This 13 year old boy had had a tough life. In 1997 his father died. In 2001, his mother died. As per his mother’s wishes, he moved in with his paternal grandparents, Leroy and June Candelario (61). Then Leroy died in 2002.
His grandmother has been working at the sheriff’s office for 3 years as a counselor, and counseled inmates with emotional problems. The grandmother worked from 4 pm to 2 am four days a week.
While she was at work, the grandmother allegedly padlocked the boy in a plastic dog kennel in his bedroom while she was away. When she arrived home about 3 am she would then release him from the cage. The boy weighed 110 pounds and was 5’4″ (64 inches). The cage measured 46 inches by 30 inches by 35 inches. Police have reported that it appeared to have a pillow or sleeping bag in the cage, but they didn’t know how he used the bathroom or if he used the bathroom while he was in the cage. Police are investigating whether she left food or water for him while she was gone.
Evidently the boy talked to someone at school about the treatment, that boy told his mother and she contacted police. Allegedly this has been going on for three years.
The boy is now in protective custody with Children’s services. Candelario is being held for investigation of false imprisonment, child abuse, kidnapping and reckless endangerment. She has been suspended from her job and is being held in jail on $100,000 bond. She has been ordered not to have any contact with the boy.
If you have ever worked evening or night shift, you would know that it is hard to get day care for children of any age. And likely the Grandmother knew that leaving most 13 year old kids home alone at night is almost asking for them to get into trouble. No offense to 13 year olds, but they are just old enough to have curious, social, imaginative minds and not old enough to have too many protective inhibitions.
And though this grandmother may not have wanted to be a parent again, she certainly had experience as a parent and with her job should have had some idea how to work with a 13 year old boy who had had such a hard time in life.
But putting him in a dog kennel? What happens to him if someone breaks into the home? What happens if there was a fire? What happens if he had a medical emergency? What happened if he had to go to the bathroom? What happened if he got a cramp, as with that size cage he probably couldn’t even have stretched out full length, let alone sit up.
Neighbors had noticed that the boy would hurry to get home from school, and he had said that he would get in trouble if he was late. Thinking of my own children’s schedule after school, there would have been snack time, homework time, TV/play time, and bath time along with a lot of talking.
Yet this boy would get out of school and rush home, because his grandmother had to be at work at 4 pm. When did he have time for the usual activities? What would he do with himself in those long hours while his grandmother was at work, alone in the home without anyone to talk to? When did he have time to do homework? When did he have time to just be a kid?
The grandmother would have sounded like a very capable person to leave your child with if you were unable to care for him. But often things are not always what they seem.
He was ten years old the first time his grandmother forced him into the cage. Police say he was dragged to the cage and his grandmother used her hands and feet to force him into it. After a couple of weeks he began to comply. About two weeks prior to the investigation the heat got so bad in the box that the boy vomited. The dried vomit was still in the box when it was taken into evidence.
The older siblings say they have tried to make contact with their brother through the years since their mother died, but that their phone calls and letters went unanswered. The older brother has asked to get the boy, but Children’s services is discouraging it because they say that he needs a mental health evaluation.
June Candelario has been charged with 39 criminal charges. One felony count of attempt to commit child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury, one count of second-degree kidnapping, and 37 counts of misdemeanor child abuse.
June Candelario pleaded guilty to charges of felony child abuse and was sentenced to 3 years in prison and 1 year probation.
The child refused to come to the sentencing hearing because he is reportedly still afraid of his grandmother. However he did send a letter telling what it felt like being caged, how scared and lonely he felt. He asked that his grandmother be locked up for 4 years.
His adoptive parents have said that he is doing well, he has put on weight and is making new friends. The family has plans to adopt him.