Police: California couple arrested after 3 children found living in plywood box

March 1 (Reuters) - A California couple have been arrested after sheriff deputies found they were living with their three children in a plywood box without running water or electricity for years, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said on Thursday.

Mona Kirk, 51, and Daniel Panico, 73, of Joshua Tree, California, were taken into custody on Wednesday and held in lieu of a $100,000 bail on suspicion of willful cruelty to a child charges, the sheriff said in a statement.

"The victims were found to have an inadequate amount of food and were living in an unsuitable and unsafe environment due to the conditions located on the property," the sheriff said.

The family lived in an 200-square-foot plywood box that was 4 feet tall for about four years. The property had no running water, electricity or heat and was covered with mounds of trash and human feces with dozens of cats found roaming outside and inside a travel trailer, the sheriff said. ‏ The Children and Family Services department took the three unidentified children - ages 11, 13, and 14 - into custody, the sheriff said.

"These children were not being held captive in a box; rather, the entire family was living in a very confined area," said Trevis Newport, a sheriff's captain, in a Tweet.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Teacher scandals, crimes and accusations throughout history
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Teacher scandals, crimes and accusations throughout history
Mary Kay LeTourneau, the former teacher who pleaded guilty to raping a 13-year-old student and then having a child from the affair. Le Tourneau would later marry the student, Vili Fualaau, and the two would have two daughters together.

(Reuters Photographer / Reuters)

John Mark Karr, is the teacher who falsely confessed to killing  child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey.

(AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

Debra Lafave pleaded guilty in 2005 to sexual encounters with one of her middle school students.

(Photo by Tim Boyles/Getty Images)

Tad Cummins, a former Tennessee high school teacher accused of kidnapping a teenage student and taking her from Tennessee to California.


(Courtesy SCSO/Handout via REUTERS)

Pamela Smart, a former high school media coordinator was convicted of enlisting several teenagers to murder her husband. 

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

Rachel Respess (L) and Shelley Dufresne, both high school teachers in Louisiana, were arrested in 2014 on suspicion of having group sex with a 16-year-old boy at one of the teacher's apartments, according to authorities.

(REUTERS/Kenner Police Department/Handout)

Samantha Lee Ciotta is accused of having a sexual relationship with an underage student while she was a high school English teacher and cheerleading coach at Beaumont High School in California. 

(Photo via Beaumont Police Department)

Former teacher James Hooker left his wife and children to  move in with his 18-year-old student, Jordan Powers. The two reportedly briefly broke up after Hooker was arrested on charges of sexual assault against another student back in 1998.

(Debbie Noda/Modesto Bee/MCT via Getty Images)

Christopher Paul Neil, a former teacher, is a convicted sex offender who gained notoriety for the digitally-distorted images of his face he posted online.

(Photo by Thierry Falise/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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