Felix died on Monday, Oct. 2, 2023, after Topeka police said she was raped. Mickel Cherry, 25, is charged with capital murder for her death.
The summary substantiates a sexual abuse case that was assigned to the agency following Felix’s death. It also shows the 5-year-old’s family repeatedly declined state-offered services.
According to DCF’s summary, the agency received nine reports involving the child; six were assigned for further investigation. The three reports not assigned were duplicative or were combined under an open case.
Sept. 8, 2022
- DCF received a report with allegations including poor conditions in the home and possible drug use in the presence of a child.
- The case was assigned to Family in Need of Assessment (FINA) – Unable to Provide Care.
- During the investigation, the mother agreed to a drug screen, which came back negative.
- DCF learned that the mother was also working with court services.
- DCF offered services to the family, but the family declined.
- The case was closed.
Nov. 8, 2022
- DCF received a report about an unsupervised child.
- The case was assigned for investigation due to Lack of Supervision.
- Following an investigation, the case was unsubstantiated.
- DCF offered services, and again, they were declined.
Nov. 18, 2022
- DCF received a report that the mother had been arrested for Driving Under the Influence and that the child was unrestrained in the front seat.
- The child was placed in Police Protective Custody (PPC).
- Law enforcement located the father the same evening of the incident and placed the child with him.
- After receiving the report, DCF interviewed the father and child to assess safety.
- No safety concerns were identified.
- The report was substantiated by a Lack of Supervision finding against the mother.
May 18, 2023
- DCF received a report that there were no operating utilities in the home and that the home was in generally poor condition.
- The case was assigned for investigation due to Physical Neglect.
- The Child Protective Service (CPS) investigation found the home to be livable, utilities operational, and food in the home.
- There were no signs of drugs in the home.
- The case was unsubstantiated.
- DCF offered Family Preservation services to the family. They were declined.
Aug. 29, 2023
- DCF received a report that there were no utilities and drug use in the home.
- CPS investigators attempted to contact the family a total of seven times over the next month but were unsuccessful. They visited the home on Sept. 6, Sept. 8, Sept. 12, Sept. 14, and again on Sept. 25.
- A letter was sent to the family on Sept. 20.
- There was also an attempt to contact the family via phone on Sept. 21, but the number was disconnected.
- The case remains open.
Oct. 2, 2023
- DCF was notified of her death.
- As a result, DCF assigned a case for Physical and Sexual Abuse in the death of Zoey.
- The Sexual Abuse case was substantiated.
- The Physical Abuse case finding is pending investigation.
“Zoey Felix’s death was an unacceptable tragedy. My administration proposed legislation in 2021 to allow the Department for Children and Families to expedite the release of information in cases like Zoey’s,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “We will urge the Legislature to get that bill to my desk early in the next legislative session.”
“My agency is fully committed to a thorough review of this case,” DCF Secretary Laura Howard said. “We will take every step necessary to determine if there are policies and procedures that can be revised or added to effectively support families and help prevent another case like this from happening again.”
If you are aware of a family who may need support, there are resources in the community that can help. Anyone in the state can use 1-800-CHILDREN. By calling (800-332-6378) or going to 1800childrenks.org, families can get connected to necessary services and support in their own community. The service is operated by the Kansas Children’s Service League, which is committed to keeping the site up-to-date.
If you suspect a child may be the victim of abuse or neglect, you are urged to call the Kansas Protection Report Center at 1-800-922-5330.