Tied-up Toddler With Plastic Bag Over His Head Rescued From Burning Santa Paula Home; Mom Arrested: Police

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A woman was arrested after allegedly putting a plastic bag over her 3-year-old son’s head and tying him up as their Santa Paula home burned over the weekend, police said Monday.
Maricela Magana Ruiz is seen in a photo released by the Santa Paula Police Department on Dec. 2, 2019.
Maricela Magana Ruiz is seen in a photo released by the Santa Paula Police Department on Dec. 2, 2019.
Firefighters initially found the woman tied to a bed when they responded to a structure fire at a home on Bahia Circle about 6:10 p.m. Sunday, according to the Santa Paula Police Department. While extinguishing the blaze in the downstairs living room, crews rescued the toddler who had been left alone in another bedroom. The boy had a plastic bag over his head and his hands were bound, a police news release stated. Firefighter transported both the mother and child to a local hospital where they received treatment for smoke inhalation. After the blaze was put out, detectives and arson investigators were dispatched to the scene. Police interviewed the woman, 47-year-old Maricela Magana Ruiz, and then arrested her. They determined Ruiz had placed the bag over the child’s head and tied his hands before situating him in the bedroom by himself, according to the release. Police Chief Matthew Rodriguez told KTLA the woman had called several people, including her father, and then dialed 911 and told the operator that she was tied up, which prompted a large law enforcement response. Her father rushed to the house and managed to get inside along with another family member, according to the chief. “The little boy actually was frightened and he exited the bedroom where he had been placed alone in an attempt to save himself and his mother,” Rodriguez said. Ruiz was booked on suspicion of felony child endangerment and arson. She is being held at the Ventura County Jail on $500,000 bail, according to Santa Paula police Detective Christopher Rivera. Ruiz attempted to post bail before detectives found evidence that she may have set the fire, Rivera said. Her bail was increased and she remained in custody Monday evening. A motive was not immediately known. Detectives are looking into the possibility the incident was related to a domestic dispute over child custody, Police Chief Matthew Rodriguez said. Investigators are also trying to determine if the blaze was intentionally set. Austin Daniel, who lives two doors down from Ruiz, told KTLA her family kept to themselves in the typically quiet neighborhood. Police have not released any additional information.

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