Seven children taken from a Sandy home Monday by state child welfare officials, were found unsupervised and living in squalor amid piles of garbage, dirty laundry and in rooms without electricity, police say.
The children are allegedly members of the polygamous Kingston clan.Most of the dozen rooms in the home, 190 E. 9100 South, were filthy or in an unfinished state, Sandy police officer Al Nortz said. Food was found stuck to counters and plates and mold was growing in each of the two kitchens in the home, he said.
"The kids themselves looked unkempt but not really dirty," Nortz said.
The children, who were discovered alone when officials from the Division and Child of Family Services went there on a welfare check Monday, hid from authorities and were evasive about their names, Nortz said.
Initially, officials were seeking a 15-year-old girl who reportedly was removed from school against her will about a year ago, DCFS spokesman Randy Ripplinger said.
DCFS Cottonwood region director Heber Tippetts said Wednesday the children are all brothers and sisters, although the names of their parents were not released. The 15-year-old girl has also been located but has not been taken into state custody, Tippetts said.
A shelter hearing to determine if the children can be returned to their parents or remain in state custody was scheduled for Wednesday, Tippetts said.
Salt Lake County records indicate the home is owned by Ellery Kingston, a cousin of John Daniel Kingston, who recently pleaded no-contest to child abuse after allegedly beating a 16-year-old daughter who had ran out of what she said was a forced marriage to her uncle. The uncle, David Ortell Kingston, was recently convicted of unlawful sexual conduct and incest.
Former Kingston clan member Rowena Erickson told the Deseret News the children are the offspring of Ellery Kingston and his wife Maurine Gustafson. Gustafson is Ellery Kingston's second wife, and the couple has about 14 children, Erickson said.
Gustafson does carry a residential-care certificate from the state health department to provide child care for up to 12 non-related children at the residence, state licensing director Debra Wyncoop-Green said. Gustafson was issued a new license in February but was cited last fall for having an dirty home, Wyncoop-Green said.
A recent inspection of the home did not reveal any potential health problems, she said.
Erickson said she knows of instances where children in some polygamous homes are abused and neglected. She said she has witnessed children get severely sunburned, go without food and clean clothes and even break limbs without being given proper care because the parents are afraid of exposing their lifestyle to authorities.