Officials: Couple arrested for leaving 3 children in Mojave Desert as punishment

MORONGO BASIN, Calif., July 14 (UPI) — A Southern California couple have been arrested for allegedly leaving three young children without shoes or water in the scorching heat of the Mojave Desert, apparently as a form of punishment, authorities said Thursday.

Mary Bell, 34, and her boyfriend, Gary Cassle, 29, were both arrested by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office and face felony child abuse charges, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Officials said all three children were left in the desert town of Twentynine Palms, Calif., for disciplinary reasons. Exactly what they were being punished for was not clear.

Bell is the biological mother of the children, officials said. The kids — a 7-year-old girl, a 6-year-old boy and a 5-year-old boy — were rescued around 11:20 a.m. local time Wednesday after a driver passing by spotted them and called authorities.

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Investigators said the children had been outside in the desert for about 45 minutes with no shoes and no water. Meteorologists said the temperature would have been about 100 degrees at the time the kids were outside.

None of the children required medical attention, officials said, and are now in the custody of the state. The Times report cited a sheriff’s office spokeswoman as saying the couple and the children lived in a vehicle not far down the road from where the kids were found alone.

Bell and Cassle, who were put in jail on $100,000 bail, are scheduled to appear in court Friday.

Last month, a Japanese couple made news for leaving their 7-year-old boy alone for nearly an hour in a wooded forest as punishment. When they went back to retrieve him, he was gone.

The boy, found almost a week later, said he lost his way in the forest because he was crying so much.

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