Joshua Tree Couple Whose Kids Were Living In A Box Released


The Joshua Tree couple who were arrested after authorities found them raising their three children in squalor have been released from custody. 

Mona Kirk, 51, and Daniel Panico, 73, were released today after the District Attorney determined the pair were not a flight risk, or a danger to the community. 

The pair were arrested last week after a sheriff's deputy found their three children wandering a remote piece of property near Joshua Tree that had no running water or electricity. 

The three children, ages, 11, 13, and 14, had been living out in the desert in a ramshackle shelter which was only 4 feet high and 10 feet wide. A spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County said Panico would either sleep in a trailer with dozens of cats, or in another vehicle. 

Deputies discovered the children wandering the property last week while they were conducting a wellness check. The three children didn't appear to have any injuries, and didn't show any signs of malnutrition after living in the desert for the last four years. 

Children and Family Services responded to the location and took custody of the three children last week. 

Friends and neighbors of the couple say the children while impoverished, weren't being mistreated. They say the children built the box, which they called a "fort," and were proud of their dwelling and loved sleeping there. 

A neighbor told ABC 7 that the couple had lost their home in the recession, but owned the land they were living on. 

Photos: San Bernardino County Sheriff


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