Mary Francis Bell and Gary Christopher Cassle
TWENTYNINE PALMS – San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies, alerted by three small children stranded in the desert, arrested the mother and her boyfriend on Wednesday.
The children, a 7-year-old girl and her younger brothers aged six and five, were being punished for reasons not yet determined by authorities.
Mary Francis Bell, 34, and Gary Christopher Cassle, 29, were arrested on felony charges of inflicting injury on a child, each held on $100,000 bail at the Morongo Basin Jail. Both were scheduled for Morongo Superior Court appearances on Friday.
All three children were discovered on Wednesday before noon, having been left in the desert heat for about 45 minutes without shoes or water. A resident tipped off authorities.
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Cynthia Bachman said the mother and her boyfriend were “down the road from the children.” They were taken into custody at Broad Avenue and Amboy Street.
Temperatures were just short of 100 degrees with the day’s heat getting higher on the thermometer. It was not clear how long the adults were going to leave the children in that location.
When the children were discovered, according to reports, they did not need medical attention. They were found on the 74-100 block of Samarkand Drive, near open desert territory, surrounded mostly by desert terrain and sand.
Bachman said the children and the adults were homeless, living in a truck. They were described as “local transients.”
Cassle apparently has a previous criminal record, including convictions for disturbing the peace, driving without a valid license and being drunk in public.
The children were taken into protective custody.