May 28, 2014 - January 1, 2015
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
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
point in time. We will know more once the
autopsy is complete and we have
and will be able to look at that more in
depth and tell a time frame of
the old injuries the child di have"
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
"Very serious harm
could result in releasing any information
prematurely. We are
in an active investigation"
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
hard on the staff any time you have a
homicide, but if it's a child,
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!
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: HickoryRecord.com
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.
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
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
was created on January 7, 2015
occurred in the state of North
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