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S.C. sheriff: 5 children were living in filthy, makeshift shelter, tire used as toilet

Charlie Kidwell and Virginia Precious Kidwell (Colleton County Sheriff's Office).png

UPDATE: Deputies have arrested Virginia "Precious" Kidwell, and have placed all five children in Department of Social Services custody.

Two adults are facing child neglect charges, and authorities are searching for five juveniles, after Colleton County authorities say they found a filthy makeshift shelter in unlivable conditions.

Charlie Kidwell, 37, is in jail at the Colleton County Detention Center following his arrest Jan. 3, according to the sheriff's office. Deputies also have an arrest warrant out for Virginia "Precious" Kidwell. Both are facing charges of unlawful conduct toward a child.

Kidwell's arrest comes after Colleton County Sheriff Andy Strickland reportedly found the shelter and the deplorable living conditions when responding to a report of a dog bite on Rowe Lane in Round O.

Sheriff Strickland says Animal Control identified a small shed as the place where the dog and three others lived. He investigated the 12 ft. by 12 ft. 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, expired food on the floor, and bed linens 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 a old car tire that was being used as a toilet.

A local neighbor identified two adults and five children who lived the shed with the four dogs, according to Sheriff 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 "Precious" Kidwell and their five children sometimes lived, Sheriff Strickland says. He claimed the permanent address for "Precious" and the children was in Summerville, but Sheriff Strickland says he could not recall an address.

Kidwell declared his identified religion as Mennonite, and claimed he was not required to provide necessities to his family like running water or electricity, according to deputies.

“We are a family that takes care of each other and by each other I mean community,” said Sheriff Strickland.

Correction: The Colleton County Sheriff's Office originally stated the children were taken into protective custody by DSS. They have issued a correction, and say authorities are still searching for the children.

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