By DREW TRIPP, WCIV
ROUND O, S.C. (CIRCA via WCIV) — Two adults in South Carolina are facing child neglect charges after Colleton County authorities say they found a filthy makeshift shelter in unlivable conditions in the woods.
Charlie Kidwell is in jail at the Colleton County Detention Center following his Jan. 3 arrest, according to the Colleton County Sheriff's Office. Deputies also arrested his wife, Virginia "Precious" Kidwell, this week. After a brief search, she and their five children were found at a home in Dorchester County, South Carolina. The kids are now in Department of Social Services custody. Their parents are facing charges of unlawful conduct toward a child.
The Kidwells' arrests came after Colleton County Sheriff Andy Strickland reportedly found the shelter and the deplorable living conditions last Thursday when responding to a report of a dog bite on Rowe Lane in Round O.
Strickland says animal control identified a small shed as the place where the dog and three others lived. He investigated the 12-foot-by-12-foot makeshift building and discovered beds covered with mold lining the walls and floors.
The shed had excessive leaks, cardboard boxes were used as insulation, numerous empty alcohol bottles were strewn about, expired food was all over the floor and bed linens were stained dark brown, according to the sheriff. He says there was also no running water, no electricity and no heat sources. He also discovered random chemicals, pans with rotting food, mounds of trash and an old car tire that was being used as a toilet.
A local neighbor identified two adults and five children who lived in the shed with the four dogs, according to Stickland.
The sheriff says suspect Charlie Kidwell then arrived on the scene, appeared to be disgruntled, and started asking why they were at his home.
Kidwell confirmed the shed was where he lived, and where his wife and their five children sometimes lived, Strickland said. KIdwell claimed the permanent address for his wife and kids was in Summerville, South Carolina, but Strickland says Kidwell could not recall an address. Kidwell declared he was a Mennonite and claimed under the tenets of his religion, he was not required to provide necessities to his family such as running water or electricity.
“We are a family that takes care of each other, and by each other, I mean community,” Strickland said.