Living conditions bring charges
by The Press and Standard | January 10, 2019 5:00 am
Last Updated: January 9, 2019 at 8:39 am
A Jan. 3 call about a dog bite incident escalated into an investigation into alleged substandard living conditions and an arrest.
An animal control officer with the Colleton County Animal and Environmental Control asked deputies to respond to Rowe Lane in Round O at approximately 2:33 p.m.
He was sent to the area by a report of a child being bitten by one of the dogs belonging to Rowe Lane residents.
Colleton County Sheriff R.A. Strickland joined deputies at the scene. According to a press release issued by the sheriff’s office, the animal control officer, told the deputies, “That’s the residence where the dogs belong” as he pointed towards a small building that looked more like a tool shed than a home.
The building was barely visible due to a large amount of debris strewn on the ground. A large amount of clothing was hanging from rope tied to almost every tree.
Looking inside, Strickland noticed that more than four animals occupied the 12×12-foot makeshift building.
There were loft beds lining the walls and a floor covered in mold due to excessive leaks. Cardboard boxes lined the walls for insulation, bed linen and pillows were stained dark brown due to poor living conditions.
Numerous empty alcohol containers, along with spoiled food, were thrown across the floor.
There was no running water for bathing or drinking and no electricity to provide heat in the winter.
Strickland, walking the area, noticed it was full of children’s’ toys, random chemicals, cookware full of rotting food, mounds of trash. An old car tire was full of fecal matter, apparently used as a toilet.
Disgusted by what he saw, Strickland contacted the Colleton County Criminal Investigations Division and the Department of Social Services to help further investigate the situation.
While waiting on assistance to arrive, Strickland with the help of Corporal Brandon Craven and Deputy David Kroll obtained information from a neighbor that there were supposedly five children, two adults and four animals residing in the makeshift building.
While speaking with the neighbor, the adult male arrived and began questioning Strickland about why the officers were there.
During questioning, the man reportedly said the uninhabitable home was his, and that his wife and children sometimes lived there, although his wife and children have another residence in Summerville. The man said he could not recall the Summerville address.
The man reportedly claimed that he was a Mennonite and his religion didn’t require him to provide necessities for his family such as running water or electricity.
The man, Charlie Kidwell, 37, of Round O, was arrested on five charges of unlawful conduct toward a child. The charges accused him of failure to provide the proper necessities for his children.
When he appeared in Colleton County Magistrate bond court, Kidwell was ordered held on $75,000 bond. The bond also included a requirement that he wear an ankle monitor and have no contact with his children. He also faces charges of not providing rabies shots for his dogs and allowing them to run free that were filed by Colleton County Animal and Environmental Control.
Five unlawful conduct toward a child warrants were also issued for his wife, Precious Kidwell, who was located with the children on Jan. 8. She was scheduled for a bond hearing late Tuesday.
Colleton investigators Shauna Tozier and Edward Marcurella, assisted by the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office, found the mother and the five children at a home in Dorchester County.
All five children were turned over to the Department of Social Services until a court determines if they can be placed with a responsible family member who can provide them with proper necessities.
This is still an on-going investigation, and further details are limited at this time.
“The Colleton County Criminal Investigations Division worked hard to recover these children. We can all sleep better now knowing they have clean clothes, running water and are in the hands of people who have their best interests at heart,” said Strickland.