The godmother and caretaker of a 2-year-old girl was arrested and accused of killing the toddler, whose death prosecutors described as "torture."
A second woman was also charged in connection to the Philadelphia case. Investigators said they found evidence the child had been abused for months before her death.
Chesley Lightsey, the leader of the Homicide Unit in the District Attorney’s Office, described the sustained abuse as “torture,” according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Police received a radio call on March 11 about an unresponsive female toddler. The child, Yatzirys Rodriguez, was transported to the hospital, but died from injuries sustained due to blunt force trauma, according to the Philadelphia District Attorney.
The child’s grandmother had been taking care of the 2-year-old since November because her mother’s home had not been heated, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her mother is cooperating with the investigation.
The girl’s godmother, Yaritza Cirilo-Fuentes, 32, was charged with murder, endangering the welfare of a child, conspiracy, possession of an instrument of crime and false reporting to law enforcement. She also faces six counts of corruption of minors.
Another woman who lived in the home, 42-year-old Helen Smith, was charged with murder, conspiracy, possession of an instrument of crime, false reporting to law enforcement, and six counts of corruption of minors.
“Thanks to a number of witnesses who came forward with information that helped the Philadelphia Police Department apprehend those we believe responsible, we can now pursue justice in this horrific case of apparent long-term abuse involving this innocent 2-year-old girl,” said Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner.
“This pandemic has made it terribly difficult to spot signs of abuse because of the absence of contact between children and mandated reporters such as teachers and other service providers. That’s why it’s critically important that witnesses contact authorities if they suspect that child abuse is occurring.”