A 13-year-old girl with special needs died after allegedly being left in a hot car in South Carolina on Monday and now two people, including her mother, are in custody.
Investigators and the fire rescue department in Colleton County were called to a highway area on Monday evening after receiving a call about a child who was left in a car, according to the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office.
“Once on the scene, emergency responders found a 13-year-old girl lying on the ground next to a vehicle,” the office wrote. “Upon further investigation, the juvenile was declared deceased.”
The child may have been left unattended in the vehicle for five hours, WCIV in Charleston reports. A public information officer for the Colleton County Sheriff's Office confirmed to Oxygen.com that the child had special needs.
Two adults Rita Pangalangan, 49, and Larry King, 41, were at the scene where the child died. Pangalangan is the child’s mother, the sheriff's office confirmed to Oxygen.com. It appears King is in some sort of romantic relationship with Pangalangan. They were taken to the sheriff’s office headquarters for questioning before being arrested and charged with murder.
Bond was denied for both on Wednesday.
Another one of Pangalangan’s daughters, who was not identified, defended her mother in court, saying “we will all stand behind her and we all love her. She was just a good mom,” WCBC in Colleton County reports.
The same daughter also defended King.
“I wasn’t raised with him, but I know he loved my sister too,” she testified.
Another person, an acquaintance named Kristin Hawk, made comments to the contrary. Outside of the courtroom after the bond hearing, she told WCBC, “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.”
It’s not clear if either Pangalangan or King have lawyers who can speak for them at this time.
Pangalangan is an early childhood education teacher and as a result of this investigation, the Colleton County School District has reportedly put her on administrative leave.
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