Iowa Woman Sentenced to Probation for Toddler’s Overdose Death in Her Car

Amanda Roena Leonard–Hellum

Facebook Amanda Roena Leonard–Hellum and Maximus Xavier Leonard-Hallum.

An Iowa woman has been sentenced to two years probation after the toddler she was trying to adopt overdosed in the back of her car in June 2019.

Amanda Roena Leonard-Hellum, 39, was sentenced by the Polk County District Court judge June 4 for felony neglect of a dependent person, according to the Associated Press.

Leonard-Hellum was initially charged with child endangerment resulting in death, but through a plea agreement made with prosecutors in April, the charge was later reduced, the Des Moines Register reported.

Leonard-Hellum pleaded guilty to a lesser neglect charge.

According to authorities, Leonard-Hellum was driving from Waterloo to Des Moines to visit her boyfriend when the incident occurred.

The Associated Press reported that the toddler died after swallowing medication while riding in Leonard-Hellum’s car.

The child is identified in obituary records as Maximus Xavier Leonard-Hellum.

Here’s what you need to know:


She Wanted to Adopt the Child Who Died While in Her Care

Leonard-Hellum was “In the final stages of adopting the 2-year-old boy in June when he ingested her prescription medication while at the Park Winds apartment complex where she was visiting her boyfriend,” according to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier.

Des Moines police said Leonard-Hellum arrived at the apartment with Maximus and another child around 6 p.m. on June 26 when she discovered Maximus had taken the pills.

Authorities say Leonard-Hellum knew that Maximus had access to the medications and that she failed to seek immediate medical attention for the boy once she knew he had taken the pills.

Maximus was found dead in Leonard-Hellum’s boyfriend’s apartment by police the morning of June 27, 2019.

Toxicology reports showed the child had died of an overdose overnight caused by ingesting the various medications.


Deceased Toddler ‘Loved Cars, Listening to Music, Playing & Studying Insects’

Des Moines police said Leonard-Hellum’s partner had a 4-year-old son who was in the vehicle during her journey from Waterloo to Des Moines. As a precautionary measure, the boy was taken to hospital but was not found to have taken any medications or to be otherwise endangered.

Maximus was born in Marshalltown in March 2017, and he was placed with Amanda Leonard-Hellum days later pending adoption.

A passage in Maximus’ obituary read that he “enjoyed cars, listening to music, playing and studying all the different insects he could find, he was an adventurer and a kid who loved to be outside.”


Leonard-Hellum’s Social Media Accounts Are Filled With Photos of Children

Leonard-Hellum’s Facebook account is filled with photos of children. According to her Facebook page, she was a direct support professional worker at REM in Iowa, and she used to be a key holder at Dollar General.

Her profile picture from January 12 is of three children dressed in identical clothing, while there are other snapshots of infants and children celebrating birthdays.

Under relationship status, she lists “It’s Complicated.”

On Facebook, she put the phrase “beautiful disaster” over one profile picture. On March 20, she shared a graphic that read, “I prefer a ‘baby I’m busy right now but I’ll call you as soon as I get a chance’ rather than 8 hours with no text back & a sorry ass excuse.” Her page is filled with other laments about troubled relationships. She also wrote about the quarantine, quitting smoking and going to a concert.

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