Watch CBSN Live

Couple accused of sending 3 children into Calif. desert as punishment

TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- A homeless couple was arrested after the woman's three young children were punished by being sent into a California desert without shoes or water, authorities said Thursday.

The children -- a 7-year-old girl and 6- and 5-year-old boys -- did not require medical treatment Wednesday after a resident spotted them near a road and called 911, San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Cynthia Bachman said.

It was approximately 94 degrees at 11:22 a.m. when the children were located, CBS affiliate KESQ reported.

Deputies found the mother and her boyfriend a short distance away on the road near Twentynine Palms in the Mojave Desert about 130 miles east of Los Angeles.

The couple was within sight of the children, "but it was apparent they weren't keeping a visual on them," Bachman said.

She estimated the children had been wandering about 45 minutes. Officials haven't determined why the children were being punished. Bachman said the family had been living in a car.

The children were taken by the county's Child Support Services department.

Mary Bell, 34, and Gary Cassle, 29, were arrested on suspicion of child abuse, and bail was set at $100,000, Bachman said. Arraignment was scheduled Friday. Bachman didn't know if they had attorneys.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue