California: Mother, Boyfriend Abandon Three Children In Mojave Desert As ‘Punishment’

Mary Bell and her boyfriend, Gary Cassle, were arrested after abandoning three young children, with no shoes or water, in the searing heat of the Mojave Desert in California.

According to a statement by Sheriff John McMahon of the San Bernardino Sheriff’s department, two boys, aged 5 and 6, and a 7-year-old girl were abandoned in the desert, reportedly for “disciplinary purposes,” by Bell and Cassle. The children were found with bare feet and no water in the Mojave Desert on the morning of July 13. Police have not supplied the reason for the children’s punishment.

According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, a passing motorist reportedly spotted the children and immediately contacted the county deputies, who found the three siblings alone in the desert, close to the town of Twentynine Palms, around 130 miles east of Los Angeles.

According to a report by Todd Lericos, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, at the time the children were found by the officers, temperatures would have already soared to 100F and by that stage the children had already been wandering around alone for approximately 45 minutes.


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Reportedly the area where the children found is near the 74000 block of Samarkand Drive, a residential road at the edge of a patch of vacant land around the size of three city blocks. The area is extremely remote and rugged and a tract in Twentynine Palms is being used for military training, including a reconstructed mid-eastern desert town for troops being deployed overseas.

According to a press statement by sheriff’s department spokeswoman Cindy Bachman, the county deputies found the mother and her boyfriend a short distance down the road in a car that is reportedly serving as the family’s home.

According to Bachman, the couple was within sight of the children, “but it was apparent they weren’t keeping a visual on them.”

The children’s mother, Mary Bell, 34, and her boyfriend Cassle, 29, have since been charged with felony child endangerment and abuse. The pair is being held in the Morongo Basin Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Meanwhile the three children have been placed with county family services and fortunately needed no medical treatment. According to Lericos, the young and old are particularly vulnerable to the effects of long-term exposure to such heat.

The story of the three children, abandoned in the desert, brings to mind a similar recent story, where a seven-year-old boy in Japan was abandoned by his parents in a bear-infested forest as a punishment for throwing rocks at cars. According to a report by the Inquisitr, when he was found in an empty Japanese military base, Yamato Tanooka was dehydrated and mildly suffering from malnutrition.

The boy’s parents initially said he disappeared while foraging for vegetables, but later admitted to abandoning him on the side of the road on a slope of Mount Komagatake. In that case, authorities in Japan did not file charges against the parents.

[Photo via Flickr by Meriol Lehmann | Cropped and Resized | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]