Sheriff’s deputies placed four preschool children in protective custody Thursday after finding a homeless family living in the Santa Clara River wash Thursday afternoon.
Officials with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station announced the discovery Friday morning through a briefly-shared social media posting.
According to the post, deputies were alerted to four children ages three months to four years old who were reportedly living in the Santa Clara wash with their parents.
Concerned deputies responded to the location Thursday afternoon.
The children were placed in protective custody and released to the Department of Children and Family Services, while detectives conduct an investigation, the post on sheriff’s Facebook page reads.
When Crime Prevention Deputy Wilson saw the infants and toddlers living in the wash, he said: “I couldn’t just see them, and pretend like I didn’t.”
When asked about the situation, Watch Commander Lt. Bryan Aguilera said, “It’s difficult.”
And, while the children were placed in the care of county officials, the parents of the children were arrested on suspicion of willful cruelty to a child and child endangerment, a misdemeanor, Lt. Ignacio Somoano told The Signal.
The mother and father were described by arresting deputies as transients based in Castaic.
The occupation of the 35-year-old father, Jeremiah Brinegar, was listed on the arrest report as “servant of God.”
The mother, Ashley Melanson, 24, was listed as having no occupation.
Each parent was held on $25,000 bail.
News of the family found living in the Santa Clara River wash with four young children triggered an outpouring of response from citizens in the Santa Clarita Valley wanting to help the children.
“It’s so awful,” Danica Riner told The Signal. “Is there anything we can do to help?”
Mary Cain called The Signal asking if her company based in Valencia could help in some way.
“My work wanted to reach out and help,” she said.
Kimberlee Castro also contacted the newspaper asking: “Can you possibly direct me in the direction of the appropriate person to speak to regarding helping these children or possibly fostering?”
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