Kansas Department of Children and Families Under Scrutiny After Tragic Death of 5-Year-Old Zoey Felix
Kansas welfare officials are facing severe scrutiny following the tragic rape and death of 5-year-old Zoey Felix, whose family had been investigated multiple times within the year leading up to her demise.
Reports from ABC News, The Associated Press, and KCTV 5 highlight that the Kansas Department of Children and Families had been involved with Zoey’s family for over a year prior to her death, with numerous concerns raised about the living conditions in the household.
The family reportedly declined help from the agency on several occasions despite repeated visits and investigations. Over 13 months, the agency received nine reports regarding Zoey, with six of them prompting further investigation. Concerns ranged from poor home conditions to potential drug use in the presence of a child.
Instances of inadequate supervision were noted, including an incident where Zoey’s mother was arrested for driving under the influence while the child was in the vehicle. Her mother subsequently pleaded guilty to felony aggravated battery and driving under the influence.
Tragically, despite these alarming incidents and interventions, Zoey was killed on October 2. Mickel W. Cherry, a 25-year-old unhoused resident of Topeka, was swiftly apprehended and booked into the Shawnee County Jail in connection with her death less than a day later. Cherry is charged with first-degree murder, rape, and capital murder.
The tragic outcome has sparked outrage and raised questions about the handling of Zoey’s case by child welfare authorities. Various organizations and individuals have expressed their dismay over the failure to protect Zoey and have demanded accountability and changes in the child welfare system.
The Kansas Department of Children and Families has pledged to conduct a thorough review of Zoey’s case, with Secretary Laura Howard stating the agency’s commitment to revising or implementing policies and procedures to effectively support families and prevent similar tragedies in the future.
Governor Laura Kelly has also expressed her concern, calling Zoey Felix’s death an “unacceptable tragedy” and promising to push for legislative changes to expedite information release in cases like Zoey’s.
The exact cause of Zoey’s death is yet to be disclosed.