Waco police charged a man with murder Tuesday in the April 2016 death of AT&T service technician Kenneth Wayne Cleveland.

Zachary Lamone McKee, 28, is charged in the death of Cleveland, 61, of Hewitt, whose body was found in an alley near the 1400 block of Barron Avenue on April 22, 2016. Police initially believed Cleveland had been electrocuted, but further investigation, including an autopsy, revealed Cleveland suffered “homicidal” injuries, including at least 13 stab wounds.

An arrest warrant was issued for Zachery Lamone McKee, 28, of Waco, and he was booked into McLennan County Jail on Tuesday, Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said. McKee had been in custody on a misdemeanor criminal mischief charge since July 31 in Falls County, Falls County Sheriff Ricky Scaman said.

Scaman said McKee was being held in a mental health facility on the criminal mischief warrant.

“We have had so many questions,” said Amber Cleveland-Hicks, the youngest of Cleveland’s seven daughters. “Right now, we are trying to process it all. We are ecstatic that (McKee) is off the street and he can’t do it to somebody else, but it doesn’t bring our dad back.”

According to an arrest affidavit, McKee was identified “early in this investigation as a suspect” after Cleveland’s body was found burned and with fatal injuries near Barron Avenue and Novelty Street. McKee later confessed to being responsible for Cleveland’s death and “was able to corroborate” information known to police, the affidavit states.

An autopsy revealed details of the death, including “chop wounds,” caused by a heavy weapon or instrument with at least one sharp cutting edge, to Cleveland’s head and face.

Police have not publicly offered a motive or details about what led them to McKee in their investigation.

Cleveland-Hicks said her family has no previous history with McKee and does not know why her father was targeted. She said her family is seeking privacy while processing news of McKee’s arrest.

“I think that everyone’s collective thought process is that we now have closure, but really it’s another door opening,” she said. “It’s like a stab wound all over again. It hurts just like it did on the first day, but there are tears of relief and joy that they have him. I don’t think closure is something that anyone who has experienced a murder investigation will ever find.”

McKee has a history of charges from 2008 and 2016, including misdemeanor assault, misdemeanor indecent exposure, a second-degree felony charge of manufacturing or delivery of a controlled substance and a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest.

After McKee’s arrest, AT&T released a statement about Cleveland, who was an employee with the company for 43 years.

“We are very thankful to hear this news. Ken was a dedicated employee for over four decades, and was widely admired by his co-workers,” according to the statement. “His senseless, tragic death was deeply felt here at AT&T, and we continue to offer our deepest condolences to his family, friends and co-workers.

“The safety and welfare of our employees is of paramount concern to us. We have been committed to this investigation and we offered a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.”

Cleveland’s family filed a civil lawsuit against AT&T in July in Dallas County, alleging the company is aware of a history of violence against its employees and has failed to act accordingly.

The family’s Waco attorney, Rick Bostwick, said the lawsuit remains pending with no trial date set.

Kristin Hoppa has been covering public safety and breaking news for the Tribune-Herald since January 2016. She worked in Northwest Missouri covering crime-related issues before her move to Central Texas. She is a University of Kansas graduate.

Recommended for you