Mom who left toddler at home for 10 days while on holiday pleads guilty to murder

In this booking photo provided by the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department, is Kristel Candelario, 32, of Cleveland, Ohio. Candelario pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and child endangerment Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in the death of her 16-month-old daughter, who authorities say was left alone for 10 days while she went on vacation. Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department via AP, File

An Ohio mother has pleaded guilty to aggravated murder after she left her 16-month-old daughter in a playpen at home while she went on a vacation.

Kristel Candelario, 32, is facing a lifetime in prison after her daughter Jailyn was found dead in their Cleveland home.

She had been left alone for 10 days while Candelario travelled to Detroit and Puerto Rico last summer, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley wrote in a press release.

When Candelario returned home on June 16, she found the 16-month-old unresponsive and she called police.

“Jailyn was extremely dehydrated at the time of death,” O’Malley wrote. “Jailyn was discovered in a Pack-N-Play pen on a liner soiled with urine and feces with soiled blankets.”

An autopsy determined that the toddler had died of starvation and severe dehydration.

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Candelario pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and child endangerment on Thursday as part of a plea deal with prosecutors, who agreed to dismiss two additional murder counts and a felonious assault charge.

Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 18.

“This case is one of those truly unimaginable cases that will stick with me for many years to come,” O’Malley said Thursday. “As prosecutors, it is our job to represent the victims and today we spoke on behalf of 16-month-old Jailyn — who is no longer with us — due to the selfish decisions her mother made. This conviction today is the first step towards justice for Jailyn.”

When Candelario was first indicted on murder charges last summer, O’Malley said at the time that it was “unfathomable that a mother would leave her 16-month-old child alone without any supervision for 10 days to go on a vacation.”

“As parents, we are supposed to protect and care for our children. Imagining this child’s suffering during her last days of life alone is truly horrifying, and we will do everything in our power to seek justice on her behalf,” he was quoted as saying by News 5 Cleveland.


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