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Kansas homeless man charged with murder and rape of 5-year-old girl in Topeka


  • In Topeka, Kansas, a tragic and horrifying incident unfolded as a 25-year-old homeless man, Mickel Cherry, was charged with murder and rape in connection with the death of a 5-year-old girl named Zoey Felix.
  • Mickel Cherry is currently being held in a Topeka jail on a $2 million bond, and his next court appearance has yet to be scheduled.
  • Neighbors have raised suspicions that Zoey, Cherry, and Zoey’s father may have been residing there, although the police have not officially verified this information.

A 25-year-old homeless man was charged Thursday with murder and rape in the killing of a 5-year-old girl in Topeka, Kansas.

Mickel Cherry faces one count each of capital murder, first-degree murder and rape in the death of Zoey Felix on Monday. He was jailed in Topeka on a $2 million bond and his next court appearance has not yet been determined.

Mark Manna, of the Kansas Death Penalty Defense Unit, said his office would represent Cherry, but that he had no further comment. Cherry’s family didn’t respond to messages.

A capital murder charge would allow prosecutors to seek the death penally, but Shawnee County prosecutor Michael Kagay didn’t respond to an email from The Associated Press asking about his plans.

Kagay said in a news release that Topeka police rushed to a gas station where fire crews were attempting to save Zoey’s life. She was later pronounced dead. A medical examination at the hospital revealed injuries consistent with sexual assault.

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Authorities have released no details about the cause of Zoey’s death.

Timothy Phelps, deputy director of the Shawnee County Department of Corrections, confirmed that Cherry used to live at the same address as Zoey, but at the time of his arrest, Cherry was homeless.

Cherry has no criminal record in Kansas but he does have a misdemeanor criminal trespass conviction in Amarillo, Texas.

A touching memorial of flowers, balloons, heartfelt signs, and toys lines the sidewalk in tribute to Zoey Felix, a beloved 5-year-old girl, on Oct. 5, 2023, in Topeka, Kansas. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

Neighbors said they had raised concerns that Zoey’s family home had no electricity and that they called the police and child welfare.

Topeka police confirmed Thursday that they made three calls to the home in September: one on Sept. 5 for a welfare check following a report that the home had no electricity; and two domestic disturbance calls in the afternoon and evening of Sept. 19, a little more than an hour apart. Police did not provide details about those two calls.

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City spokeswoman Gretchen Spiker said in an email that during the first call officers confirmed there was no electricity and that they were told the child wasn’t staying there. Police met with the child, saw she was in “good spirits” but still made a report to child welfare and property officials, Spiker said.

The city moved to condemn the house but backed off when the utilities were turned back on. Neighbors said police returned to the house later that month and that everyone but the mother had moved out.

One tent and a tarp were set up in the woods a few blocks away from the home, in an area about a football field away from the pumps at a Dillons grocery store where fire crews tried to resuscitate Zoey. Neighbors suspect Zoey, Cherry and Zoey’s father were living there, although police haven’t confirmed that. Her dad worked at the gas station; a coworkers said Wednesday that he was taking time off and the company hasn’t responded to an email from the AP.

A makeshift memorial of flowers, balloons and toys sat nearby.



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