JOSHUA TREE, Calif. — Southern California authorities say a family of five was discovered living in a squalid desert shack and the parents were arrested for investigation of child cruelty.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department says the ramshackle shelter was spotted Wednesday during a check of an area near Joshua Tree, about 125 miles east of Los Angeles.

The dwelling cobbled together with plywood and plastic sheeting was only about 4 feet high, 10 feet wide and 20 feet long, and mounds of trash and human feces were nearby. Authorities say the family had been living there for about four years.

The county’s Department of Children and Family Services took charge of three children, ages 11, 13 and 14.

Deputies booked 73-year-old Daniel Panico and 51-year-old Mona Kirk into jail.

Authorities say the couple, their 3 teenage children and 30-40 cats were living in the structure with no electricity or running water. San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office via AP

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