Sheriff’s deputies in California were conducting an area check Wednesday when they came upon a large, rectangular box made of plywood – and found three children living near mounds of trash and human feces.
The box was on a property that had neither running water nor electricity and was surrounded by large holes, police said. There were also 30 to 40 cats inside a travel trailer and roaming freely, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said.
Police said deputies found that three children – age 11, 13 and 14 – had been living in the large plywood box for about four years. The box measured about 20 feet long, 4 feet high and 10 feet wide. The children, police said, were found with “an inadequate amount of food and were living in an unsuitable and unsafe environment.” Children and Family Service responded and took custody of the children.
The parents, Mona Kirk, 51, and Daniel Panico, 73, were arrested on charges of willful cruelty to a child. Their bail was set at $100,000. It is not clear whether the couple has an attorney or when they will appear in court.
Cindy Bachman, San Bernardino Sheriff spokeswoman, said Panico was living in the trailer while Kirk was living in the box with the three children.
Bachman said the children did not require any medical attention and deputies were not aware of any other abuse.
San Bernardino County Capt. Trevis Newport said in a tweet that the children were not being held captive in the box, but the family was living in a confined area without running water, electricity or heat.
CNN’s Cheri Mossburg contributed to this report.