GREENACRES, Fla. - Two adults were arrested Sunday after a deputy found five malnourished children living in a vehicle in Florida, including a 14-year-old boy who weighed only 50 pounds, according to an arrest report.
Donell Barron, 34, and Rikki Hart, 34, are being held in the Palm Beach County Jail in lieu of $1,000 bail. Both are facing five counts of child neglect.
The relationship between Barron, Hart and the children — ages 14, 8, 6, 5 and 4 — is redacted in the police report.
A Palm Beach County sheriff's deputy found Barron, Hart and the five children inside a Toyota in the Walmart parking lot on Forest Hill Boulevard just east of Jog Road. The area is plagued by crime and narcotics activity, according to the report.
As the deputy approached the Toyota, he detected a strong odor "similar to that of homeless camps."
Barron told the deputy the family lost their home in Port St. Lucie a year ago and had lived at hotels until running out of money, forcing them to live inside the car for about two months. Barron said the children bathed irregularly at Okeeheelee Park and had never enrolled in school. Instead, the children were home-schooled inside the vehicle, Barron said.
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Each of the five children were termed in the report to be underweight, except for the 14-year-old who was "severely underweight to the point that his bones were clearly visible." The boy stands 4 feet 5 inches and weighed only 5 pounds more than his 8-year-old sibling, according to the report.
Deputies were told that the children ate about once a day and only salad and bread. The children had not seen a doctor in "years," the report said.
The children were taken to Palms West Hospital in Loxahatchee and are in the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families. Greenacres Fire Rescue personnel told deputies that one of the children — presumably the 14-year-old boy — was emaciated and had unusually high blood pressure for somebody his age and stature.
Court records from St. Lucie County show the family was evicted twice from residences in Port St. Lucie for failure to pay their rent, once in 2011 from a residence on Southeast Hillmoor Drive and again in 2013 from one on Southwest Ember Street.
The report states that, unlike the children, Barron and Hart seemed clean and in good health.
While being questioned by PBSO, Barron made a series of bizarre statements. Barron said he is Native American with a given name as well as a "corporate" name while adding that he is "not property of the U.S. or any corporation." Barron added that he practices law "but not as a lawyer."
The couple began a blog in 2014 called "Holistically Beautiful" in which they said they had "been coaching others to live balanced lives for 10 years." It included links to services regarding childbirth, health eating and managing personal finances.
Palm Beach Post staff researcher Melanie Mena contributed to this story.
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