A South Carolina mother and her boyfriend were charged with murder for allegedly leaving the woman’s 13-year-old disabled daughter for at least two hours on Monday afternoon, killing her.
In a news release posted to Facebook, the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office said police and fire crews responded to Lowcountry Highway in Ruffin after receiving a call regarding a child left in a car. While the statement said the girl was discovered outside of the vehicle, some local media outlets reported that she was still in the car when emergency crews arrived. Further, the police statement doesn’t explain how they believe she got out of the vehicle.
WYFF reported that mother Rita Pangalangan, 49, and her boyfriend, Larry King, 41, possibly took the girl out of the vehicle upon discovering her unresponsive. The 13-year-old was reportedly pronounced dead at the scene.
Pangalangan and King were accused of intentionally leaving the child in the car. Citing a police report, WYFF reported that the pair checked on the girl twice before realizing the doors were locked and leaving to get a spare key. They reportedly claimed to police that she was dead by the time they returned to unlock the doors at 4:15 p.m.
— Harve Jacobs (@policereporter) August 7, 2019
According to WCSC, the Colleton County Coroner’s Office identified the deceased teen as Cristina Pangalangan. Her mother reportedly works as a teacher for the Colleton County School District.
The Associated Press and a parent of one of Rita Pangalangan’s former students described Cristina Pangalangan as a teen with special needs.
“Rita has always kinda been slack, but I never thought it would come to this. She has left the child home by herself to go to the bar and something should have been done weeks ago,” an acquaintance told WBCD outside of court on Tuesday.
Conflicting reports stated that Cristina Pangalangan was left in the car anywhere from two to five hours. Temperatures in Ruffin reportedly reached 91 degrees between 2 and 4 p.m. on Monday.
So far, 26 children have died this year of vehicular heatstroke, according to NoHeatStroke.org.
Rita Pangalangan and King were denied bond during a Tuesday afternoon court hearing. Authorities haven’t disclosed why they believe the couple deliberately left the child in the car.
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[Featured image: Rita Pangalangan, Larry King/Colleton County Sheriff’s Office]