A couple have been arrested in California after police discovered their three children living in a plywood box outside the family’s trailer. The box was filled with faeces, urine and trash and were discovered Thursday last week by Sheriff Deputies. San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department described in a press release how the three children, aged 11, 13 and 14, told the officers that they had been living there for four years.
The plywood box, made from spare materials the couple had lying around, was 20 feet long, 10 feet wide but only 4 feet high. Officers found the children after they stumbled upon what they thought was an abandoned trailer. The lot had no electricity, no running water, was filled with large holes, and was strewn with trash and scrap metal. There were also mounds of human faeces, and 30 to 40 cats living in the lot.
The deputies determined that the children were living in squalor and were being neglected, and they have now been placed into the custody of San Bernardino County Children and Family Services. The parents have also been named as Mona Kirk, 51, and Daniel Panico, 73 who are being charged with wilful cruelty to a child. There has been no comment on whether the cats were handed over to animal control.
Further details are yet to emerge but this would mark the second case in a few months where Californian children were imprisoned by their parents. The Turpin couple recently gained widespread attention after deputies discovered their children living in the basement, tied to their beds. Investigations soon revealed the children had been imprisoned for over a decade and were all severely malnourished and starved.
During their captivity they were subjected to psychological, physical and sexual abuse. Bizarrely, the Turpin parents maintained a social media presence complete with staged photographs of their family so they would appear healthy and happy to outsiders. Photos included weddings and trips to Disneyworld and made for a strange contrast to the hopeless squalor and destitution the children were forced to endure. Now the Turpins face decades in prison and hospital staff report that the children are recovering well, and have had garden areas provided for them to exercise and have even watched their first ever movie on an iPad.