Baby sitter held in toddler's death

Kristal Giovannoni, 23, of Clark County is accused of manslaughter in the death of Theresa Caballero
Monday, November 15, 2004
Detectives arrested a Clark County woman on Sunday after the toddler she was baby-sitting died of brain injuries earlier in the day at a Portland hospital.

Kristal D. Giovannoni, 23, who is pregnant, is accused of first-degree manslaughter in the death of 17-month-old Theresa Caballero.

The toddler had been taken to Doernbecher Children's Hospital Saturday while her mother, Perla Caballero of Portland, was away from home.

Clark County Sheriff's Sgt. Don Polen said Theresa Caballero died of injuries sustained while under Giovannoni's care.

"Kristal was responsible for them," Polen said.

Polen said he had no further information on the nature of the injuries or how they were caused. Investigators from the Child Abuse Intervention Center, which includes detectives from the Clark County Sheriff's Office and the Vancouver Police Department, released no additional details.

Perla Caballero said she trusted Giovannoni, who had cared for her daughter for months before recently starting a day-care business for about a half-dozen children at her home in a newer, well-kept Clark County subdivision. Caballero said she immediately enrolled her daughter.

Karen Jones, who lives across the street from the day care, said the children, including her 6-year-old grandson, appeared happy there.

Caballero said Giovannoni initially told her that Theresa was hurt from a fall off a couch. But Caballero said she got different information at the hospital, watching as her daughter's heart rate slowly dropped and a team of doctors was unable to save her.

Caballero called it "the ultimate betrayal" for "someone to claim they loved her as their own and they wouldn't harm her and for me to end up in this situation where I'm mourning my daughter."

She said Theresa loved life and dogs and was learning words in English and Spanish. Caballero took her daughter to Giovannoni's home in the 9900 block of Northeast 104th Court, outside Vancouver, because it was a quick trip up Interstate 205 from her work in Portland.

Caballero warned parents to carefully investigate day-care providers but said she never had any misgivings about Giovannoni and that her daughter always seemed happy to go to day care.

Next-door neighbor Keith Condon said he liked Giovannoni and her husband. Jones said she baked an extra pumpkin pie to send across the street to Giovannoni, who responded with items for her.

"She was a very good neighbor," Jones said. "I've seen her carry Theresa. She was good with the children."

Giovannoni is scheduled to be arraigned today. She was being held without bail in the Clark County Jail.

Copyright 2004 Oregon Live. All Rights Reserved.
this is scary, especially now that I do child care and am often tired and sometimes frustrated.