Yesterday saw whipsaw reversals in the case of Meghan McKeon, a Steamboat Springs mom whose three-year-old son, Austin Davis, died under highly suspicious circumstances. First, McKeon was cleared of three misdemeanor accusations against her, to the horror of at least one court observer. But the dismissal was swiftly followed by McKeon's arrest on a more serious charge: child abuse resulting in death.
Continue for the sad story, including photos and details about Austin's dad, a convicted sex offender.
McKeon's Facebook page remains online at this writing. It features plenty of self-portraits like this one....
...as well as several shots of Austin, including this sweet image:
Also part of the gallery is this family portrait of McKeon, Austin and his dad, Tyler Davis:
Davis, though, is better known for this image:
Why was the last pic taken? The answers are provided by Steamboat Today, the newspaper that's done the best and most thorough coverage on related incidents to date.
This past summer, Davis, who reportedly had moved to Steamboat not long before, was arrested for allegedly going up to multiple underage teen girls and offering them money for sex. The Steamboat Springs Police Department said a photo of Davis taken by a girl approached on a city bus helped them track him down.
By the following March, Davis wasn't the only one in trouble with the law.
A March 28 Steamboat Today article cites McKeon's arrest affidavit, in which she's quoted as initially telling police that she left Austin with a babysitter at 1:45 p.m. the previous Wednesday, March 26, before heading to work at an area City Market.
At some point, though, her account changed. Instead of putting him in the care of a sitter, she reportedly acknowledged leaving him at home alone after putting out some food and starting a movie. She had supposedly done something similar at least twenty times in the past.
Reminder: Austin was three.
After her shift, McKeon is said to have spent the night at the home of an unnamed boyfriend before heading home the following morning to find Austin lying face up; his eyes were open but he was immobile and showing no signs of life.
McKeon responded by calling Davis, then in the Routt County Jail, before heading to a local medical center. Other relatives eventually called 911 on her behalf, but it was too late.
Investigators say McKeon's home, described as a cabin at a local campground, was in chaos, with human waste and partially eaten food tossed around and razors left in potential reach of a curious toddler.
Such evidence led the Routt County District Attorney's Office to accuse McKeon of three misdemeanors related to child abuse and reckless endangerment, and she was ready to plead guilty to them at court yesterday. But then, a switch: The charges were dismissed.
When the prosecutors made this move, Charity O'Konski, Davis's mom, reportedly reacted with anger, shouting, "She killed a baby." But McKeon wasn't set free. Instead, she was arrested again, this time on suspicion of child abuse resulting in death, a felony.
The story is far from over. For one thing, the local coroner's office remains unclear exactly why Austin died. But for now, McKeon is behind bars prior to another court appearance slated for this afternoon. Her bond: $250,000.
Here's a larger look at McKeon's mug shot.
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Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our Colorado Crimes archive circa February 4: "Heather Jensen guilty of child abuse: Two kids died in running car while she had sex nearby."