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Zellers denied parole for death of child

Charles Zellers will remain in prison on first degree murder and forcible sodomy charges in the 1993 death of 19-month-old Michael Stephens.

The parole board denied Zellers’ recent parole request Tuesday, May 26. He was given a three-year deferral and will not be up for parole again until the second quarter of 2023, according to Lisa Bowes, victim services coordinator of the Virginia Parole Board.

Zellers’ parole was strongly opposed by Lunenburg County Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Clement who sent a letter to the parole board calling the crime the worst he has seen.

“During my career as the Commonwealth’s Attorney of Lunenburg County for 39 years, this is without a doubt the most heinous crime I ever prosecuted,” Clement’s letter read.

The letter said Zellers is still not expressing responsibility or remorse for the crime. Zellers still maintains his innocence.

Clement’s letter quoted the medical examiner who listed the cause of death of the young child to be suffocation or smothering. The report said the force used to smother Stephens was so great that his teeth tore into the soft tissue inside his mouth and even to the point of puncturing a hole through his lip at the corner of his mouth. It also said bruises of various ages covered the child’s torso.

“This is not a person we want in our community. Please do not release him,” Clement’s letter to the parole board stated.