Crime & Courts

Wichita mother charged with murder in her son’s death

Wichita family seeks answers in Zayden’s death

Three days before his third birthday, Zayden JayNesahkluah was found dead at a south Wichita motel where he had been staying with his mother, Kimberly Compass.
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Three days before his third birthday, Zayden JayNesahkluah was found dead at a south Wichita motel where he had been staying with his mother, Kimberly Compass.

A Wichita mother has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of her 2-year-old son.

Kimberly Compass, 23, was arrested last week and made her first appearance in court Tuesday afternoon, where she was formally charged.

Zayden JayNesahkluah, Compass’s son, was found dead at the Sunset Motel on south Broadway in Wichita on May 31.

The circumstances of his death remain unclear. Zayden’s autopsy has been completed, but the county won’t release it.

An autopsy report outlines the manner and cause of death. Zayden’s has been sealed by the Sedgwick County District Coroner, Kate Flavin, county spokeswoman, told The Eagle on Tuesday.

Wichita police and the Kansas Department for Children and Families had been waiting for the toxicology results from Zayden’s autopsy to determine if his death was a homicide.

Compass was arrested based on information received from the Regional Forensic Science Center, Wichita Police Department spokesman Charley Davidson said last week.

A criminal complaint filed Tuesday in Sedgwick County District Court says Compass killed her son while committing another dangerous felony: aggravated child endangerment.

Zayden’s cause of death was initially unknown and wasn’t immediately determined to be a homicide. His death wasn’t reported as suspicious until a week after his death. His mother remained free for two-and-a-half months.

Zayden’s older sister, who had also been living with Compass, was taken into protective custody.

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Compass denied any wrongdoing last month in a communication with an Eagle reporter.

She said she believed Zayden’s death was the result of a medical condition. He had been hospitalized weeks before he died after he had a seizure, she said.

“They kept us a weekend (and) released us and thought things were normal, but I am questioning it because I know as a mother I didn’t neglect my son and never would,” she wrote on July 8.

Kansas’ child welfare agency has not commented on its level of involvement with Zayden. Compass confirmed that DCF had received reports about Zayden’s welfare.

“All DCF reports I have are here at my home we’re (sic) investigated by multiple people and closed for being unsubstantiated,” she wrote in July.

Zayden is at least the ninth child age 5 or younger to die in the Wichita area under suspicious circumstances since 2017.

DCF won’t released a summary of its involvement with Zayden until it finds he died of abuse or neglect, a department spokesman said.

Compass’s bond was set at $500,000.

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Chance Swaim won the Betty Gage Holland Award in 2018 for distinguished service to honor and protect the integrity of public dialogue on America’s college campuses. He has been a news reporter for The Wichita Eagle since 2018. You can contact him at 316-269-6752 and cswaim@wichitaeagle.com.
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