The Children's War

After their mother was taken into custody, the McGuckin kids went to battle stations in Idaho

It was a family affair," Dale Coffelt says, recalling the Saturday that JoAnn McGuckin, 45, pulled up to see him in her aging Chevy Suburban. "She just showed up with all the kids." Well, not all. Six of her eight children were packed in the SUV. But so was the body of her husband Michael, 61, dead that day from the final malnourishing stages of almost a decade of multiple sclerosis.

McGuckin and her family were dedicated recluses on the outskirts of Sandpoint, Idaho, a state noted for recluses. The clan chose to meet with few people, mostly charity workers,...

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