In Topeka, Kansas, a 25-year-old homeless man, Mickel Cherry, was charged with the rape and killing of 5-year-old Zoey Felix. The tragic incident occurred in a gas station parking lot, where firefighters attempted to save the young girl’s life.
Cherry, who had previously lived at the same address as Zoey but was homeless at the time of the crime, faces charges of capital murder, first-degree murder, and rape. If convicted of capital murder, prosecutors have the option to seek the death penalty. Cherry is currently held on a $2 million bond in Topeka, with the date of his next court appearance undetermined.
Shawnee County District Attorney Michael Kagay announced that a decision regarding the death sentence will be made post the preliminary hearing, which will determine whether Cherry will stand trial. This procedure is standard in capital cases.
Although specific details about the cause of Zoey’s death remain undisclosed, a medical examination revealed injuries consistent with sexual assault. Former neighbors speculate that Zoey, her father, and Cherry had recently been living in a nearby wooded area close to the gas station. They suspect she was taken from this location to the gas station, though police have not confirmed these speculations.
Records show that Cherry does not have a criminal record in Kansas but has a misdemeanor criminal trespass conviction in Amarillo, Texas. Neighbors expressed concerns about the Felix family’s living conditions, noting the absence of electricity at the family home and making several calls to police and child welfare.
Topeka police confirmed three recent visits to Zoey’s home, addressing welfare checks and domestic disturbances. The city had initially sought to condemn the house, but plans changed when utilities were restored. By this time, neighbors reported that all family members, except the mother, had relocated.
A temporary memorial for Zoey, with flowers, balloons, and toys, has been set up near the gas station where her father worked. The heartbroken community continues to seek answers as the investigation progresses.
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