California Mother Accused of Leaving 3-Year-Old Son With Plastic Bag Around Head While House Burned

A mother in California has been arrested on suspicion of placing a plastic bag over her 3-year-old son's head and tying his hands together while their house was on fire.

Maricela Magana Ruiz, 47, of Santa Paula, has been charged with felony child endangerment and arson after authorities were called to a blaze at her home in Bahia Circle at around 6:10 p.m. on Sunday, December 1.

Firefighters from the Ventura County Fire Department managed to extinguish the fire and rescue Ruiz, along with her young son. The pair were both taken to Santa Paula Hospital and treated for smoke inhalation.

A criminal investigation was launched after the scene of the fire was attended to by the Santa Paula Police Department and arson investigators from the Ventura County Fire Department.

During police interviews, it was determined that Ruiz had placed a plastic bag over her 3-year-old son's head and tied his hands together before placing him in a bedroom by himself while the downstairs living room was on fire.

"Her motive is unknown and the investigation is ongoing," the Santa Paula Police Department said in a statement.

Police Chief Matthew Rodriguez told KTLA that the suspect had made several calls, including to her father, before dialing 911. She informed the operator that her son was tied up inside the home, which promoted a large scale operation.

"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.

Her father also went to the home after being called by the suspect, along with one other family member.

Ruiz was later booked at the Ventura County Jail. According to KTLA, the suspect had originally tried to post her own bail. Her bail was then increased to $500,000 after detectives said she may have caused the fire herself.

Online records show Ruiz is still in custody ahead of her next court appearance on Wednesday, December 4.

According to the Ventura County Star, the 3-year-old boy was handed over to the custody of Child Protective Services, who will determine a permanent placement.

Rivera added he "would not be surprised" if additional charges were brought against Ruiz after the police gather more evidence from the scene of the fire.

The Santa Paula Police Department did not immediately respond for a request for further comment.

The investigation regarding the origin of the fire is on-going. For additional information call Detective Sergeant Allen Macias at 805-525-4474 Ext 220, or email at

Maricela Magana Ruiz
Maricela Magana Ruiz has been charged with child endangerment and arson following the fire at her California home. Santa Paula Police Department