Stepfather charged in Aveion Lewis case; 2-year-old missing boy's body still sought

By Amanda Codispoti

UPDATED JAN. 21: Roanoke police have temporarily postponed the search for Aveion Lewis due to the winter weather. If you have any information about the case, call 853-2212.

As the search for Aveion Lewis' body continued Wednesday, Roanoke police charged his stepfather in the toddler's disappearance.

Brandon Lockett, 24, is charged with felony child neglect, improper disposal of a human body and obstruction of justice.

Other charges may be considered by the grand jury in February, Roanoke Commonwealth's Attorney Donald Caldwell said.

Lockett's criminal record tracks back to Georgia, where court records show that, among other convictions, he was found guilty in 2006 of striking the mother of his child with a candleholder.

The search for Aveion began last Thursday, when Lockett told police that three men knocked him unconscious and abducted his 2-year-old stepson from their Jamestown Place duplex in Southeast Roanoke.

Police questioned the validity of that information, and on Tuesday, Lockett told authorities that the child was dead even before he was reported missing.

Police have not released any information on how the boy may have died, and his body had not been found as of Wednesday night.

Aveion M Lewis

Aveion Lewis

  • Age: 2
  • Call police with any information: 853-2212 or (800)822-4453
Brandon Lockett

Brandon Lockett

Previous coverage

Neither Caldwell nor Roanoke police Capt. Curtis Davis would explain why Lockett has been charged with child neglect, or whether that led to the toddler's death, because of the ongoing investigation.

"The charges are appropriate for what we have developed at this time," Davis said.

Lockett has been cooperating in some aspects of the investigation but not others, Davis said.

Lockett has a criminal record in Georgia, where he is still on probation for possession of cocaine, according to court documents.

He also has a history of violence.

Court records from Bibb County, Ga., show that in 2006 Lockett was accused of striking Janet Balkcom, the mother of his infant, with a candleholder.

He pleaded guilty to the family violence simple battery charge and was sentenced to one year of probation, according to court records. He was also required to attend a family violence intervention program and pay a fine.

About a month later, Lockett forced his way into Balkcom's home and fought with a man, according to court records. Balkcom called police from a neighbor's house.

Officers noticed a large amount of blood on the floor, and that a table lamp was broken. The victim fled from the house and wasn't seen again.

Lockett pleaded guilty to family violence criminal trespassing in that case.

He served 60 days in jail and then returned to probation.

In two separate instances in Roanoke last year, Lockett was pulled over for speeding and for driving on a learner's permit without a licensed driver. Police also cited him both times for not having a child restraint in the car, according to court records.

Lockett is being held at the Roanoke City Jail without bond.

Meanwhile, the search for Aveion's body continued Wednesday with more than 60 volunteers.

Search teams, including those on horses and with cadaver dogs, were sent out to the banks of the Roanoke River, wooded areas near the boy's Jamestown Place duplex and to an industrial area.

Volunteer Jeanne Kauffmann and her black Labrador retriever, Lakota, searched the muddy and sometimes steep banks of the river with a Roanoke police detective and a police cadet.

They looked under tarps, and through trash that littered the area. Sometimes Kauffmann directed Lakota to sniff out spots that looked suspicious, or go through tractor trailers parked in an industrial area.

At one point, she pointed Lakota to a dirty pillow, but the dog didn't signal that anything was there.

Detective Rich Cooper, who was searching with Kauffmann, said the ongoing investigation has been frustrating for police.

"We just want to find him," he said.

Freezing rain is expected today, which could hamper search efforts.

Davis said police would continue following up on leads even in inclement weather.

"Until we find him, we're going to continue working this case as much as we possibly can," Davis said.

He believes that there are people who have information, or who could get information, that could lead police to Aveion's body. He urged them to call police at 853-2212.

News researcher Belinda Harris and reporter Amy Leigh Womack of The (Macon, Ga.) Telegraph contributed to this report.



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