A Georgia father, his wife and two other adults have been arrested after the bodies of two of the man's children were found buried on the property of their home.
The bodies of Mary Crocker, who has not been seen since October, and her brother, Elwin Crocker Jr., who vanished in November 2016, were found on Dec. 20, according to the Effingham County Sheriff's Office. Neither had been reported missing.
The day the bodies were found would have been Mary Crocker's 14th birthday, the county coroner, David H. Exley, told NBC News. Exley confirmed the bodies have been identified as the two teens but said confirming their causes of death could take weeks.
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Elwin Crocker Jr. went missing when he was 14 and would be 17 now, the coroner said.
“I’ve been doing this 41 years, and a while ago I almost broke down in tears,” said Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie, according to NBC affiliate WGAL. “It’s that bad. I cannot understand how you do children like this. It’s horrible.”
Deputies checked out the home in Guyton, north of Savannah, after police received a call from someone fearing Mary Crocker was dead because she had not been seen in weeks, according to a statement from the the sheriff's office.
Family members at the home told investigators the young girl had gone to live with her mother, but gave conflicting information, the sheriff's office statement said. Her father, Elwyn Crocker, 49, eventually "gave information that led investigators to search the grounds of the home," and two bodies were discovered, the release said.
A third child found alive in the home was taken to the hospital for observation.
Crocker and his wife, Candice Crocker, 33, were arrested and charged with with concealing the death of another and cruelty to children in the first degree. Kim Wright, the children's step-grandmother and her boyfriend, Roy Anthony Prater, were also arrested and charged with the same. Prater is also facing drug charges.
The sheriff's office said the four would likely face more charges after the children's causes of death were determined.
Guyton is a city of fewer than 2,000 people about 25 miles north of Savannah. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that until recently Elwyn Crocker played Santa at a Walmart in nearby Rincon.
Elisha Fieldstadt is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.