TAMPA — A 2-year-old girl arrived at a Hillsborough Avenue clinic a few days ago with a swollen belly.
Blunt trauma had severed her pancreas, but that wasn't her only injury. Bite marks scarred her buttocks and thigh. Two ribs had been fractured. And on her tiny right knee, they found a burn mark in the shape of a fork.
Her injuries were so severe that the clinic staff immediately called an ambulance. The child underwent surgery at Tampa General Hospital and remains in critical but stable condition, Tampa police said Saturday afternoon.
"No adult should have to deal with that, let alone a 2-year-old little girl," said Andrea Davis, a spokeswoman for the Tampa Police Department. "The detectives are flabbergasted."
Investigators charged Carolina Pena, 22, with aggravated child abuse. She and Isidro Rosario, 26, were also charged with child neglect. Both were arrested at the hospital Friday night.
Jail documents identify Pena as the child's mother but do not state Rosario's relationship.
The fractured ribs were two weeks old and healing, police reported in Pena's arrest affidavit.
Rosario told police that the child was in Pena's care and control while he worked. He came home April 30 and saw that the toddler had a broken lip, he said, according to his arrest affidavit. Pena told him the child fell off a play set. The bite marks appeared this week.
On Monday, he saw that the child's stomach was distended, he told police.
The adults did not immediately seek medical attention for the child, police said. Jail records show they live in Unit 820 at Meridian Pointe Apartments, 2450 E Hillsborough Ave. Davis said they had moved in a week ago.
Pena is unemployed. Rosario is a welder.
State records show this was Pena's first arrest in Florida. Rosario has one prior arrest on charges of driving under the influence.
Rosario and Pena will likely face additional charges as the investigation continues, Davis said.
Their former landlord, Jupi Da Silva, 47, of 2013 Davis St., said he observed nothing unusual during the two years Rosario and Pena rented from him.
Da Silva said he thought the couple had three daughters, and the 2-year-old was the middle child. He said he thought Pena had given birth recently to the youngest child in October or November.
Although Rosario and Pena were private people, Da Silva said, he and his wife would see the kids sometimes, and they seemed healthy.
"You're kidding me," he said. "They seemed just fine."
Hilary Lehman can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 661-2441.