SC mom of 13-year-old girl left to die in hot car is school teacher; relatives testify

State - Regional

COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Investigators arrested two people after a child was found dead inside a vehicle in Colleton County.

Colleton County officials identified 13-year-old Cristina Pangalangan, who died after being left inside a vehicle for several hours on Monday.

Investigators and Colleton County Fire Rescue responded to a residence on Low Country Highway following a tip about a child left in a vehicle. When they arrived, investigators determined the child was deceased.

Chief Barry McRoy with Colleton County Fire-Rescue said the victim was a 13-year-old child who had been locked in the car for at least two hours, possibly longer.

Colleton County Fire-Rescue responded to the home within eight minutes, but family members had already removed the child from the car when they arrived.

According to the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office, Rita Pangalangan and Larry King are charged with murder in connection to the child’s death. Both were denied bond Tuesday afternoon.

During the bond hearing, it was revealed Pangalangan is the mother of the 13-year-old victim.

In bond court, another daughter of Rita Pangalangan testified about the mother. She said, “We will all stand behind her and we all love her. She was just a good mom.”

That same daughter also testified in court about Larry King. She said, “I wasn’t raised with him, but I know he loved my sister, too.”

Kristin Hawk, an acquaintance of Rita Pangalangan, was also at bond court. Outside of the courtroom, she spoke with sister station News 2.

She said, “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.”

Records show Pangalangan is an early childhood education teacher with the Colleton County School District. In a statement Tuesday afternoon, the district said they are aware of an arrest by one of their employees.

“Based on this information, the district has placed teacher Rita Pangalangan on administrative leave, with full pay and benefits, effective immediately.”

The State Law Enforcement Division and Colleton County Sheriff’s Office are investigating.

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