It’s a sad fact that this world is evidently so self-absorbed that we often don’t notice the strange behavior of our fellow citizens.
Too busy with our lives we don’t stop to investigate the bizarre actions of those within close proximity to us, from our neighbors to our own family and friends. After all, it’s hard to believe that those close to us are capable of atrocious crimes – despite copious amounts of warning signs.
Take the cases of Jaycee Lee Dugard and Elizabeth Fritzl for example, both young girls were abducted and held hostage for a majority of their lives by crazed perverts (Fritzl was imprisoned in the basement of her own home by her father for 24 years, while 11-year-old Dugard was snatched from the street and kept captive for 18 years in a tent in her kidnappers backyard).
In both cases, the girls were failed by those close to them who were ignorant of the unusual activity that hinted something wasn’t right.
When both of those cases came to light, the world was appalled. How could nobody have noticed anything peculiar? Could they have been saved if a nosy neighbor had alerted the police?
In the case of Elizabeth Fritzl, many thought it incomprehensible that her mother didn’t know her location. But, despite the private promises we made to ourselves after these stories broke to be more vigilant in society, another scandalous story has managed to emerge.
On the morning of Sunday, January 14, police discovered 12 children shackled to their beds inside their family home in Perris, California. They’d been led to the scene by the children’s 17-year-old sibling who managed to escape the confines her bed and dial 911.
Upon arrival, police found the “dirty” children malnourished and begging for food and water to soothe their “starving” stomachs.
The children’s parents, 57-year-old David Allen Turpin and 49-year-old, Louise Anna Turpin, were arrested and swiftly charged with torture and child endangerment.
They are currently being held at the Robert Presley Detention Center, east of Los Angeles, with bail having been set at $9 million. They are due to appear in court on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the 13 children – aged between two and 29-years-old – were taken to hospital where they were treated by medical professionals who were horrified by their thin “dirty” frames and pale complexions.
Neighbors of the family have now come forward to call them reclusive and unusual, with some even saying they had no idea children even lived in the home (despite there being 13 of them under one roof). “I didn’t know there were kids in the house. I had no idea this was going on,” said Andrew Santillan, who lives nearby.
According to other neighbors, the children would “only come out at night” which led to them being dubbed the “vampire family” due to their “really, really pale” skin.
Other neighbors have recounted interactions they had with the family for the hoards of reporters now stationed on their street.
One recalled an occasion where he’d complimented the children on the Nativity scene that they were building outside the front of their house a few years ago, but rather than be flattered by the praise they were “weird about it.” Still, he thought nothing amiss.
Similarly, another neighbor had witnessed the children digging for food in garbage bins, but rather than be alarmed she ignored them. “[They] looked like they were having fun like a regular family,” neighbor Nicole Gooding told CBS2.
People have been left confused by the parent’s decision to imprison their own children, but some have hinted that it could have been caused by the family’s financial state which was in dire straits after the parents filed for bankruptcy in 2011 – despite David Turpin earning $140,000 a year as an engineer for a top defense contractor.
Peculiarly, the family took many vacations, often frequenting Disneyland. In addition, David and Louise renewed their wedding vows in 2016 during a ceremony in Las Vegas, complete with an Elvis impersonator, in which all 13 children appear to have been present.
For those concerned that education authorities didn’t notice the children’s absence, it would appear that they were homeschooled by their father.
According to their grandparents, who hadn’t seen them in five years or suspected anything was wrong, their father was “very strict” when it came to educating his children at his own ‘Sandcastle Day School’, where lessons would include the children memorizing passages from the Bible, and even the whole book.
Despite six of the siblings being adults, they allowed their parents to dress them in identical outfits to their seven child siblings for apparent safety reasons. “They were very protective of the kids. This is a highly respectable family,” their grandmother told CNN.
It appears that the older children were permitted to drive, with one neighbor having spotted one of the daughters arriving home only one month ago in a red Volkswagen.
Outside the Turpin’s home sit four vehicles, including a mini-van. So it’s unclear as to why the children were chained up having evidently been allowed a certain amount of freedom.
Although they were of an age where they could have left the care of their parents, the seven adults remained. But, now they are free after being discovered in a “foul-smelling room” by the cops in the family’s four-bedroom house in a well-to-do neighborhood.
A neighbor who knew of the property was surprised that so many people could live inside. “Absolutely not. I would say a normal family, if they had six children, it could be adequate but 13? No. Absolutely not,” he told the Daily Mail when asked if a family of 15 could comfortably live inside.
As the story develops, no doubt more details will come to light. In the meantime, we are glad that the children have been rescued and the parents reprimanded.