In Weatherford, Texas, a mother is facing murder charges when she decided to “punish” her toddlers by locking them in a hot car for hours.
On May 26, 2017 at about 12:15 p.m., Cynthia Marie Randolph, 24, found her two children playing in her car–a 2010 Honda Crosstour. The daughter, Juliet, was 2, and the son, Cavanaugh, was 16 months. Weatherford is a rural area near Forth Worth, in Parker County, Texas.
She instructed the children to get out of the car, by using profanity. When the daughter refused, Randolph decided to “teach her a lesson,” according to court documents. She shut the car door on the children, believing, according the news release. that the daughter could get her, and her brother out when she was ready.
That was bad enough, but then Randolph went inside. She stayed inside, and then smoked marijuana. Then, she took a pot induced nap for about two to three hours.
When she woke up, she found her children in her vehicle. She realized that the children were unresponsive, and then broke the car window to make it look it had been an accident, and then called 9-1-1.
It was about 4 pm by that time. Police arrived to her home in the 200 block of Rambling Loop—a rural area just west of Lake Weatherford. They record that the mid-afternoon temperature outside had reached a sweltering 96 degrees by that time, and was even hotter inside the vehicle parked in the driveway. At about 4:30 pm, the children were pronounced dead at the scene.
Over the next several days under questioning, Randolph’s story changed several times. She first told the police she was folding laundry and watched TV, while the children played in an enclosed back porch area that was visible from the living. When she didn’t hear any noises for twenty to thirty minutes, she went to check on them. That was when she found that they had gone missing.
She said she had looked for them for over half an hour, and then found them in the car. One of the kids had her cell phone and her car keys, when she found them, according to her story. She claimed the children had locked themselves in, and without the keys, she had to break the window to get them. Which she did, but it was too late. When asked how long the children could have possibly been in there, she said, “No more than an hour.” But, even at that, at 95 degrees, the inside of a vehicle can heat to 140 degrees in just an hour, according to heatstroke.org. Heatstroke can begin when victim’s body temperature reaches 104 degrees.
In May and June of this year, numerous news outlets, including CNN, ran the story, as a cautionary tale to mothers. Mothers everywhere mourned with their proverbial sister on how something like that could happen, despite her best intentions. No one can be too careful. But, some, including investigators smelled rat.
“The question is, can a 2-year-old open a car door and a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old climb inside and lock it,” Parker County Sheriff’s Capt. Mark Arnett told CNN.
And that was the multi-million dollar question that led to multiple interviews, and shifting stories. The Sheriff’s department said Randolph “created several variations of the events which led to the death of her children.” In late June, Texas Rangers and an Texas-based FBI federal agent were called in to do final interviews. It was not until then, that her story unraveled, and she finally told the truth.
The children’s father, Richard Ramirez had not publicly said much on the matter. He only issued a short statement to the media, in which he thanked the police that brought justice. “Please send a thank you to the Parker County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Rangers from the Ramirez family,” he told CBS DFW. There is no word on the funeral or memorial.
Randolph is currently in police custody, facing two felony charges of injury to a child. She does not have a record with Child Protective Services, but given the severity of the case, and the narcotics involved, it is unlikely that this her her first negligent parenting incident. She being held at the Parker County Jail on a $200,000 bond. Authorities have declined to speak to the media about the case.