The five children who were living in a filthy shed in the Lowcountry have been located, and their parents are facing multiple child abuse charges, according to authorities.
The children and their mother, Precious Kidwell, were found at a home in Dorchester County, the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Tuesday. Kidwell is charged with five counts of unlawful conduct toward a child.
All five children were turned over to the custody of the S.C. Department of Social Services, the sheriff’s office said.
Sheriff R.A. Strickland was called by animal control to a home on Rowe Lane on Thursday about a dog bite reported earlier in the day, according to a Monday news release from the sheriff’s office. Deputies found a building that was barely visible because of the debris covering the area, including “mass amounts” of clothing hanging from rope tied to almost every tree around it.
Inside the 12-by-12 makeshift building, deputies found filthy conditions including loft beds lining the floor and walls that were covered in mold because of leaks in the building; cardboard boxes lining the walls; bed linen and pillows that were stained dark brown; and empty alcohol containers and stale food on the floor, according to the release.
There was no running water for bathing or drinking in the shed and no electricity, according to the sheriff’s office. The area around the shed was cluttered with children’s toys, random chemicals, cookware filled with rotting food, mounds of trash and an old car tire full of fecal matter from being used as a toilet.
A neighbor told investigators that five children and two adults live in the shed along with four animals, according to the release. The man who claimed the shed was his, Charlie Kidwell, arrived at the scene disgruntled and asked lawmen why they were there.
Charlie Kidwell told deputies he, his wife and their kids “sometimes live there,” the release states. He added that his wife and children permanently live in Summerville but could not recall the address when questioned about it.
Deputies initially charged Charlie Kidwell with one count of unlawful conduct toward a child; however, he now faces four additional counts, the sheriff’s office said Tuesday.
The charge carries up to 10 year in prison, under South Carolina law.
Strickland applauded the efforts of his investigations division in locating the children.
“We can all sleep better now knowing they have clean clothes, running water and are in the hands of people who have their best interest at heart,” the sheriff said.