Neighbor of Calif. Couple Accused of Shackling 13 Children: 'Something Wasn't Right There'
"I thought maybe they weren't being properly taken care of," the neighbor tells PEOPLE
A neighbor tells PEOPLE that something always seemed amiss in the Perris, California, home David and Louise Turpin shared with their 13 children — though she never suspected anything criminal was going on.
“Never in a million years did I think they were being chained to beds,” says the neighbor, who spoke to PEOPLE Tuesday about the allegations against the couple on condition of anonymity. “I thought maybe they weren’t being properly taken care of but I never had anything to go off of; it was just a mom’s stomach feeling that something wasn’t right there.”
The neighbor says she never saw the parents abusing their children, who were allegedly malnourished.
She also says that she never saw the 13 Turpin children “scrounging for food” and never noticed any indication the kids needed help.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
“There wasn’t any sign for me to be like, ‘I need to call the cops,'” the neighbor tells PEOPLE, who described some of the Turpins’ behaviors as “odd” — like “doing stuff in the evening.”
The neighbor says she does not think she ever saw “all the kids,” believing the children were “just very private and very introverted.”
She adds: “Everything about them signified normality. It didn’t signify ‘We got our kids tied to beds in our house.'”
David Turpin, 56, and Louise Turpin, 49, were arrested Monday on suspicion of nine counts of torture and 10 counts of child endangerment after their 17-year-old daughter “escaped” from their home and called 911 on Jan. 14 to report that her 12 siblings were allegedly being held captive by their parents.
The couple, who have not entered pleas to the charges, are each being held on $9 million bond.
Deputies interviewed the parents at their Muir Woods Road home and found “several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings,” it is alleged in a press release issued by police Monday.
ABC News spoke to James and Betty Turpin, David’s parents, who said they were “surprised and shocked” to learn of the conditions their grandchildren were allegedly living in.
The neighbor tells PEOPLE she witnessed the police response Monday.
“They took the kids pretty quickly,” the neighbor explains. “The sheriff drove up and they didn’t wait for CPS. The kids left first. And they moved the dad from one car to the other. They drove the dad away and mom was last. And there was an officer that was here all day in the house.”
• For more compelling true crime coverage, follow our Crime magazine on Flipboard.
Animal control officials arrived at the home to take the family’s two dogs, the neighbor says.
“I never saw a significant grocery purchase,” the neighbor tells PEOPLE. “I never saw one person visit. To me, that is weird.”
The neighbor praised the daughter who escaped her parents and notified the police.
“I am so proud of that girl because even if all of us neighbors reported something, it would have taken months for a case for the police to be able to go in the house and the fact she escaped and her bravery to save her siblings and get out of that situation, I want to applaud her. She deserves every accolade and I hope with all of this, these kids won’t be separated.”
Information on whether either parent has retained a lawyer wasn’t immediately available.