A child found living in a shed without utilities in the backyard of a Lakeside home had what she needed, according to a relative.
"She was well taken care of, that's enough," Ted Tavolazzi said Thursday, defending his brother's decision to live in one of the backyard sheds with a woman and his 9-year-old girl niece.
“My brother didn't have a place to stay that's the only place he could keep her was with him in the backyard,” Tavolazzi said. “She had a good place to live had a bed there and everything.”
Also found in the shed, deputies say, were a shotgun, rifle and eight grams of methamphetamine.
Deputies say the guns and drugs were all within the child’s reach when they found her living in deplorable conditions among the junk littering the backyard and the shed with no water, no toilet and one electrical socket.
“But she had access to the house, the bathroom in the house, the water in the house. She has everything there,” Tavolazzi said. “He was doing the best he could under the circumstances he was in."
Deputies discovered the child when they did a probation check Thursday morning on two people at the home on Lindo Lane.
Six men and two women were arrested on various felony weapon and drug possession charges with intent to sell.
“People drive up, they stop walk in back of the house for a while and get in their car and drive off,” said neighbor Tom Wessels. “It's like going to McDonald’s.”
A picture taken by a neighbor shows what happened when residents say a propane tank used to heat one of the sheds exploded, setting a tree on fire.
Trash outside the home sparked at least one resident to write a county supervisor for help.
A concrete wall was built by another neighbor to shield his kids from the problems next door.
“It's pretty disgusting the traffic and the trash. there's been violence there," said neighbor Traci Howe.
Thirteen people were detained. Six men and two women were arrested and booked into county jail, officials said.
They include, Kirsten Fleming, 22, Wesley Fleming, 27, Dustin Kemna, 21, Joe Tavolazzi, 60, Kimberly Bradeen, 29, Nathan Tavolazzi, 22, John Joe Carter, 22, and Harvey Garrison, 51.
Charges include felony child endangerment, gun charges, drug charges, probation violations and sales of a controlled substance near a school.
The girl was in the custody of employees of the Child Protective Services Drug Endangered Children unit. Deputies said her condition was surprisingly good, considering the deplorable living conditions.
It's not clear how long they had been living in the shed. The investigation is ongoing.