Joshua Tree couple arrested after 3 kids found living in box for years, authorities say

JOSHUA TREE, Calif. (KABC) -- A Joshua Tree couple was arrested after San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies discovered their three children had been living in a large box for years, authorities said.

According to a statement from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, deputies went to a property in the 7000 block of Sunfair Road in Joshua Tree about 11 a.m. Wednesday for an area check when they found an apparently abandoned travel trailer and a large rectangular plywood box.

The property had no electricity or running water and mounds of trash and human feces were found throughout the property, the statement said. About 30-40 cats were found inside the trailer and roaming freely.

During the investigation, deputies discovered three children, 11, 13 and 14 lived in the plywood box, which measured about 20 feet long by 4 feet high and 10 feet wide, the statement said. The children told investigators they had been living in the box for about four years.

The victims were also found to have an inadequate amount of food. Children and Family Service responded to the location and took custody of the three victims.

Mona Kirk, 51, and Daniel Panico, 73, who investigators determined to be the parents of the children, were arrested and booked into the Morongo Basin Jail on suspicion of willful cruelty to a child.

They were being held in lieu of $100,000 bail the statement said.

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