According to reports, a 5-year-old Kansas girl was ra*ped and mu*rdered at a homeless camp in the woods after her mother allegedly kicked her and other family members out of their home.
Monday, according to the Topeka Police Department, Zoey Felix was discovered with life-threatening wounds at a gas station. She was transported to a hospital, where she passed away.
Mickel W. Cherry, 25, was arrested and charged with mu*rder and ra*pe of a victim younger than 14 on Tuesday.
The bond for his release was $2 million.
Neighbors reported that the suspect once shared a home with Zoey, her father, and her sister.
According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, the neighbors claim the child’s mother kicked them all out about two weeks ago, forcing them to live at a campsite about a mile away.
According to her neighbors, Zoey’s home life was turbulent. They frequently observed the young girl running around unsupervised.
Neighbors reported that her community collaborated to help keep her clean, clothed, and fed.
They reported that she was not in school.
Sharon Williams, a neighbor, told KSNT that Zoey did not deserve to be in the woods.
“This exact location is her home. One, two, three, four, and five individuals would do anything for her.”
Shaniqua Bradley, a neighbor, stated that while roaming the neighborhood, Zoey would frequently stop by her house for a snack.
It was constantly ‘Can I stay? Can I remain?'” Bradley stated regarding the young girl.
“Normally when a kid is persistent about staying like that, something’s going on at home.”
Bradley and other neighbors stated that they made multiple reports to the Kansas Department for Children and Families in the weeks preceding Zoey’s death, citing the deplorable living conditions in her home, which lacked running water and was filled with feces.
But nothing was ever done, they said.
“I just reported the neglect that was going on,” Williams said.
“She’s always dirty, no food unless some of us fed her, but they didn’t obviously take it serious.”
According to the Capital-Journal, Zoey’s neighbors realized she was missing two or three weeks ago.
They were devastated to discover that she had been mur*dered.
Sheryl Tyree, who does not live in the neighborhood but spends a lot of time there, stated, “Everyone on the block took care of Zoey.”
“Everyone except her parents loved Zoey.”
The Kansas legislature is demanding answers from the Kansas Department of Children and Families.
Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau stated, “We need to do more.”
“This is, in fact, unacceptable.”
Sen. Molly Baumgardner stated, “We need a comprehensive analysis of the system’s failure.”
According to court documents reviewed by the Capital-Journal, Zoey’s mother pleaded guilty in March to aggravated battery with a deadly weapon against a 2018-born child.
Initials “Z.F.” were used to identify the child.
The Kansas Open Records Act requires DCF to release a summary of any previous reports of abuse reviewed by the agency within seven business days if a child dies as a result of abuse or neglect, according to the paper.
Chief of Police of Topeka, Bryan Wheeles, would not confirm whether authorities had previously made contact with the suspect’s family or their relationship to him.