It's especially hard on the staff any time you have a homicide, but if it's a child,
especially for those officers that have children, it's extremely difficult. And being
the holidays, when you're supposed to be around family and loved ones, it seems
to compound the issues"
Major Tim Hayes

I of course have to believe that Amber knew something was not right. A child with broken ribs, having injuries in various stages of healing, how can a mother NOT hear her baby crying, not see bruises and other injuries and NOT know that something is seriously wrong with her child? I guess time will tell!


Hickman Jr., Chekeem

Chekeem Hickman Jr. NEWTON Chekeem Hickman Jr., 7 months old, died Thursday, Jan., 2015 at Carolina Medical Center Charlotte-Main.

He was born May 28, 2014 in Catawba County, to Chekeem Hickman Sr. and Amber L. Estep.

The funeral service will be held Tuesday, Jan. 6, at 2 p.m. at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Claremont with the Rev. Joe Shuford Pastor. Burial will be in the church cemetery.

The family will receive friends from 1 to 2 p.m. at the church. Arrangements by Tom Rawls Funeral Director Lic., Newton.

Obituary found here:

Thank you goes Cherry for sending me this story. Such a sad way to ring in the new year. I am in awe at the outpouring of people who continue to send the stories so that the children can be memorialized on my site. I can't thank any of you enough.

UPDATE: November 30, 2021

In March of 2019, Tyler Linegarger, who was 26 years old at the time, having plead guilty to second-degree manslaughter, was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison. Superior Court Judge Nathaniel J. Poovey added additional 12 year sentence for two felony charges of child abuse.

I want to thank Amy for this update. I can't thank everyone enough for helping me with this site, keeping stories updating and sending me the names of children who need their story to be told.

This page was created on January 7, 2015
Death occurred in the state of North Carolina

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