Prince William County police investigating the death of an infant, in a case they say shows no immediate signs of foul play, uncovered what authorities say was an illegally run day care center and a potentially dangerous situation for the more than 20 children under the care of its two supervisors.
Police charged caretakers Yolanda G. Larin, 50, of the 8600 block of Weems Road in Manassas and Mirna Mendez, 42, of the 13000 block of Katherine Court in Woodbridge, with five counts each of child endangerment. Those charges stem from five children under 12 months of age who were found at the illegally run day care.
A sixth child, 3-month-old Teagan Sample of Bristow, died Thursday afternoon. She was found unresponsive about 1 p.m. Thursday at the day care in the 3200 block of Sapphire Ridge Place in Bristow. Authorities do not know how she died.
No other children appear to have been hurt and were released to their parents or guardians.
Police found 23 children at the unlicensed day care in a single-family home. The children ranged in age from newborn to 4 years.
The charges relate solely to child endangerment, not to Teagan’s death. A preliminary autopsy is being done today and more extensive testing – such as a toxicology report – may take several months to complete, said Officer Jonathan Perok, a Prince William police spokesman.
Perok said he remembers one report in the past two years of an illegally run day-care center. But if they are operating, authorities don’t typically know about them, he said. They only uncovered the Bristow day-care center after responding to the unresponsive child and launching the death investigation, he said.
“You don’t know they’re going on unless something draws your attention to them,” Perok said.
The two owners of the Bristow home where the day care was operating are out of the country, Perok said. Police want to interview them before moving forward on possible charges, he said.
Larin and Mendez are being held without bond and a court date has been set for May 16.