Society

Couple Living In Car Arrested For 'Starving' Five Kids

| by Denise Recalde

A couple has been charged with child neglect after a sheriff's deputy came across five malnourished children inhabiting a car parked outside a Wal-Mart store. 

Donnell Barron and Rikki Hart, both 34, were arrested by police Dec. 18 outside the retail store in Greenacres, Florida, the Palm Beach Post reports.

A report of the arrest states the deputy peered inside the Toyota after discerning a strong odor "similar to that of homeless camps."

The deputy learned from Barron that the family had been living in motels after losing their home but ran out of money two months earlier.

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Barron also stated the kids bathed at a nearby park. 

The police did not disclose the relationship between the couple and the children, ages 4, 5, 6, 8, and 14. 

Officials say the children exhibit signs of malnourishment; the 14-year-old boy's bones "were clearly visible" to police. Reportedly, the teen weighed just 5 pounds more than the 8-year-old and had uncommonly high blood pressure. 

The children hadn't had their health checked by a doctor in years and only ate bread and salad once a day, the authorities said.   

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For missing rent payments, Barron and Hart had been evicted twice in the last five years from Port St. Lucie lodgings. 

The couple operates a blog named Holistically Beautiful for "those interested in a holistic and balanced lifestyle."

On the blog, Barron states he has a "Master's Degree in Rehab Science/Substance Abuse" and Hart says she has her "Bachelor's [in] Speech Communication and has a background in Banking, Dance Therapy, Childbirth Preparation."

Despite having clear financial problems, the couple pitched a "Money Matters Initiative Program" on the blog that consists of investment and budgeting advice. Barron and Hart also offer an eating healthy program. 

Hart's LinkedIn page says she is a graduate of Clarion University in Pennsylvania and a doula.

"As a wife and a mother of 5 children, I understand the importance of having support while being pregnant and through the childbirth process," she wrote on LinkedIn.

The children are presently under the custody of the Department of Children and Families. The report does not state whether the couple has legal representation.

Barron and Hart are being held in Palm Beach County Jail with a bail set at $1,000. 

Sources: Daily Mail, Palm Beach Post / Photo credit: Peeker Automotive

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