Fort Worth

Mom accused of leaving kids in hot car in Parker County is indicted in their deaths

Juliet Ramirez, left, and her brother, Cavanaugh Ramirez, died on May 26 after being locked in a hot car, according to authorities. Their mother, Cynthia Randolph, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in their deaths.
Juliet Ramirez, left, and her brother, Cavanaugh Ramirez, died on May 26 after being locked in a hot car, according to authorities. Their mother, Cynthia Randolph, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in their deaths. Courtesy

A Parker County grand jury has indicted a young mother in the deaths of her two young children in May after she left them in a hot car for hours.

Last week, jurors indicted Cynthia Marie Randolph, 24, on charges of injury to a child causing serious bodily injury in the deaths of her 2-year-old daughter, Juliet Ramirez, and her 16-month-old son, Cavanaugh Ramirez.

The Tarrant County medical examiner’s office found that the children died from exogenous hyperthermia, or heatstroke, and ruled their deaths as homicides.

Randolph told an investigator that she had placed her children in a locked car to teach them a lesson after the older one refused to get out of the vehicle and that she had believed they could get out on their own, according to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by the Star-Telegram this summer.

A Parker County prosecutor said that the charges are first-degree felonies and that if convicted, Randolph faces up to life in prison.

“The culpable mental state required for first-degree-felony injury to a child is that the defendant knowingly engaged in conduct that was reasonably certain to cause serious bodily injury or death,” Parker County Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain said in an email. “By comparison, to prove a murder or capital murder, it must be proven that the defendant specifically intended to cause the death of the child.”

Injury to a child bears the same punishment range and parole consequences as a murder charge, Swain said in the email.

Initially, Randolph told investigators several different versions of what happened on the afternoon of May 26.

But according to the arrest warrant, Randolph told an investigator that she became upset with Juliet because she would not get out of their 2010 Honda Crosstour. She cursed at her daughter and then locked the two children inside the car, thinking they would be able to get out of the car on their own, according to the affidavit, detailing her interview with Texas Ranger Jim Holland.

With the temperature inside the car quickly rising, Randolph went inside her house and smoked marijuana, then took a nap of two to three hours, according to a news release from the Parker County Sheriff’s Office.

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.

After waking up, Randolph began looking for the children and when she couldn’t find them, she went to the Honda, where she could see Juliet in the driver’s seat and Cavanaugh on the floorboard, according to the affidavit.

Randolph said that neither child was responding and all the doors were locked, so she broke the passenger side window and removed both children and rushed them inside, placing them on the kitchen table.

Randolph plugged her phone into a charger — she had left it in the car with the children — and called 911. Life Care Medics pronounced both children dead at the scene.

Randolph remained in the Parker County Jail on Sunday in lieu of $200,000 bail.

This report contains material from Star-Telegram archives.

Domingo Ramirez Jr.: 817-390-7763, @mingoramirezjr

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