Ohio Mom Admits to Going on 10-Day Puerto Rican Vacation While Toddler Died of Starvation at Home

Kristel A. Candelario
Kristel A. Candelario and her 16-month-old daughter Jailyn. Twitter

A woman who left her 16-month-old daughter alone for more than a week while she vacationed, leading to the girl's death from starvation and dehydration, has pleaded guilty to murder.

Kristel A. Candelario, 32, of Cleveland, was indicted in June 2023 on counts including aggravated murder, murder, felonious assault and endangering children.

She pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of aggravated murder and one count of endangering children, according to a news release from the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office.

Candelario Left Her Daughter Unattended at Home, Returned Home 10 Days Later to Find Child Unresponsive

Authorities said Candelario on June 6 left her daughter Jailyn alone and unattended at her home near Lorain Avenue and West 97th Street while she traveled to Detroit and Puerto Rico. She returned 10 days later, on the morning of June 16, to find the girl unresponsive, and called police.

The child was pronounced dead at the home. She was discovered in a playpen soiled with urine and feces, according to the release. The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office determined she died of starvation and severe dehydration and ruled her death a homicide.

Prosecutor Slammed Candelario's Decision as 'Selfish'

"This case is one of those truly unimaginable cases that will stick with me for many years to come," Prosecutor Michael O'Malley is quoted in the release. "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."

Candelario was scheduled for trial on Monday, Feb. 26. A mental health doctor in December evaluated her competency and cleared her to stand trial, the FOX 8 I-Team reported. Candelario is now due for sentencing on March 18.