South Florida couple arrested after malnourished children found living in car in Walmart parking lot
Donell Barron, Rikki Hart face child neglect charges
GREENACRES, Fla. – A South Florida couple faces child neglect charges after a deputy found five malnourished children living in a car in a Walmart parking lot, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.
Donell Barron, 34, and Rikki Hart, 34, were arrested Saturday.
According to their arrest reports, a deputy found Barron, Hart and the five children in a Toyota in the Walmart parking lot on Forest Hill Boulevard.
As the deputy approached the car, he detected a strong odor "similar to that of homeless camps," the deputy wrote in the report.
Barron, who was in the driver's seat, told the deputy that his family lost their home in Port St. Lucie a year ago and had been living in hotels until their money ran out. Barron said he and the children have been living in the car for the last two months, the deputy wrote.
All five children, ranging in age from 4 to 14, were deemed underweight. The deputy wrote that the 14-year-old was "severely underweight to the point that his bones were clearly visible."
The deputy noted that Barron appeared to be freshly shaven, was in overall good health and had clean clothes. The deputy said Hart also appeared to be in good health and had no signs of malnutrition.
Barron told the deputy that he feeds the children about once a day and said they haven't seen a doctor in "years," the deputy wrote.
The children were taken to a hospital and provided with food from McDonald's. The deputy said the children "ravenously ate the meals, as if they had not been fed in quite a while."
Barron and Hart were arrested and booked into the main Palm Beach County jail, where they were each being held on $1,000 bonds.
The children were placed in the care of the Department of Children and Families.
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