A Texas mother faces a potential life sentence for her responsibility in the death of her two toddlers, who died after being locked in a hot car.
Prosecutors say that Cynthia Marie Randolph, 25, left her 2-year-old daughter Juliet and her 16-month-old son Cavanaugh locked inside her car in May. Randolph was trying to teach her children a lesson and was punishing Juliet for not coming out of the car when asked, according to Daily Mail.
Leaving the children trapped in her hot car, Randolph allegedly went inside the house to smoke marijuana and take a nap. She figured that the children would leave the car on their own when they were ready.
Both children were later found dead.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children are less able to regulate their internal body temperatures than adults and are more susceptible to the effects of heatstroke. Children left in a hot car without any air conditioning can die of heatstroke quickly. When outside temperatures reach 80 degrees, the inside of a car can hit fatal temperatures of 110 degrees in 20 minutes.
The outside temperature was around 96 degrees Fahrenheit on the day of the toddlers' deaths, Daily Mail reports. Randolph was charged with two counts of first-degree injury to a child causing serious bodily injury.
Randolph initially lied to investigators about what happened, claiming that she was inside the house doing chores when the children entered the car and locked themselves inside. To further mislead police, the young mother broke the windows of her car to make it seem like she attempted to rescue her children.
"She thought maybe they were playing hide-and-seek or something," Parker County Sheriff's Capt. Mark Arnett told KXAS when news of the children's death first broke. "So she started searching the house. When she didn't find them, she started searching the property, and that's when she found them located in the car."
Police were skeptical that a 2-year-old and a 16-month-old could enter a car on their own and lock themselves inside. After a month of investigating, they confirmed that Randolph was lying and that she actually locked the children in the car herself.
"Everybody's distraught, it's just horrible," said relative Raymond Ramirez on the toddlers' deaths. "Being so young, you don't have any words."
Randolph is currently imprisoned in Parker County Jail awaiting her next court hearing.
Sources: Daily Mail, American Academy of Pediatrics, KXAS / Featured Photo: houstondwiPhotos mp/Flickr / Embedded Photos: Parker County Sheriff's Office via Daily Mail, GoFundMe via Daily Mail