The hot-car deaths of two Texas toddlers in late May have been ruled homicides — the result, investigators allege, of their mother leaving them locked in her vehicle to teach them “a lesson.”
Two-year-old Juliet Ramirez and her 1-year-old brother, Cavanaugh, were found unresponsive on May 26 outside their home in in Parker County, Texas, and pronounced dead about 30 minutes later, authorities have said.
The medical examiner in nearby Tarrant County recently determined that their deaths were homicides as a result of heatstroke.
Authorities arrested the children’s 24-year-old mother, Cynthia Randolph, in June and charged her with two counts of causing bodily injury to a child with intent.
It is unclear if the medical examiner’s ruling will result in upgraded charges. (Prosecutors did not immediately return a call seeking comment.)
Police alleged that Randolph initially claimed the children “took off” and locked themselves inside her small vehicle, forcing her to break a window in an attempt to save them, according to the arrest affidavit obtained by PEOPLE.
But that story gave way to other accounts of what happened, before Randolph eventually revealed that she had found her children playing in the vehicle and left them inside after her daughter refused to leave, the affidavit claims.
Randolph “shut the car door to teach her daughter a ‘lesson,’ thinking, ‘she could get herself and her brother out of the car when ready,’ ” police alleged in the affidavit.
She allegedly “then told investigators she went into her home, smoked marijuana and went to sleep for two to three hours,” authorities wrote.
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Randolph also admitted to breaking the car window to “make it look like an accident,” authorities claim.
Temperatures that day reached 96 degrees — the hottest at that point in the year, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Randolph remains in jail on $200,000 bond and has not yet entered a plea.
She is represented by the public defender’s office. Her attorney did not return PEOPLE’s call for comment.