WICHITA — Authorities are investigating after a 2-year-old boy who was on the radar of child welfare officials died at a Wichita motel.
The Kansas Department of Children and Families identified the boy Thursday as Zayden Jaynesahkluah. Police say he was pronounced dead on May 31 after a woman called to report that he wasn't breathing.
No information has been released about how he died, and no arrests have been made. Police say they are awaiting a toxicology report.
State Rep. Michael Capps, a Wichita Republican, told KSNW-TV that welfare officials had been involved with Zayden's family before he died.
"At this time, we don't have details specific to the case other than the fact that this was an active DCF investigation, and the child did die in the course of that investigation," Capps said.
The welfare agency said in a statement that state law allows it to release further information about the case if it finds that Zayden's death was a result of abuse or neglect. The statement said it will take several weeks to make a finding. Saint Francis Ministries, a child welfare contractor, also released a statement in which it said it would work closely with the welfare agency to review its policies and procedures.
The Wichita area has seen several child abuse homicides. The victims include 3-year-old Evan Brewer, whose body was found encased in concrete, and 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez, whose body was found under a rural bridge months after he went missing.
"Our children and our families deserve far better. It's time to stop talking and time to start doing something about it," said Capps, who had had his own run-in with the agency. He won re-election last fall despite calls to end his campaign over a woman's allegations, which Capps described as "false," that he allowed two of her foster children to sit in his lap and rub his chest.
The state Department for Children and Families previously confirmed it had found "emotional abuse" by Capps, without providing further details, but its finding was overturned on a "technical error."
Zayden's father, Caleb Jaynesahkluah, said he also has questions about how his son died but was alarmed about the speculation on social media, noting that "it's still pending an investigation." He also requested prayers for his family.
"I just hope no one else has to go through this," Jaynesahkluah said.