The three minor children of Cleburne resident Ruth Bullard — who remains incarcerated at the Johnson County Jail on charges of arson and abandon/endanger children — will remain in foster care at least until December.
249th District Judge Wayne Bridewell on Monday extended a temporary order to keep the children under the temporary managing conservatorship of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
Bullard, 44, was not present during the hearing.
Child Protective Services caseworker Tywaski Herndon testified that the children — ages 15, 13 and 10 — have been doing well since they were placed in foster care in March.
Janet Whitten, a Court Appointed Special Advocates of Johnson County who is appointed to assist the children, agreed.
“They are very well taken care of and very happy,” she said. “I recommend they follow that until all the other issues are settled.”
The caseworker said DFPS has two concurrent goals for the children; one is to be placed with an uncle and the second is reunification with Bullard.
“[Bullard] hasn’t been able to participate in any services as she is in jail, but she is currently getting her mental health needs addressed and she is taking medication,” Herndon said.
The uncle, Jacob Brown of Corpus Christi, said he and his wife are willing and able to serve as a possible placement for the children.
Brown said he has come to Johnson County to visit with the children once a month. He said he plans to continue the monthly visits through the next permanency hearing, which is set for 9:30 a.m. Dec. 13.
Herndon said the children have had no visitation with their mother, but have been able to keep in touch by writing letters back and forth.
A pre-trial hearing has been set for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday for Bullard’s arson and abandon/endanger charges.
Bullard allegedly set her Cleburne house on fire at about 11 p.m. Feb. 25 while her three minor children and Brown were inside.
She remains jailed in lieu of $85,000 bond on a charge of arson and three of abandon/ endanger child or elderly victim.
The incident remains under investigation by the Texas Fire Marshal’s Office.
The children’s father died in 2017, according to court records.
CPS received two reports on Feb. 26 of alleged abuse and/or neglect of Bullard’s children.
According to the first report, Bullard intentionally set her house on fire on Feb. 25 in attempt to try to kill family members after the family got into an argument.
Bullard was “very intoxicated” at the time of the fire, according to reports. Bullard, according to the same report, often hits her children. The children have run away multiple times and beg not to go back home, according to reports.
According to the second report, the children told officials Bullard tried to kill them and was so intoxicated she could “hardly stand up.”
Bullard had set fires previously, according to reports, but family members managed to put them out.
One of Bullard’s older children observed smoke and a glow from underneath Bullard’s bedroom door when she arrived home that night, according to reports, and got her three younger siblings and grandmother safely out of the home.
Once everyone was out of the house they realized that Bullard was already in the backyard. Two of the children told investigators that Bullard was wearing shoes and a coat.
“It indicates that Ms. Bullard did not try and wake the children or help any of the family members get out of the house,” according to reports.
One of Bullard’s grown sons told investigators that Bullard poured gasoline on herself in October or November.
The same son told investigators that the younger children had developed a code word among themselves to warn each other on days Bullard was intoxicated and confrontational.
Cleburne firefighters responded at 11:24 p.m. Feb. 25 to Bullard’s house in the 600 block of Barber Avenue to find the home fully involved with flames showing from two sides.
Firefighters extinguished the blaze without problem but deemed the house a total loss.