A Georgia man who was formerly employed as a Walmart Santa Claus has been charged in connection to the discovery of his two teenaged children found buried in his backyard.
On December 19, authorities responded to a welfare check on 14-year-old Mary Crocker at the home of Elwyn Crocker Sr., her father. Mary had been missing since October, though no official missing person’s report was filed.
Information provided by Elwyn Sr. during an interview with officials eventually led officers to the bodies of Mary and her brother Elwyn Crocker, Jr., who was last seen some two years ago. Like Mary, no official missing person report was filed for the boy, either.
Police also found a third child, who has special needs, on the premises. The minor was sent to a nearby hospital for examination.
“I’ve been doing this 41 years, and a while ago I almost broke down in tears,” said local Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie, according to The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. “It’s that bad. I cannot understand how you do children like this. It’s horrible.”
Elwyn Sr., who turned 50 on Christmas Day, was working in close proximity to area children until recently, working as a Santa Claus at a Walmart in Rincon. He’s been charged with cruelty to children in the first degree and concealing the death of another, according to the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office.
The other adults in the home — the children’s stepmother, Candice Crocker, 33, and Kim Wright, 50, the children’s step-grandmother — were also charged with cruelty to children in the first degree and concealing the death of another.
The cause of death of the children remains unclear, though Elwyn Jr. was determined to have died two years ago when he was 14. Mary was determined to have been buried for months, likewise dying at age 14.
“The siblings had been enrolled in Effingham County schools but were withdrawn for home school before they were last seen,” reports the New York Post.
Young Mary was often seen outside by neighbors doing yard work.
“Other kids said at school they could tell stuff was wrong with her hands. They were red,” Gary Bennett, a neighbor, told WTOC. “That was from being out in the yard, out there most of the time working …”
The children’s biological mother is believed to be in South Carolina and homeless.