The godmother of a 2-year-old Philadelphia girl found beaten so severely in her Tacony home last week that it appeared she had been tortured was charged Monday in her murder, along with a second woman who lived in the house, District Attorney Larry Krasner said Monday.
Yatzirys Rodriguez died of blunt-force trauma, said Chesley Lightsey, who leads the Homicide Unit in the District Attorney’s Office. Bruises and healed wounds on her body indicated that she had been the victim of sustained abuse that Lightsey described as “torture.”
Yaritza Cirilo-Fuentes, 32, the child’s godmother, and Helen Smith, 42, a friend who authorities say was living in the home, were charged with murder, conspiracy, child endangerment, and related crimes.
Just after 2 p.m. Thursday, police were called to Cirilo-Fuentes’ home in the 6300 block of Marsden Street for a report of an unresponsive child. There, they found the girl, badly bruised. Medics took her to St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, where she was pronounced dead at 2:49 p.m.
“It’s a very disturbing case of child abuse. The child sustained horrific injuries,” Police Homicide Capt. Jason Smith said.
The child’s godmother had been taking care of her since November because her mother’s home had been without heat, he said. Authorities said the mother was cooperating with the investigation.
Lightsey said authorities had no idea why the women hurt the child.
“I can’t imagine there would ever be a motive that could be understood or dissected from an adult person who would torture a 2-year-old,” she said.
Yatzirys’ death comes at a time in Philadelphia when the number of young people falling victim to violence is rising.
In announcing the arrests, Krasner said the city had already reached 100 homicides this year, compared to 76 through the same point in 2020.
“Obviously we are all outraged and we are saddened by the continual gun violence in Philadelphia, it’s terrible impact on children, their families, their communities. Criminal behavior and conduct is unacceptable,” he said, speaking at the North Broad Street offices of NOMO, a youth-mentoring community group.
On Thursday, two teens were killed in separate incidents. Tamir Brown, 17 was gunned down on North 76th Street in Overbrook Park while making a music video. Three others were shot, one fatally, in that incident. At 7:30 that night, Kahree Simmons, 16, was fatally shot at the Christy Recreation Center in West Philadelphia while playing basketball.
On Friday, just before 8 p.m., Kyeir Pickens, 17, was fatally shot in the chest in the 5800 block of Kingsessing Avenue, police said.
No arrests have been made in the slayings, police said.