Growing up in an abusive home, Angelica Belen found comfort and safety behind the locked door of a bedroom or bathroom. So when her baby sitter fell through last spring, she locked her three young children in a bedroom and went to the new job she needed to support her family.
While she was gone, a fire sparked by faulty wiring in the kitchen killed her 5-year-old daughter, Nayeli Colon, and 4-year-old twin sons, Adrian and Alexis Colon. Their bodies were found huddled under a dresser in her home in the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis.
Belen, 25, was sentenced Friday to 18 years in prison and 18 years of extended supervision for the children’s deaths. Judge Jeffrey Wagner said he sympathized with Belen, who had been struggling to raise four children, three of them with special needs. But he also said she had failed in her duty to take care of them. Her fourth child was visiting his father at the time of the fire.
“I understand your terrible, terrible upbringing,” Wagner said. “I know you were victimized yourself growing up, and I understand that and I take that into consideration. But there shouldn’t be this cycle.”
A tearful Belen apologized profusely for leaving the children alone and the hurt that she caused her family. At one point, she spoke directly to her dead children.
“I’m sorry that you’ll never grow up. I am sorry that I will never see you grow up, graduate high school and have children of your own,” said Belen, who pleaded guilty in July to three counts of felony child neglect.
First and foremost R.I.P. to these poor children. Secondly, if you’re going to leave the kids alone, what purpose does it serve to lock them in a bedroom?? Without adult supervision what difference does it make??? SMH
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