A Parker County mother who told investigators that she locked her two children in a hot car as punishment was arrested Friday, authorities said.
The two children were pronounced dead after being found in the car on the afternoon of May 26, which at the time was the hottest day of the year.
Cynthia Marie Randolph, 25, told investigators with the Parker County Sheriff’s Office that she was trying to teach her 2-year-old daughter a lesson by putting in the car with her 16-month-old brother.
Randolph was charged with two first-degree felony counts of injury to a child causing serious bodily injury. She was booked into the Parker County Jail. Her bond had not been set as of late Friday.
Randolph said that after she closed the car door on her two children she went inside her residence and smoked marijuana, then took a two-to-three hour nap, according to a news release from the Parker County Sheriff’s Office.
Randolph told investigators that she believed the toddlers could get out of the vehicle. Randolph later said she broke the window of the vehicle to make it look like an accident.
But after being questioned again by investigators, Randolph told them several different versions of the events that transpired on May 26.
When it's 95 degrees outside, the inside of a vehicle can reach 140 degrees in one hour, according to noheatstroke.org. Heatstroke begins when the body temperature reaches 104 degrees.
Texas has had at least 121 heat-related deaths of children left in vehicles since 1990, more than any other state in the nation, according to KidsandCars.org and Star-Telegram research.
This year, 13 children have died nationwide after being left in vehicles, according to noheatstroke.org. Of those, three have been in North Texas, including the two Friday in Parker County.
Sheriff’s deputies were called to a residence in the 200 block of Rambling Loop, in unincorporated Parker County west of Lake Weatherford, where Randolph told detectives that she found her two children unresponsive after being locked inside a vehicle. The children were later identified by the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office as Juliet Ramirez, 2, and Cavanaugh Ramirez, 16 months.
A ruling on the cause and manner of death in each child is pending, according to the medical examiner’s website.
Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler said the incident was reported shortly after 4 p.m., when the temperatures had reached approximately 96 degrees.
Randolph initially said she was inside her residence folding laundry and watching television as the children played in an enclosed back porch visible from the living room. After about 20 to 30 minutes passed, Randolph said she realized she had not heard the children and noticed they were gone. Randolph stated she spent the next 30 to 40 minutes searching for her children, the release said.
Randolph said that both children apparently “took off” and that after searching the area they were found locked inside a small four-door vehicle on the property, according to the release. Randolph told authorities that the children entered the vehicle on their own and had locked themselves inside.
After she found both children unresponsive, Randolph said she broke a window of the vehicle in an attempt to save the children, the release stated. Emergency medical personnel were contacted and both children were pronounced dead shortly after 4:30 p.m.
Randolph was arrested after several subsequent interviews and an extensive investigation conducted by sheriff’s investigators with the assistance of the Texas Rangers, the release said.
Fowler said that any incidents involving any child are difficult ones, but this call was especially heartbreaking because of the unfortunate deaths of the two children.