A community in Topeka, Kansas, is in sorrow following the heartbreaking tale of 5-year-old Zoey Felix, who was sexually assaulted and killed at a homeless camp. The incident has raised concerns about abuse, living circumstances, and the shortcomings of the child protection system. Zoey’s brief life was tragically ended by homelessness, instability, and claimed maltreatment. Neighbors and legislators are pressing the Department of Children and Families (DCF) for answers while investigators look into the circumstances surrounding her death.

The tumultuous home life of Zoey Felix began on Monday when she was discovered at a petrol station, suffering from life-threatening injuries. She was taken to the hospital, where she passed away. After being detained on Tuesday, the 25-year-old suspect, Mickel W. Cherry, was accused of killing and raping a victim who was younger than 14. According to neighbors, Zoey’s family was supposedly forced to live in a campsite about a mile away after being kicked out of their house, and as a result, their living circumstances got worse.

Reports of Community Efforts and Neglect: Zoey’s neighbors recounted her chaotic home life, where she frequently ran around unattended and skipped school. The neighborhood came together to provide for her needs for food, clothing, and bathing. Despite their best efforts, allegations of Zoey’s filthy living conditions—including the absence of running water—were sent to the Kansas Department for Children and Families. Neighbors claim that nothing was done about these reports, though.

Persistent Neglect Reports: For weeks before to Zoey’s death, Shaniqua Bradley and other community members informed the Department for Children and Families about the living conditions. They mentioned that Zoey’s house had feces in it and that there was no running water. Nevertheless, no action was taken as a result of the reports. Neighbors who were worried about Zoey’s welfare had been calling in frequent alarms, pointing out that she frequently arrived at their houses hungry and begged to remain.

A Tragic Finding: Zoey’s neighbors were unaware of her disappearance until they discovered her tragic end, which occurred two or three weeks ago. The community, which had come together to care for Zoey, is devastated by the news and is now experiencing sadness and resentment. A frequent visitor to the neighborhood, Sheryl Tyree said what many people felt when she said, “Everyone loved Zoey, except her parents.”

Demands for Accountability: State legislators in Kansas are challenging the system’s inability to safeguard Zoey despite several reports, and they are making demands for responses from the Department of Children and Families. Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau called the situation intolerable and emphasized the need for further action. Sen. Molly Baumgardner agreed, highlighting the importance of delving deeply into the reasons why Zoey was let down by the system.

System Failures and Request for Answers: According to court records, Zoey’s mother entered a guilty plea to aggravated battery inflicting bodily damage to a child born in 2018 with the use of a deadly weapon. Legislators, locals, and concerned individuals are calling for an exhaustive probe into the Department of Children and Families’ conduct and holding them accountable for Zoey’s untimely death.