A California mom and her boyfriend are both facing felony child abuse charges after police say they left her three young children alone in the Mojave Desert Wednesday, seemingly as a punishment.
Outside temperatures were in the mid-90s when suspects Mary Bell, 34, and Gary Cassle, 29, allegedly left the kids, ages 7, 6 and 5, alone without water or shoes in the blazing sun near the city of Twentynine Palms.
The news was first reported by Desert Sun on Thursday.
The kids were found by a good Samaritan after being outside in the desert for roughly 45 minutes.
They were subsequently placed into the custody of San Bernardino County’s Children and Family Services. It does not appear that they suffered any injuries as a result of the ordeal.
"Obviously this is a very serious incident,” Cindy Bachman, a public information officer at San Bernardino County Sheriff Department, told InsideEdition.com. “It’s a good thing that the citizen saw them. They were obviously disturbed by what they saw."
Bell and Cassle, who were apprehended in their vehicle not far down the road, are due in court Friday afternoon. The pair are currently being held at the Morongo Basin Jail on $100,000 bail each, the Associated Press reported.
It is unclear why the children were being punished. According to Bachman, the group appeared to be homeless and living out of their car.
It’s not the first time parents have faced legal action for allegedly deliberately leaving their children unattended.
A mom in Connecticut, was booked in April for leaving her kids on their own so she could go shopping. Similar cases have also occurred in Texas and Maryland.
In Japan, a 7-year-old was found alive after a week alone in bear-infested woods where his parents left him as punishment for throwing rocks at cars.