JOSHUA TREE, Calif. (AP) – A Southern California couple was arrested on suspicion of child cruelty after deputies found them living in a cramped and filthy desert shack with their three kids and dozens of cats, authorities said Thursday.

Deputies noticed the ramshackle shelter Wednesday afternoon while conducting a check of the area near Joshua Tree east of Los Angeles, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

The dwelling cobbled together with plywood and plastic sheeting was only about 4 feet high and 10 feet wide, officials said. Two adults and three children, ages 11, 13 and 14, were living along with about 40 cats in the confined area on a property without electricity or running water, said Captain Trevis Newport.

Mounds of trash and human feces were nearby, according to a statement.

Daniel Panico, 73, and Mona Kirk, 51, could face charges including willful cruelty to a child. It wasn’t known if they have attorneys.

The county’s Department of Children and Family Services took custody of the three kids.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press.


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