Woman Charged With Arson, Child Abuse After 3-Year-Old Son Tied up in Burning Santa Paula Home

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Marcela Magana Ruiz is seen in a photo released by the Santa Paula Police Department on Dec. 2, 2019.
Marcela Magana Ruiz is seen in a photo released by the Santa Paula Police Department on Dec. 2, 2019.

A woman was charged Wednesday after investigators say she tied up her 3-year-old son and set their Santa Paula home on fire over the weekend.

Marcela Magana Ruiz, 47, faces one felony count each of arson and child abuse in connection with the Sunday blaze, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

Police say the boy had a plastic bag over his head and hands bound, alone in a bedroom, while his mother was tied to a bed in a separate room at the Bahia Circle residence.

Both the mother and child were hospitalized and treated for smoke inhalation.

“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,” Santa Paula Police Chief Matthew Rodriguez told KTLA earlier this week.

Rodriguez said authorities responded to the home because Ruiz had called multiple people, including her father, before phoning 911 to report she was tied up.

Ruiz was arrested at the scene and booked at Ventura County Jail. She remained in custody Wednesday on $550,000 bond, inmate records show.

Officials said she had tried to bail out before detectives found evidence she may have sparked the fire, resulting in an increased bond.

Investigators have not released a motive, but Rodriguez said they were looking into the possibility the violence stemmed from a domestic dispute over child custody.

Prosecutors say Ruiz is also being accused of a serious crime “strike,” which limits custody credits, and faces up to 9 years 4 months in prison.

The defendant is scheduled to return to court Dec. 13 for an early disposition conference.

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