Invisible Children

7 children of JoAnn and Michael McGuckin

Content note: Case narratives include descriptions of severe violence inflicted on children, including abuse and neglect, sexual violence, torture, and murder, as well as mentions of suicide and domestic violence. They also include photos of victims and perpetrators of violence.

Seven children—Erina (age 19, right), Kathryn (16), Benjamin (14), Mary (13), James (11), Frederick (9), and Jane (8)—were starved and neglected by their parents, Michael and JoAnn McGuckin (center). All were homeschooled.

Both Michael and JoAnn suffered from mental illness, and the family lived in poverty completely off the grid. The children subsisted mainly on lily pads and pond water; the house was filled with garbage. Erina, the oldest, was primarily responsible for homeschooling the children and caring for her youngest sister. Erina left home in 2000 to join the military but was medically discharged due to complications of long-term malnourishment. Then, in May 2001, Michael McGuckin died of malnourishment after a long struggle with multiple sclerosis. These events prompted Erina to report the family. When authorities arrived to remove the children, a five-day standoff ensued.

JoAnn McGuckin was arrested on charges of child injury which were later dismissed. She was reunited with her children in 2002.

Date: May 29, 2001
Sandpoint, Idaho


Documents: Date:
Idaho standoff lays bare a family’s decline 05-31-2001
6 Siblings Make a Lonely Stand, Minus Mother, Father and Power 06-01-2001
The Children’s War 06-03-2001
McGuckin lived in fear, ex-wife says 06-09-2001
Daughter Claims Neglect in Idaho Home 06-27-2001
McGuckin daughter wanted out 07-04-2001
McGuckin on the road to recovery 02-09-2002
Idaho, JoAnn McGuckin still at a standoff 05-26-2002
Five years after standoff, family members talk 06-05-2006