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Home Vacation A toddler died after her mom left her home alone while she took a 10-day vacation

A toddler died after her mom left her home alone while she took a 10-day vacation

by Staff
A toddler died after her mom left her home alone while she took a 10-day vacation

An image of Kristel Candelario’s toddler, Jailyn, is shown during her sentencing hearing.

Jailyn’s
cries echoed through the quiet streets of Cleveland in the dead of the night.
The toddler whimpered and howled, but no one came to her rescue.

Her mother, Kristel Candelario, was away on a 10-day summer vacation and
had left Jailyn alone in a playpen with a few bottles of milk, prosecutors
said. A neighbor’s doorbell camera captured the 16-month old’s frequent screams,
including one around 1 a.m. two days after her mother left.

But Candelario was hundreds of miles away in Puerto Rico with a
male friend, authorities said. After a few days at the beach and another stop
in Detroit, she returned home on June 16 last year to find her daughter dead.
She’d been gone for about 10 days.

Candelario
pleaded guilty last month to one count of aggravated murder and one count of
child endangering.

At her sentencing Monday,
forensic pathologist Elizabeth Mooney told a Cleveland courtroom that children
experience the most extreme separation anxiety between nine and 18 months. She
recounted Jailyn’s excruciating final days.

“The
pain and suffering she endured lasted not only hours, not days, but possibly
even a week,” Mooney said, fighting back tears.

“This
feeling of abandonment for days on end, coupled with the pain of starvation and
extreme thirst is a type of suffering I don’t think any of us could ever fully
fathom.”

The toddler was found dehydrated and emaciated

A
judge sentenced Candelario on Monday to life in prison, marking a final chapter
in a case so grim that the investigators involved described it as the most
horrific they’ve witnessed in their careers.

Law
enforcement officials, including Cleveland Police Sgt Teresa Gomez, fought back
tears as they described the baby’s condition.

“This
is a case that … we’ll have branded in our minds and in our hearts forever,”
Gomez said at the sentencing.

Assistant
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Anna Faraglia played security video of the mother
hauling her suitcase to a car on June 6 and returning home on June 16. Minutes
after she returned, Candelario called 911.

“Please
I need help,” she wailed in a 911 call played during the sentencing. “Please,
please, help me. My daughter is dying.”

Candelario
had dressed Jailyn in a clean outfit before emergency responders arrived, the
prosecutor said. But the change of clothes did not hide the horrors the girl
had gone through, and Candelario’s sob story started unraveling.

Faraglia
said Jailyn was found lying on a mattress covered in urine and feces. “Animals
take care of their infants better,” she said.

The
girl was emaciated, with sunken eyes, dry lips and fecal matter in her mouth
and fingernails. She weighed seven pounds less than she had at her last
doctor’s visit two months earlier, Mooney said.

Her parents blamed her actions on mental health struggles

Candelario’s
parents pleaded with the judge for mercy.

In
a prepared statement, her mother, Ketty Torres, said her daughter had battled
health struggles, including mental health illness and fainting spells. When her
daughter stopped taking medication, it worsened her depression and anxiety, and
contributed to her inability to make sound decisions, she added.

Torres
said the family was not aware of what was happening.

Candelario
told the court she prays daily for forgiveness, adding that she believes God
and Jailyn have forgiven her.

“I
am not trying to justify my actions, but nobody knew how much I was suffering
and what I was going through,” she said.

Cuyahoga
County Common Pleas Court Judge Brendan Sheehan admonished
her as he handed down the sentence.

Speaking
sternly, he said Candelario left her child “trapped in a tiny prison” for days
while she was out having a good time.

“The
bond between a mother and a child is one of the most purest and most sacred
bonds. It’s a relationship built on love, trust, and unwavering protection. …
You committed the ultimate act of betrayal,” Sheehan said.

“That
little baby persevered, waiting for someone to save her. And you could have
done that with a simple phone call. Instead, I see photos of you on a beach
while your child was eating her own feces in an attempt to survive.”

The
judge sentenced her to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“Just
as you didn’t let Jailyn out of her confinement until she died, so too you
should spend the rest of your life in a cell without freedom,” Sheehan said.
“The only difference is that prison will at least feed you.”

At
the sentencing, lead detective T.J. Powell said Jailyn will never be forgotten.
His voice quivered as he read a poem in her memory:

J
is for the justice that will be received today.

A
is for the angel wings she earned on that dreadful day.

I
is for the incremental repetition buildup of suspense for a … death that
clearly makes no sense.

L
is for the lack of love while alone for 11 days.

Y
is for a young life that was taken away.

N
is for new eternal life Jailyn gained on that day. No child should ever have to
die this way.

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