Aug. 23, 2011 -- Three children -- one suffering second-degree burns -- were taken into protective custody Monday after they were discovered living with their parents in a "filthy" car in a Walmart parking lot.
Police were called to the parking lot Monday morning in Mount Dora, Fla., where they found the family of five living in a 1987 Cadillac Coupe de Ville full of clothes and garbage. Police told the Orlando Sentinel that days-old chicken bones were strewn about the car, along with a spoiled carton of milk and a bottle of tequila.
The illegal prescription drug clonazepam was also found in the car, according to the Lake County Sheriff's Office.
The parents, Justin Hamilton, 31, and Kristin Harris, 26, were booked into Lake County Jail on charges of child neglect and possession of an illegal prescription drug.
The oldest child, a 7-year-old girl, was treated at the hospital for blistering second-degree burns covering her entire back, said Carrie Hoeppner, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Children and Families.
The two boys, ages 4 and 1, were initially released to relatives before they were taken into protective custody.
"We weren't comfortable with that situation," Hoeppner told ABCNews.com
The 7-year-old was released from the hospital and into custody with her brothers.
"We hate to break families up, but there is a difference between living in poverty and squalor and filth," Hoeppner said. "And if you look at the pictures, that is obviously the case."
Hamilton, who along with Harris, denied ABCNews.com's request for a jailhouse interview, did tell the Sentinel from behind bars that it was all a misunderstanding.
He said the family had been evicted from their apartment and, after a dispute with relatives, had been forced to stay the night in their car.
The father of three said the family had simply fallen on hard times.
He said his business had slowed down, he was behind on medical bills from a motorcycle accident earlier this year and that he was trying to make ends meet by doing odd jobs and day labor.
"I didn't know where else to go," Hamilton told the Sentinel. "I'm trying."
He said his daughter's severe, second-degree burns were sustained during a day of paddle boating on a local lake and added that the family's physician had examined the burns and provided the girl with aloe lotions.
Hamilton has a previous conviction for cocaine and marijuana possession in 2010, according to court records, which also show Harris has a previous conviction for shoplifting groceries and marijuana possession.
Hamilton is being held on a $10,250 bond, while Harris' bail was set at $10,000.