Pair charged with beating death of 2-year-old

Assistant District Attorney Chesley Lightsey said two women have been charged in connection with the killing of 2-year-old Yatzirys Rodriguez.
PHOTO: Jack Tomczuk

Two women have been charged with murder after a 2-year-old girl was found beaten to death last week in Tacony.

Assistant District Attorney Chesley Lightsey said Yaritza Cirilo-Fuentes, 32, and Helen Smith, 42, subjected the girl, Yatzirys Rodriguez, to “horrific, long-term torture” before she was discovered unresponsive Thursday afternoon on the 6300 block of Marsden Street.

Yatzirys, who was set to turn 3 in May, was bruised from head to toe and had gashes on her forehead and scalp, Lightsey told reporters Monday.

“There were open wounds that seemed to be pretty old on her head,” she added. “There were what appeared to be knuckle marks, punch marks on the top of her head.”

Cirilo-Fuentes was considered the child’s godmother, Lightsey said, and her mother left the girl in her care beginning in November. Prosecutors would not say what prompted the mother to give up custody of Yatzirys, but they said she has been cooperating with the investigation.

“She believed that the child would be safe there, and, obviously, that belief was wrong,” Lightsey said.

Smith lived at the Marsden Street home, though it’s unclear how she was connected to Cirilo-Fuentes and Yatzirys, authorities said.

Legal counsel for Cirilo-Fuentes did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday, and Smith’s attorney could not be identified.

Both women have been charged with murder, conspiracy and multiple counts relating to the corruption of minors, and they are being held without bail, according to court records.