A couple from Joshua Tree, California, were arrested Thursday on suspicion of willful cruelty to their children after police discovered three children living in a makeshift plywood hut without electricity or running water.
The parents, Daniel Panico and Mona Kirk, live nearby in a camper trailer on a property strewn with trash and feces and also inhabited by 30 cats. The children, ages 14, 13, and 11, said they have lived in the hut for four years but were not held captive. They were placed in foster care and reportedly do not appear malnourished.
Friends of the family told the Los Angeles Times for a story Friday the parents are not abusive but simply "don't want handouts." "I know this looks like crap," said one such friend, Jackie Klear. "But [the children] were very well taken care of" and "very much loved."