Mother Who Left Child to Die Sentenced to Life in Prison

( – A Cleveland woman has been sentenced to life in prison without parole after abandoning her 16-month-old daughter in a playpen to go on vacation. Judge Brendan Sheehan found that Kristel Candelario, 32, trapped her toddler, Jailyn Candelario, in a “tiny prison” in an “ultimate act of betrayal” while she traveled to Detroit and Puerto Rico in June 2023.

The judge told Candelario that she should receive the same confinement and punishment she inflicted on her daughter. Jailyn was left confined in the playpen for ten days while her mother was away. She died from severe dehydration and starvation due to neglect, according to forensic pathologist Elizabeth Mooney, who ruled the death a homicide.

Mooney described the circumstances of the toddler’s death as “terrifying” and stated that she endured extreme and prolonged suffering for up to a week before she died. Former substitute teacher Candelario had told investigators that she was at home looking after her daughter, who was ill and vomiting, before she found her unresponsive on June 16.

Cleveland Police Sergeant Teresa Gomez, one of the case’s homicide investigators, praised the court for letting her be a “voice” for the toddler when describing the disturbing outcome of the investigation. She concluded that Candelario placed greater value on joining her boyfriend on a vacation in Puerto Rico than she did on the safety and health of her own daughter. Gomez stressed that while the mother was enjoying sunny beaches, Jailyn was alone and afraid as she died a slow and painful death. Candelario pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and child endangerment.

The judge commented that the only difference between Candelario’s punishment and the one she put her child through is that she will at least receive the food and water that she denied her toddler. When given the opportunity to speak, Candelario claimed that she suffered from mental health issues, including depression, and that God and her daughter had forgiven her. She stated that though she could not justify her actions, nobody understood her suffering. The mother said her heart was torn into “a million pieces” and that she was there to tell people that her daughter came from a home of warmth where family was most important.

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