Couple Arrested After Deputies Find 3 Children Living in Box Near Joshua Tree

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A Southern California couple is facing child cruelty charges after deputies found their three children in a box on a property in Joshua Tree.

Mona Kirk, 51, and Daniel Panico, 73, were arrested after deputies discovered the children in a small box on a disheveled property after 11 a.m. Wednesday in the 7000 block of Sun Fair Road in Joshua Tree.

Deputies found the children — ages 11, 13 and 14 — in a rectangular box made of plywood on the property. The box was about 20 feet long by 4 feet high and 10 feet wide, officials said.

Deputies said they found several large holes, mounds of trash and human feces around the desert property, which had no electricity or running water.

Authorities also found up to 40 cats roaming freely around the property.

Deputies said the victims have lived in the large rectangular box for about four years.

The children “were living in an unsuitable and unsafe environment,” authorities said. The children were taken into protective custody. Kirk and Panico were booked into the Morongo Basin Jail.

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