Seven children between the ages of one and 10 were found living in deplorable conditions in a Berkeley County, South Carolina home on Wednesday afternoon. The parents of five of those children have been arrested and charged with five counts of unlawful conduct toward a child.
The kids were discovered when a property manager showed up at the house on Wednesday for an inspection. He said he’d given the residents several weeks’ notice before his arrival.
According to the local NBC News affiliate, the manager said he went upstairs and found two bedrooms deadbolted. When he heard a child say, “Let me out, I’m hungry,” the manager called 911.
When police arrived on the scene, they found all the bedrooms deadbolted. The doors were missing handles, and a camera was found in each room.
Deputies said the rooms were filled with trash, an unknown number of caged animals, and human and animal feces. Diana Salbon, the mother of five of the children, told police her kids all shared the same double bed.
Officers said the smell was unbearable.
Salbon and her husband, Erik Perez-Viera, were arrested at the scene. The mother of the other two children, who was subletting the bedrooms to Salbon and Perez-Viera, has not been charged at this time.
A neighbor told NBC News he’d been suspicious when he saw a bunch of people coming and going from the house. “Every once in a while, you’d see a young child or two,” the neighbor said. “In the morning, construction vehicles would pull up, young men would run out of the house, get in and take off.”
A total of 12 people were living in the house. In addition to the seven children and the three parents, there was a couple living in the garage, which had been converted into a bedroom.
All seven children have been placed in custody with the Department of Social Services.