TOPEKA (KSNT)- Nearly two weeks after the murder of five-year old Zoey Felix, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly is speaking out about her agency’s investigation of her tragic death.
Felix died Oct. 2; 25-year old Mickel Cherry, a family acquaintance, was charged with her rape and murder.
Neighbors told Kansas Capitol Bureau that Felix, her father and sister, were homeless, after Felix’s mother kicked them out of the home they shared in southeast Topeka. Neighbors also claimed that several calls were made to Child Protective Services prior to Felix’s death.
Kansas Department of Children and Families officials said that they are legally barred from sharing information on Felix’s death.
“I understand people’s frustration about this… Unfortunately, the statute is such that DCF is really limited in what they can say,” Gov. Kelly told reporters on Monday. “We did have a bill last session that would’ve allowed DCF to give out information in a more timely manner. That bill did not make it through the Legislature… we will propose it again this session.”
Kelly said that the agency’s hands are essentially tied, under current law. She said DCF officials have to “jump through hoops” before sharing information with the public. Lawmakers considered a policy that would allow the agency to speed up the process of releasing information, but the bill failed to pass before the end of the Legislative session.
“The bill would allow them to get it out much more quickly,” Kelly said.
DCF spokesman Mike Deines said that DCF Child Protective Investigators are charged with leading the investigation into whether abuse or neglect may have resulted in Felix’s death.
On Monday, Oct. 16, Kansas Capitol Bureau asked the Governor if she believes the agency’s involvement in investigating the incident presented a “conflict of interest.”
“I don’t think so… this is the way it’s always been done,” Kelly said. “If, after the investigation is done, there appears that there’s a problem… we will look into that and recommend changes, if necessary, but, to date, we have not had a problem with that.”
A motion hearing for Felix’s case is scheduled for Dec. 13 in Shawnee County. The man charged with Felix’s death is expected to appear in court.