Woman Charged After Girl, 2, Dies in Hot Car, but Husband Says Child's Death Was Tragedy, Not Crime

Joselyn Maritza Méndez was left in a minivan for seven hours on Friday

Joselyn Maritza Méndez
Joselyn Maritza Méndez. Photo: Facebook

A 43-year-old woman has been charged with aggravated manslaughter in Florida, where officials allege she left a 2-year-old girl in a hot car for several hours on Friday, resulting in the child's death.

PEOPLE confirms through online records that Juana Perez-Domingo remains in custody on $50,000 bond following her arrest over the weekend.

Late Friday, toddler Joselyn Maritza Méndez was found unresponsive inside Perez-Domingo's minivan, according to an arrest report, obtained by the Associated Press and Local 10 News.

The arrest report indicates Joselyn's mother was paying Perez-Domingo $40 a week to take the little girl to daycare.

Perez-Domingo, who has no driver's license, picked up Joselyn on Friday morning at 6:30 a.m., it is alleged in the arrest report.

Because the daycare doesn't open until 8 a.m., Perez-Domingo drove the child in her minivan, which had no car seat, to her own home, bringing the toddler inside for more than an hour before strapping the child to the vehicle's third-row seat with a seatbelt.

The arrest report alleges Perez-Domingo told police she went back inside her home, and became distracted.

She returned to her minivan around 3:15 p.m., finding Joselyn inside, not moving.

Rather than call 911, Perez-Domingo allegedly phoned Joselyn's mother and told her the child was dead. She then drove the child to the mother's Homestead home, the arrest report alleges.

The victim's mother called 911 after Perez-Domingo arrived back to her home.

Joselyn's mother wants to know what happened to her daughter, and how. But Perez-Domingo's husband, who spoke to Local 10 News, said the toddler's death had to have been accidental.

"She forgot, or...I don't know, the only one who knows is her," said Pedro, who did not want to provide his last name. "All she said to me was, 'Goodbye my love.'"

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Pedro said his wife, who had been driving children to school and daycare the last six months, must have forgotten about the child.

"It was a tragedy, it wasn't intentional," Pedro said. "We don't really know what happened. The law here is blaming her, claiming murder, but it wasn't like that."

Online records failed to list an attorney for the woman.

Perez-Domingo has not yet entered a plea to the aggravated manslaughter of a child charge she faces.

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