As punishment, 3 children left in desert without water
A mother and her boyfriend were arrested after they punished her three young children by leaving them in the desert in Twentynine Palms in temperatures just shy of 100 degrees on Wednesday, sheriff's officials said.
The children -- a 7-year-old girl, 6-year-old boy and a 5-year-old boy -- were discovered about 11:20 a.m. near the 74-000 block of Samarkand Drive, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. Their parents were "down the road from the children," sheriff's spokeswoman Cynthia Bachman said.
Officials haven't determined why the children were being punished, but they did not need medical treatment after they were found.
They had been in the desert for about 45 minutes without any shoes or water before a local resident alerted authorities. At the time, temperatures were about 95-100 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
"The temperature was going up over the course of that hour," said Todd Lericos, a meteorologist.
Temperatures topped off at 104 degrees and there was no wind to help cool the area, he said.
The south-facing homes along the 74-000 block of Samarkand Drive -- where the children were found -- back up into open desert. The street itself ends at Desert Knoll Avenue.
To the east are acres of flattened sand where it appears the beginnings of a development is underway.
The road is dirt. The few homes on this stretch are ramshackle and one seems to be abandoned. To the south and the east, the desert stretches for miles.
A woman in the 74-000 block, who declined to identify herself, had been following the news about the abandoned children.
"Those poor kids -- I feel so sorry for them," she told The Desert Sun. "There's bugs, snakes, broken pieces of wood out there. I wouldn't last a half-hour."
Bachman said the children were living in a truck with their mother and her boyfriend, who were all described as "local transients."
The adults were identified as Mary Bell, 34, and Gary Cassle, 29. They were arrested on suspicion of child abuse and each one is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail at the Morongo Basin Jail.
Both suspects are scheduled to appear in San Bernardino County Superior Court on Friday. According to court records, Cassle has several convictions dating back to 2009 for crimes that include being drunk in public, disturbing the peace and driving without a valid license.
CL Lopez, a spokeswoman for San Bernardino County Children and Family Services, said she could not say whether her agency took custody of the children.
Anyone with information related to the incident is asked to contact the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department's Morongo Basin Station at (760) 366-4175.
The incident was the second time in less than a month that the High Desert community was rocked by arrests involving child abuse accusations. On June 25, seven children were removed from a home on Foothill Drive that officials deemed "uninhabitable."
According to the sheriff's department, there was no food in the home, floors were covered in water due to blocked plumbing and animal feces covered a bedroom floor where everyone slept. Large rats ran around the garage and roaches infested several parts of the home.
Officials identified the parents as Arsenio Jones, 26, and Daniel Reid, 31. Both were arrested on suspicion of child abuse and later pleaded not guilty to the accusations.
The children were placed into the custody of San Bernardino County Children and Family Services. Sheriff's officials said those children were in good health and did not require medical treatment.
( Source )