TOPEKA, KS – A homeless man, Mickel Cherry, 25, was indicted on Thursday for the murder and sexual assault of a 5-year-old girl, Zoey Felix, in Topeka, Kansas. Cherry is facing charges of capital murder, first-degree murder, and rape in relation to the tragic incident that occurred on Monday. Cherry is currently being held in Topeka with bail set at $2 million, and his next court date is pending.
Mark Manna, a representative from the Kansas Death Penalty Defense Unit, confirmed that they would be providing legal representation for Cherry, but declined to provide additional comments. Cherry’s family has not responded to attempts for communication. The capital murder charge lodged against Cherry could potentially lead to a death penalty sentence, but this has not been confirmed by Shawnee County prosecutor Michael Kagay.
In a press release, Kagay stated that Topeka police were dispatched to a local gas station where emergency crews were trying to save Zoey’s life. Unfortunately, Zoey was later declared deceased at the hospital. The autopsy report revealed injuries consistent with sexual assault.
The authorities have not disclosed specific details about the cause of Zoey’s death. Timothy Phelps, the deputy director of the Shawnee County Department of Corrections, confirmed that Cherry and Zoey had previously lived at the same address, but Cherry was homeless at the time of his arrest.
Cherry does not have a criminal history in Kansas, but he has a misdemeanor conviction for criminal trespass in Amarillo, Texas. A heartfelt memorial consisting of flowers, balloons, signs, and toys has been erected in Topeka in memory of Zoey Felix.
Neighbors had previously expressed concerns about the absence of electricity in Zoey’s family home and had contacted the police and child welfare services. The Topeka police confirmed that they had responded to three calls to the home in September, one for a welfare check due to the lack of electricity, and two others for domestic disturbances.
Gretchen Spiker, a city spokeswoman, stated that during the initial call, the officers confirmed the absence of electricity and were told that Zoey was not residing there. The city had initially planned to condemn the house but reversed the decision when the utilities were reconnected.
A tent and a tarp were discovered in the woods near the home, leading to speculation by neighbors that Zoey, Cherry, and Zoey’s father might have been living there. However, the police have not confirmed this.