A man who worked as a Walmart Santa Claus was arrested and charged after police found the dead bodies of two of his children buried in his backyard, according to the New York Post.
Elwyn Crocker, along with his wife, stepmother, and the stepmother's boyfriend, were charged in connection with the deaths of Elywn Crocker Jr. and Mary Crocker, who were both 14 years old when they are believed to have died.
"I've been doing this 41 years, and a while ago I almost broke down in tears," Effingham County Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie told reporters. "It's that bad. I cannot understand how you do children like this. It's horrible."
What's the story?
It was the disappearance of Mary Crocker in October that raised suspicions leading to the discovery of the children's bodies in Elwyn Crocker's backyard.
Someone called 911 to express concern about Mary's whereabouts, so officers went to the residence and interviewed Crocker. Information from that interview reportedly led them to check the backyard.
Not only did they find Mary, but they found Elwyn Jr., who hadn't been seen since Nov. 2016 but had never been reported missing.
The autopsies confirmed the kids' identities, but a cause of death hasn't been determined yet. The fact that the bodies were buried for so long presents challenges to medical examiners.
How did their disappearances go unnoticed?
Both children were pulled out of local public schools and enrolled in homeschool programs; Elwyn Jr. in 2014, and Mary after the 2017-2018 school year.
Reports of potential child abuse had been made to the Department of Family and Child Services in the past, but the agency is unable to reveal information about specific cases to the public.
"The biggest question some of us are asking is, how did the little boy go missing for two years and nobody identified that?" sheriff's office spokeswoman Gena Sullivan said.
The family members have been charged with concealing a death and child cruelty, with additional charges possible depending on the cause of the deaths.