Crime & Courts

Toddler whose mother is facing murder charge died of methadone toxicity, autopsy says

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 toddler whose mother is charged with first-degree felony murder in his May death died from methadone toxicity. But examiners weren’t able to determine the manner of death because it’s unclear how the boy obtained the drug, his autopsy report says.

A juice bottle and a soda can found at the scene tested positive for the drug, the report says.

Zayden JayNesahkluah died May 31 in a room at the Sunset Motel on south Broadway where he was staying with his mother, 23-year-old Kimberly Compass. Officers arrested Compass on Aug. 15 based on information the Wichita Police Department received from the Sedgwick County Regional Forensic Science Center about how the boy died. At the time police wouldn’t disclose what that information was or what killed the boy.

The regional forensic science center initially filed the autopsy report under seal, denying a request from The Wichita Eagle to release it. The Eagle obtained a copy of the autopsy report Wednesday afternoon after disputing the coroner’s authority to seal it.

The autopsy report says Zayden’s blood tested positive for methadone at a rate of .82 milligram per liter in blood drawn from a femoral vein and .50 milligram per liter in blood drawn from his heart.

But it says that “due to uncertainty regarding the details of how the decedent (Zayden) obtained methadone, the manner of death is undetermined.”

Examples of manner of death in Kansas include homicide, suicide and accident.

In addition to testing the boy’s blood for substances, examiners also tested a juice bottle containing red liquid and a cigarette butt, a Styrofoam cup with brown residue in it, and a soda can that had a cigarette butt and cigarette ashes in it, the autopsy report says.

The juice bottle and the soda can tested positive for methadone as well as nicotine, the autopsy report says. The Styrofoam cup tested positive for nicotine but not methadone. The cup and the soda can also tested positive for caffeine.

Compass denied any wrongdoing last month in a Facebook message to an Eagle reporter, saying 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 told The Eagle reporter.

Zayden was treated for seizures at a hospital from May 2 to May 3, the autopsy report says under the “circumstances of death” section. The seizures were most likely due to a viral infection, it says.

Compass, Zayden and his sister, and a man had checked into the motel around midnight after the electricity was shut off at their residence, the report says. Around 9:45 that morning, Zayden was found not breathing in bed. He was pronounced dead at 10:35 a.m.

The Kansas Department for Children and Families has not released its findings or summary of its involvement with Zayden leading up to his death.

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

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