Things That Matter

2-Year-Old Joselyn Maritza Méndez Died After Her ‘Distracted’ Caretaker Left Her In a Hot Car For 7 Hours

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On Friday, Florida woman Elbia Mendez-Ramirez got a phone call that is every parent’s worst nightmare. Her 2-year-old daughter, Joselyn Maritza Méndez, was dead. The call came from the girl’s caretaker, a 43-year-old woman named Juana Perez-Domingo.

Juana Perez-Domingo said that she forgot about Joselyn and accidentally left her in a hot minivan for seven hours.

According to the arrest report, Joselyn’s mother paid Perez-Domingo $40 a week to drive her daughter to daycare. On Friday morning, Perez-Domingo picked up Joselyn at 6:30am. Since the daycare doesn’t open until 8am, Perez-Domingo brought Joselyn back to her own home and brought her inside for around an hour. She then took Joselyn back out and buckled her in the backseat.

Perez-Domingo then says she went back inside and became “distracted”. She went back to the car at 3:15pm to find Joselyn dead. Instead of calling 911, Perez-Domingo instead drove Joselyn’s body over to Mendez-Ramirez’s house. It was then that the girl’s mother called 911.

Over the weekend, police arrested Juana Perez-Domingo on charges of aggravated manslaughter.

According to police, Juana Perez-Domingo does not have a driver’s license. Authorities also note that there was no car seat for the 2-year-old in Perez-Domingo’s minivan. Perez-Domingo alleges that she didn’t call the authorities immediately upon finding Joselyn Maritza Méndez because she was afraid they would deport her.

Local news station WPLG reports that both Perez-Domingo’s husband as well as her friends claim that the girl’s death was a tragic accident. “She forgot, or, I don’t know, the only one who knows is her,” he told WPLG. “All she said to me was, ‘Goodbye my love.’”

“It was a tragedy, it wasn’t intentional,” her husband continued. “We don’t really know what happened. The law here is blaming her, claiming murder, but it wasn’t like that.”

Now, Joselyn’s bereaved mother is looking for answers. “I want to know what happened to my daughter. What time she died and why I was not contacted,” Mendez-Ramirez told WPLG.

As of now, Perez-Domingo posted her $50,000 and is now under house arrest. She cannot drive any children except her own.

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