SANDPOINT, Idaho – Sheriff's deputies have recovered ammunition and five guns amid the feces-strewn squalor where the six McGuckin children lived in the north Idaho woods.
The arrest of their mother, JoAnn, last week prompted the children to hole up in the ramshackle home for five days, keeping officials at bay with the help of their 27 dogs. The children surrendered to sheriff's deputies Saturday and were taken to a hospital.
A hearing was scheduled Tuesday to determine if they should remain in state custody or be returned to her care.
JoAnn McGuckin, 46, was arrested on a felony child neglect charge. But on Monday Judge Barbara Buchanan said she would release her if McGuckin agreed to not violate custodial orders involving six of her children and not to contact them without authorization.
McGuckin's lawyer, Bryce Powell, told the judge his client would not accept the conditions.
``My client demands dismissal of the charges and child protection proceedings and an apology,'' Powell said. ``She will not leave the jail at this time.''
Robinson has refused to apologize or drop the charge. The state asserts McGuckin failed to provide the children with adequate food and shelter.
During their initial search of the property on Monday, prosecutor Phil Robinson said Bonner County sheriff's deputies recovered the firearms and found a house littered with dog feces.
Detectives also found a full bucket in the bathroom that the children were using as an indoor toilet after the home's water was shut off, he said, adding the stench was overwhelming.
Tuesday's hearing will determine where the children will stay for the next 30 days. A decision on where they will live after that is to follow.
The judge has the options of returning the children to their mother, retaining them in state custody or sending them to live with their mother under regular state scrutiny.
The McGuckins lost their home to a county tax sale last September. The current owner has asked authorities to keep the family out, Robinson said.
The children — Kathryn, 16; Benjamin, 15; Mary, 13; James, 11; Frederick, 9; and Jane, 8 — initially feared authorities would split up the family but they have been assured they will be able to stay together.
Their father, Michael McGuckin, died May 12. The family became increasingly reclusive and had money troubles after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. His death was attributed to dehydration and malnutrition, complicated by his illness.
Animal control officers on Monday managed to capture four of the released dogs. One officer was bitten in the leg by one of the dogs, which were taken to an animal shelter. The Humane Society will care for the animals and they will not be destroyed, authorities said.