Authorities say a Helena man was arrested after leaving two children strapped into car seats in the back of a burning vehicle.
Samuel Cecil Cole, 32, is jailed on a felony charge of criminal endangerment. On unrelated allegations of domestic violence, Cole faces two additional felonies of assault with a weapon and partner or family member assault, third or subsequent offense.
On Friday, sheriff's deputies responded to a report of a vehicle fire on Cupid Drive and met with a woman and her two children. The woman reported she and the children were in a vehicle being driven by Cole when the vehicle got stuck in snow, overheated and caught fire in the engine compartment, according to court documents.
"Upon realizing the vehicle was on fire the defendant informed the victim he needed to leave the area," the documents state. Cole then ran away.
Court documents do not say what happened to the children afterward.
While interviewing the woman about that incident, a deputy noticed a cut and bruising on her forehead. The woman said Cole caused the injuries three nights prior when he attacked her. Court documents say Cole became enraged when one of the children awoke in the night, and that he began to approach the child with a knife. The woman told deputies she intervened and received numerous cuts to her head, scalp and right leg.
Following that attack, earlier the same day as the vehicle fire, Cole struck the woman several times in the head at her home, court documents allege. After the interview, the woman was taken to the hospital for evaluation of her injuries.
Shortly after the vehicle fire, deputies caught up with Cole near the woman's home. During his arrest, a deputy found a knife on Cole that matched the description given by the woman, the documents state.