The shocking alleged rape and murder of a 5-year-old girl by a homeless man has stunned the Topeka, Kansas, community after neighbors said they had warned child protection officials about the dangerous situation at her home.
The Topeka Police Department said they were called to a disturbance at about 6 p.m. at a Dillons gas station on Monday. They said they found a 5-year-old girl with life-threatening injuries and rushed her to a hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.
She was identified as Zoey Felix.
Investigators said they were quickly able to identify a suspect in the crime and arrested 25-year-old Mickel Cherry the next morning at about 4:15 a.m. His address was listed as homeless, and he was charged with first-degree murder and rape after an investigation.
Neighbors said that Cherry had lived with Felix at her home before her mother kicked her out onto the street along with her teenage sister and father. They believe she was raped and murdered at a homeless encampment.
Police confirmed that Cherry had previously known the girl, but did not provide further details.
Kansas lawmakers are demanding answers from the Department for Children and Families, according to KSNT-TV.
“We really need a deep dive on why is the system failing,” said Republican state Sen. Molly Baumgardner.
Desiree Myles told WIBW-TV that residents of the neighborhood tried to look out for the girl because the home she lived in had no power and no running water. Myles said her mother often left her at the home alone, and neighbors had reported the situation to local authorities several times.
“Love the children, all the kids play with her,” said Myles. “They all looked out for everybody, looked out for Zoey. She was a Curious George with nowhere to go. Nowhere to go.”
Cherry remained behind bars on a $2 million bond.
“It hurts. It’s a tragedy,” says Myles. “You have a death, and then you have a tragedy. Hers is a tragedy.”
Here’s a local news video about the horrific incident:
Rape, murder of Topeka child leads to man’s early-morning arrestwww.youtube.com
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