San Bernardino County deputies received a disturbing call Wednesday: Three young children were wandering around a Twentynine Palms-area desert. When they arrived on the scene around 11:30am, one of the hottest parts of the day (KESQ notes it was around 94 degrees; the New York Daily News says temps hit 104 on Wednesday), they found two boys, ages 6 and 5, and their 7-year-old sister all alone without shoes or anything to drink, the Desert Sun reports. Even more disturbing: Their mom and her boyfriend allegedly left them there as a form of punishment.
The children had endured the desert heat for about 45 minutes by the time they were found. Mary Bell, 34, and Gary Cassle, 29, who were said to be living in their car just down the road from where the kids were discovered, were arrested and charged on suspicion of felony child abuse. They're now being held in the Morongo Basin Jail on $100,000 bond, per a San Bernardino Sheriff's Department release. The kids are now with Children and Family Services. (Cops say an Arizona man left his 5-year-old granddaughter in the desert with a loaded gun.)