Three Children Found Living in Wooden Box in Desert


A couple was charged with child abuse after authorities found their three children living in a wooden box in a southern California desert.

It appeared the children - aged 11, 13 and 14 - had been living in the plywood structure for about four years, the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department said, and were not being sufficiently fed. They were taken into custody by Children and Family Services.

Officials located the parents, Mona Kirk and Daniel Panico, on the property and arrested them. The pair pleaded not guilty to felony charges of child abuse, with Mr Panico expressing bewilderment about being prosecuted.

“I am wondering why all this is happening,” Mr Panico said, according to the San Bernardino Sun.

Sheriff’s deputies patrolling the town of Joshua Tree stumbled upon the children after coming across an abandoned trailer surrounded by piles of trash and human faeces.

The property lacked electricity and running water, authorities said, and 30 to 40 cats were found roaming around the trailer.

The broad contours of the case recalled the discovery earlier this year of 13 children and young adults allegedly imprisoned in a house in Perris, a community a little over an hour away from Los Angeles.

Authorities said the parents of the Perris children had chained them and deprived them of food for years. They have pleaded not guilty to numerous charges of child abuse, false imprisonment and torture.