You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

Mother of little girl who starved: I didn’t realize how small she was


The mother of a 13-month-old little girl who starved to death said she never noticed that her daughter had withered to the weight of a newborn.

“I knew she was small. I didn’t realize she was that small,” Kristen Meyer-Aleman told detectives in a three-hour interview in September about her daughter Tayla’s April 2016 death. “Why would I starve my child?”

The day of the interview, she and her husband, Alejandro, had been arrested and charged with first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and animal abuse. They face the death penalty.

READ MORE: Complete coverage of Tayla Aleman’s death

Tayla died of exhaustion caused by neglect and weighed 7 pounds at death, 2 pounds less than when she was born, the medical examiner said. Detectives told her mother she “looked like a concentration camp survivor.”

In an interrogation recorded on tapes released by the State Attorney’s Office Thursday, Meyer-Aleman argued and interrupted detectives. When confronted with the piles of clothes found in her Loxahatchee home, several feet high and reeking of urine and feces, she said the landlord hadn’t provided a working washer and dryer yet she also said she did laundry every day.

She said the dogs and her other children could be the reason the walls were spread with feces.

INTERACTIVE: Walk through the Alemans’ home

And she didn’t believe detectives when they told her Tayla had a severe rash around her genitals – so red it resembled burns — seen at Palms West Hospital where the child died.

“It didn’t look that way when she went to the hospital,” Meyer-Aleman said.

Tayla’s rash was only about the size of a quarter, she told them, and was caused by her daughter drinking apple juice.

Her husband, Alejandro, on the other hand, said he never once picked up his 13-month-old daughter.

Nor had he ever cradled any of the other nine children born before Tayla when they were babies.

“I won’t hold a baby until, until like 2 years old,” Aleman said. “I don’t do little kids. I don’t,” adding that he was “scared” of them.

During the interviews, he got frustrated, even annoyed, when detectives asked him why Tayla was so thin.

“Aggravated child abuse and murder of my daughter, wow,” Aleman said. “That’s a nasty charge, a really nasty charge.”

Tayla’s 10 siblings — one of whom was born after she died — have been under the care of the Florida Department of Children and Families since her death.

In the recordings, both parents adamantly denied having anything to do with Tayla’s death, and neither said they noticed that she was abnormally thin.

“I don’t really know how you pay attention to that,” Aleman told Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Detective Vionide St. Jean.

“She was small. In my mind, I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong,” Meyer-Aleman said.

Detectives grew increasingly frustrated with Aleman, who said that after Tayla died, he read that she might have had a disease.

“There’s a disease or something where a baby eats all the time but doesn’t put on weight,” he said.

“Tayla did not have a disease,” an exasperated St. Jean said. “There was no disease. It was starving.”

An autopsy revealed Tayla was suffering from multiple strains of influenza, E. coli, the start of pneumonia and a bacteria known to cause skin infections.

Aleman insisted his daughter was fed and was baffled why detectives pressed him about taking not taking Tayla to see a doctor.

“Is there a law that your baby has to go to the doctor?” Aleman asks.

“Yes,” a detective responds. “It’s called medical treatment.”

When deputies visited their three-bedroom Loxahatchee home, they could smell urine from the end of the driveway. Inside, there was no food, and the carpets were black, stained and reeking. Feces was on the wall, and one of the dogs had been kept in a cage for two months.

The older kids pestered their parents about Tayla being “different,” Aleman said. “Everything about her was different, she was never like the rest of the kids,” Aleman said.

But his wife said they never treated her any differently.

“We all loved her,” she told detectives. “I treat all my kids the same way. I wasn’t different with any of my children, and then all this happened and threw my family into a turmoil.”

Meyer-Aleman said her daughter’s death has broken her heart.

“I don’t think anybody understands what it has done to me,” she said. “It has killed me inside.”

But Detective St. Jean said she really didn’t understand. 

“I don’t think you are an animal and I don’t think you are a monster, but only an animal and a monster would sit there and let their child shrivel up and die like that.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

NEW: Martin, state authorities investigating death of month-old girl
NEW: Martin, state authorities investigating death of month-old girl

Martin County and state authorities are investigating the death of a month-old girl that occurred Wednesday at a home in Jensen Beach. The child’s parents took her to Martin Memorial Hospital North in Stuart after she was found unresponsive, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office said. Doctors attempted to save her life but could not revive...
NEW: Girl, 3, struck by car in Tequesta, flown to hospital
NEW: Girl, 3, struck by car in Tequesta, flown to hospital

A 3-year-old girl was flown to St. Mary’s Medical Center late Friday after a vehicle backed into her, Tequesta Fire Rescue reports. The incident happened at about about 5:45 p.m. on the 100 block of Magnolia Way, south of County Line Road and east of Riverside Drive. The girl was awake and alert when paramedics arrived at the scene, Fire Rescue...
What happened to Isabella? Agencies probe mystery of missing woman
What happened to Isabella? Agencies probe mystery of missing woman

On Tuesday night, a neighbor watched out the window of her condo west of the city as official-looking men wearing powder-blue latex gloves searched Lewis Bennett’s car and questioned him as he stood nearby. Neighbors say they last saw Isabella Hellmann weeks before Bennett, her newlywed husband, says he left with her on a two-week romantic sailing...
NEW: Florida woman accused of paying child to have sex with her
NEW: Florida woman accused of paying child to have sex with her

A Port St. Lucie woman is accused of paying a child under the age of 15 up to $300 for sexual encounters, city police said. Rebecca McGraw, 38, was arrested on Thursday and is facing five counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor under the age of 15 by an adult, police say. She admitted to at least five sexual acts with the victim. McGraw remained...
VIDEO: Man wanders around Miami airport naked
VIDEO: Man wanders around Miami airport naked

A man was caught on camera wandering around Miami International Airport naked on Friday.  Someone filmed the incident on their phone and posted it to Twitter, showing the man walking around the terminal wearing only black socks as he waved to people walking by. A woman told WPLG that she saw the man starting to take his shirt off and she ...
More Stories