Mother arrested after 1 daughter found dead, another near death in parked car

TULALIP RESERVATION -- A 36-year-old Tulalip woman was arrested Monday on the Tulalip Reservation after her two young children were found alone inside a parked car in desperate need of medical attention.

On Thursday, Christina Carlson pleaded not guilty in tribal court to two charges of criminal endangerment and two counts of failure to care for a dependent person. Her bail was set at $75,000 and a trial date was set for Dec. 5.

The maximum sentence for endangerment and failure to care for a dependent person is up to one year in jail, a fine up to $5,000 and 18 months probation for each charge.

Wednesday, a memorial continued to grow several feet from where 18-month-old Chantel Craig was found dead.

"It hit the community a lot and right now we're praying for the father," Alvina Jimicum said. "It's impacted us a lot in this community."

Chantel was pronounced dead after arriving at the Providence Medical Center in Everett Monday night. Her 2-year-old sister, Juanita, remains in the hospital, authorities said.

Tulalip tribal police arrested the Carlson on investigation of child neglect and criminal endangerment. She has been booked into the Snohomish County Jail.

Carlson's friends said they became worried about the children after Carlson was asked to move out of an apartment complex that was boarded-up due to ongoing drug problems at the building.

"The kids should have been taken then," Jimicum said.

Instead, Carlson and the girls lived in her car — the same car where Chantel was found.

Police were called to the car about 4:45 p.m. Monday in the 1000 block of Marine Drive NE. The chairman of the Tulalip Tribes, Melvin Sheldon, also said the family had been living out of the vehicle. The youngest child appeared to be dead when police arrived, he said.

"I got a call from our chief of police who was at the scene and he shared with me that the youngest child... didn't make it," Sheldon said. "The 2-year-old they were going to get to the hospital as soon as possible and hopefully save that young lady's life."

Sheldon said it was unclear why the children were alone in the vehicle. But the mother had dealt with drug problems in the past, family members said, and was recently seen acting strangely.

"We've been seeing her around the bus stop without the kids and stuff for the past couple of days," said Susan Jimicum, a cousin to the father of the two young children.

Susan said the mother had left the children alone in the car before.

"She's been bouncing from house to house pretty much with them," she said. "And she left them in that car all the time."

Tulalip Tribe representatives said it will provide grief counseling and other services to family members of the children.

"My community is in shock over this, our hearts grieve for the family and the little girl who did not make it," Sheldon said. "And our prayers are going out for the young lady that she makes it."

Child Protective Services said recently investigated allegations that Carlson had abused Chantel, but they would not comment on why the case was closed.

Police are investigating the incident. The Everett Herald reported that FBI agents would offer assistance with the investigation.