In a devastating incident that has shaken the community, a 5-year-old girl named Zoey Felix was tragically raped and murdered at a homeless camp in the woods. The incident unfolded after Zoey’s mother allegedly forced her and other family members out of their house, leaving them homeless and vulnerable. This heartbreaking event has sparked outrage and demands for justice in Topeka, Kansas.
A Life Cut Short
According to the Topeka Police Department, Zoey was discovered at a nearby gas station with life-threatening injuries. She was immediately rushed to the hospital but, tragically, succumbed to her injuries and passed away. The loss of such a young life is truly heartbreaking, leaving the community mourning and searching for answers.
The Arrest and Charges
Mickel W. Cherry, a 25-year-old man, was arrested the day after the incident and charged with the murder and rape of a victim under the age of 14. Local news outlet WBIW reported the arrest, revealing the shocking details of the heinous crimes. Currently, Cherry is being held on a $2 million bond, awaiting trial.
Troubled Living Conditions
Neighbors shed light on the circumstances leading up to the horrific incident. Zoey’s family, including her father and sister, had been residing in the same house as the suspect. However, the child’s mother reportedly evicted them all from the house, leaving them with no choice but to find shelter at a nearby campsite in the woods, approximately one mile away.
Reports from the Topeka Capital Journal indicate that the family endured dire living conditions at the campsite, lacking access to running water and surrounded by unsanitary surroundings. The tragic consequences of this unfortunate situation highlight the urgent need for better support systems for families facing homelessness and dire living conditions.
Concerned Neighbors and Neglected Warnings
Neighbours expressed deep concern for Zoey, revealing glimpses into her troubled home life. Many witnessed the young girl wandering unsupervised and took it upon themselves to offer assistance, providing her with food, clothing, and basic necessities. However, the fact that Zoey did not attend school raised further alarms about her well-being.
Sharon Williams, a caring neighbor, emphasized that Zoey deserved a safe and stable home environment. She shared her disappointment, stating, “Zoey did not deserve to be in anybody’s woods. This is her home right here. She has people who care about her.” Another neighbor, Shaniqua Bradley, revealed that Zoey sought refuge at her house frequently, indicating the struggles she faced at home.
Neighbors attempted to intervene by reporting the deplorable living conditions to the Kansas Department for Children and Families multiple times in the weeks leading up to Zoey’s tragic death. They highlighted the absence of running water and unsanitary living quarters, filled with feces. Despite their repeated efforts to raise concerns, no action was taken, leaving Zoey’s well-being compromised.
Demanding Accountability and Change
According to KSNT, distraught by the loss of Zoey, neighbors are expressing their love for the young girl and demanding justice. Sheryl Tyree, a member of the community, commented, “Everybody on the block took care of Zoey. Everybody loved Zoey, except her parents.” The heartbreaking tragedy has prompted Kansas state lawmakers to demand answers from the Department of Children and Families. Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau emphasized the need for immediate action, stating, “We have to do more. This is unacceptable.” Senator Molly Baumgardner mirrored these sentiments, calling for a thorough investigation into the system’s failures.
Addressing Systemic Flaws
Court documents reviewed by the Capital-Journal revealed a troubling history, showing that Zoey’s mother had previously pleaded guilty to aggravated battery causing bodily harm with a deadly weapon to another child born in 2018, identified only by the initials “Z.F.” This information raises questions about the system’s oversight and whether proper intervention could have prevented Zoey’s tragic fate.
Topeka Police Chief Bryan Wheeles refrained from confirming if authorities had any prior contact with the family or their relationship with the suspect. As the investigation unfolds, the community hopes for transparency, accountability, and lasting change to prevent such heartbreaking tragedies in the future.
The loss of Zoey Felix has left Topeka, Kansas, reeling from the unimaginable tragedy that unfolded in their community. This heartbreaking incident serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for improved support systems for families facing homelessness and dire living conditions. It is our collective responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of vulnerable children like Zoey, striving for a society where such devastating occurrences are prevented and justice is served. Let us remember her name and work towards a better future for every child.