SACRAMENTO COUNTY (CBS13) — A woman once honored as Sacramento County’s “child care provider of the year” has been charged with felony child endangerment after she left a 2-month-old baby who was not breathing in an upstairs crib unattended for about 30 minutes, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department announced Friday.
Sheila Marie Caceres, 31, was arrested Thursday and booked into the Sacramento County Jail on one charge of felony child endangerment and one misdemeanor charge of repeatedly allowing daycare children on the second floor of her home unsupervised, according to the District Attorney’s Office. She was released on $50,000 bail.
Caceres operated Garden Daycare through her home in the 4300 block of Grafton Circle near the former Mather Air Force Base. She was caring for 2-month-old Avin Rominger on Feb. 23 in her Mather home. She first told a deputy the baby was in a downstairs crib, then told sheriff’s detectives she took the baby upstairs to sleep after he was crying downstairs, according to the affidavit.
She told detectives that she put the baby in an upstairs crib but subsequently admitted that she left the baby asleep upstairs in a car seat.
Caceres also admitted that she checked on Avin at about 4:30 p.m., found that he was not breathing and, in a panic, put Avin in the crib and left him, the affidavit says.
“There were physical signs, it wasn’t just ‘I’m not sure if he’s breathing or not,’ there were physical signs — and she walked away.” Avin’s mother, Rachelle Rominger, told CBS13’s Derek Shore in an interview at her home on Friday.
According to the arrest affidavit, Caceres told detectives she noticed mucous coming from Avin’s mouth and “knew something was wrong with him but that she had never dealt with a baby not breathing before and just went into denial and moved him into the crib and left him.”
When Avin’s father, David Rominger, arrived to pick him up at about 4:55, Caceres told him that she had just found the baby was not breathing and she and an off-duty firefighter then began conducting CPR.
The baby was transported to Mercy San Juan Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
“My husband and I and other people in my family believe Sheila Caceres is responsible for the death of my son,” Rachelle Rominger said.
Avin’s autopsy listed his cause of death as sudden unexpected infant death with delayed medical intervention. According to pathologist Dr. Greg Reiber in the affidavit, “Whether the child might have been resuscitated if CPR had been initiated and 911 called when he was first found is unknown; however, any possibility of resuscitation would be made less likely by the delay in providing resuscitative measures.”
Caceres also told detectives that she didn’t make any phone calls after finding Avin not breathing, but phone records showed she called her father, Bryan Ellis, her husband, Gonzalo Caceres, and her close friend, Jennifer Clinton. Records also show her father, Bryan Ellis, called his brother, Greg Ellis, at 4:12 p.m, and Greg Ellis admitted to detectives that his brother told him “that a baby was found unresponsive at Sheila Caceres’ residence,” according to the affidavit.
Bryan Ellis initially denied speaking with Sheila Caceres about Avin, and then when confronted with the phone records “he stated he did not remember,” according to the affidavit.
Caceres was honored in 2008 as Sacramento County family child care provider of the year by the Sacramento Child Care Coalition.
Caceres, who surrendered her daycare license last month, is scheduled for arraignment on Nov. 4.