07:29 GMT10 July 2020
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    The graves of two children were found on the property of their father in Effingham County, Georgia, last week, leading to a slew of arrests and more questions than answers.

    Elwyn Crocker Sr., the children's father, was arrested along with his wife, Candice Crocker, 33, and her mother, Kim Wright, 50, as well as Wright's boyfriend, Roy Anthony Prater, 55, all of whom lived on the property, on charges of child cruelty and concealing a death, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on December 21. A third child was taken into custody.

    Elwyn, Sr. turned 49 on Christmas and until recently played Santa at a local Walmart store.

    ​The bodies of the two children, Mary Crocker and Elwyn Crocker Jr, whose identities were confirmed by autopsy Monday, were found buried in the family's backyard. Both 14 years of age when they died, Mary was reportedly buried for several months while Elwyn, Jr. might have been killed two years ago, according to coroner David Exley.

    "The cause and manner of death is still pending," Exley said, adding it could take weeks.

    The town of Guyton, Georgia, has less than 2,000 people, but somehow the disappearances of the two children went unnoticed until only recently. The children weren't even technically reported missing; the AJC reported that local police appeared on the property to investigate following an anonymous tip via 911 call expressing concern about the girl's whereabouts.

    ​WJCL reported that after the father falsely told officers the girl was with her mother in South Carolina, they returned to check the backyard for the bodies, which the father reportedly helped the officers to locate.

    "I've been doing this 41 years, and a while ago I almost broke down in tears," Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie told reporters, according to AJC "It's that bad. I cannot understand how you do children like this. It's horrible."

    "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 spokesperson Gena Sullivan told AJC.

    While both kids were enrolled in the Effingham County School District, the school system told WSAV on December 21 that Mary had been removed from the school system at the start of the 2018-2019 school year and that Elwyn was withdrawn on January 10, 2014. Both students were moved into the homeschool program upon withdrawal.

    The school district wouldn't say whether the children's guardians signed the withdrawal forms. However, the sheriff's office told reporters the parents had been reported to the Division of Family and Children Services before. The agency declined to comment on a still-open case.

    One neighbor of the family, who lives within sight of their house, told WSAV they'd seen the father on numerous occasions with a shovel in the area where the children's' graves were found after Mary went missing last month.

    "If you saw someone in the back digging, if you saw a little girl wandering around, anything. Anything that you thought might have been a little strange at the time, but now you realize it could be very pertinent to this case," said Sullivan, urging the public to come forward with information. "If you dealt with these children in school and you noticed anything. If you called DFACS because these children were malnourished or bruised up, or anything. Anything that anybody saw we need them to call the sheriffs office and talk to one of our detectives."

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