Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough deputies charge man in death of girlfriend's toddler, 2

TAMPA — Two-year-old Gabrielle Randel couldn't sleep.

Her cries filled Room 108 at the Homestead Studio Suites hotel, where her family stayed Saturday night.

Sometime between 1 and 5 a.m. Sunday, deputies say, Kenneth G. Lopez, 21, wrapped his girlfriend's daughter in a towel, binding her torso and arms.

Then, according to a deputy's report, he wound a sheet around Gabrielle's body and face, and struck her repeatedly with his hand.

At 5 a.m., Gabrielle's mother, Danielle McCleary, 23, called authorities.

Her daughter couldn't breathe and didn't respond.

In a report, a deputy who arrived at the hotel described Gabrielle's injuries like this: "blunt trauma to her forehead, multiple bruising, abrasions, and a hand mark upon her body, as well as trauma to her genitalia."

Gabrielle died at 1 p.m. Sunday at Tampa General Hospital.

Lopez admitted to bundling the child and striking her to get her to hush, sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.

Also in the room at the time was Gabrielle's 3-year-old brother. He has been placed in the custody of the Department of Children and Families, Carter said.

McCleary told deputies she and Lopez had been living at the hotel for two weeks since moving here from Illinois.

McCleary has relatives in the area, Carter said.

A woman at one relative's home said the family's grief is too fresh to talk.

On Monday evening at the Homestead Studio Suites just off of Hillsborough Avenue and Veterans Highway, customers came and went. The hotel advertises nightly and weekly rates, starting at $59.99 a night for rooms that include fully equipped kitchens.

Lopez was booked into Orient Road Jail without bond on a charge of aggravated child abuse. Deputies expect to upgrade that charge to reflect the toddler's death.

Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at or (813) 226-3383.

Hillsborough deputies charge man in death of girlfriend's toddler, 2 03/09/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 1:37am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Motorcyclist killed in Pinellas Park crash, prompting road closures


    A motorcyclist was killed early Tuesday morning when he left the roadway and possibly struck a parked vehicle in Pinellas Park.

  2. Meet the five finalists for St. Petersburg College president


    ST. PETERSBURG — In the last month, five finalists for the job of St. Petersburg College president have taken campus tours and answered questions from students, faculty and staff.

    The Douglas L. Jamerson, Jr., Midtown Center of St. Petersburg College, opened in 2015, is considered a major accomplishment by outgoing SPC president William Law. [SOPHIA NAHLI  ALLISON  |   TIMES]
  3. What you need to know for Tuesday, May 30


    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Austin Mahone performs at the Y100's Jingle Ball 2016 last December in Sunrise. Read our interview with him this morning. [Getty Images for iHeart]
  4. Clarity coming this week on Florida Gators, Malik Zaire


    After months of speculation, we could finally get some clarity this week on the Florida Gators and graduate transfer quarterback Malik Zaire.

    SEC flags outside the hotel of last year's spring meetings in Destin. This year's meetings could have a huge impact on the Florida Gators' season.
  5. At low point two years ago, West Tampa legion post has new home, new hope


    WEST TAMPA — Norma Hernandez is home again, playing bingo with her family.

    John Gebo calls out the numbers during bingo night at the West Tampa Memorial American Legion Post 248. 

The post closed its old headquarters two years ago as numbers dwindled and now occupies a new building. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times