(SUMMERVILLE, S.C.) -- Two people were arrested after authorities found two of their children locked in a South Carolina home littered with feces, trash and small animals in cages, according to police.
Seven children were taken into protective custody in Summerville, South Carolina, on Wednesday afternoon when an inspector came by and found two children, ages 3 and 5, alone, hungry and locked inside a bedroom that had been dead-bolted shut, according to the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office.
At the time, four other children who also live in the home were at school and another was at a doctor's appointment. After further investigation, police discovered that there were at least three adults living in the residence, according to the sheriff's office, which described the living conditions as "horrific."
"The conditions were just deplorable for children to be living in," Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis said at a press conference Thursday. "It's sad to see people allow this to happen to their own children."
Parents Diana Salbon, 26, and Erick Perez-Viera, 22, were charged on Wednesday with five counts of unlawful conduct toward children. They could face as many as 10 years for each count.
A third person, whom police said was renting a portion of the home to the couple, was not arrested, but authorities also took her two children into protective custody as authorities mulled possible charges.
Neighbors said the couple had been living there for at least a year and were often cited for leaving trash on the sidewalks.
"Multiple cars in and out, always parked on the streets. ... They have multiple fines for having stuff on the street, on the curb. We're not supposed to have those parked in the road. After hours they've had multiple fines with that, and with them renting the fines go to the actual homeowners," Meagan Quals, a neighbor, told ABC affiliate WCIV-TV.
"To see that this is one of our neighborhood kids locked away it's, it's heartbreaking," Quals added.
Detectives were still interviewing witnesses and working to determine charges on the renter living downstairs. The office said it was grateful that the inspector spoke up about his concerns.
"We're very thankful and appreciative to the home inspector that realized after getting inside that something was wrong. These two children were left alone in this house, locked inside of a bedroom that was just in terrible living conditions," Lewis said. "I'm thankful for this home inspector that he was just there that day to do his job and reported this information to us in a timely fashion."
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