Joshua Tree Case: 3 Children Allegedly Found Living in a Box in the California Desert

- Inside Edition Staff

A California couple has been arrested  on child cruelty charges after cops say they found their three kids living in a box in the desert.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement that deputies arrived to a plot of land in Joshua Tree on Wednesday when they found an apparently abandoned trailer and large rectangular box made of plywood.

Three victims ages 11,13 and 14 were discovered living on the property along with their parents, 51-year-old Mona Kirk and 73-year-old Daniel Panico, according to police.

The property lacked all running water and was covered in trash and human feces, police said, adding that inside the abandoned trailer, there were 30 to 40 cats roaming freely.

Cops allege the children were living with an inadequate amount of food in an unsuitable and unsafe environment.

While Kirk and Panico were arrested for willful cruelty to a child, a neighbor told CBS Los Angeles they aren't criminals.

"We're in the desert. People come up here to get away from it all," the neighbor, Mike Reynolds, said. "People come up here to live off of the grid."

Children and Family Service responded to the location and took custody of the three victims. 

Kirk and Panico are being held in lieu of $100,000 bail. 

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