In Topeka, Kansas, a man has been apprehended in connection with the alleged sexual assault and murder of a 5-year-old girl, Zoey Felix. The suspect, identified as 25-year-old Mickel Wayne Cherry, was charged with first-degree murder and rape of a minor under 14, according to court records.
The tragic incident unfolded on Monday when Topeka police responded to a distress call at a local gas station. Fire crews were already on the scene, attempting to revive the young girl. Despite their efforts, Zoey was pronounced dead, and subsequent medical examination revealed signs of sexual assault.
Cherry, who was homeless at the time of his arrest, had previously shared an address with Zoey, confirmed Timothy Phelps, deputy director of the Shawnee County Department of Corrections. Neighbors reported that Zoey and her father had been living in a wooded area near the gas station with Cherry, just blocks away from the home of Zoey’s mother.
Prior to the incident, concerns about Zoey’s living conditions had been raised by neighbors, who reported that her home lacked electricity. The Topeka police confirmed they had visited the home three times in September, once for a welfare check and twice in response to domestic disturbance calls. Despite Zoey appearing to be in “good spirits,” a report was sent to child welfare and property officials, according to City spokeswoman Gretchen Spiker.
The shocking crime has left the Topeka community in disbelief, particularly as neighbors claim they had alerted child protection officials about the precarious situation at Zoey’s home. A makeshift memorial of flowers, balloons, and toys has been set up near the site of the incident.
Cherry is currently being held on a $2 million bond, with his next court appearance scheduled for December 21. Shawnee County District Attorney Michael Kagey has indicated that the charges against Cherry could potentially lead to the death penalty.