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The normal house and family cars that hid a horrible secret

The house at 160 Muir Woods Road in Perris, California, could not look any more normal.

The curtains are drawn and the Christmas star still hangs in the front window.

In the driveway, a silver minibus and a family of VW cars are still parked outside the triple garage.

A child seat can be seen in one of the cars, the number plate ‘DL4EVER’ on the back of another.

The front of 160 Muir Woods Road, Perris, California
The front of 160 Muir Woods Road, Perris, California
The front of 160 Muir Woods Road, Perris, California

Is that in honour of David and Louise Turpin? Whatever, their home, it turns out, was far from normal.

A whole family chained and starved in squalid conditions in the middle of the very model of American suburbia.

It is evident that the authorities are still struggling to get to the bottom of the reasons behind the extraordinary scene they discovered on Sunday morning.

The Turpins on their wedding day in 2016
The Turpins posed with their children on the day they renewed their marriage vows in 2016

The abuse could have gone on for decades, they say.

But the revelation about the apparent captivity of the couple’s 13 children has shocked far beyond this quiet newly built neighbourhood.

The impact is felt strongest amid the neat lawns and stucco-fronted family homes.

Everyone, it appears, is wondering whether they should have seen more, or could have done more, to brings the horrors to an end earlier.

David and Louise Turpin are being investigated over torture and child endangerment

Shackled children found in California home

Kimberly Milligan described an interaction about Christmas decorations with some of the Turpin children just after she moved in two years ago.

Now it makes sense, she says, that those pale, skinny adults looked more like children and “froze as if it would make them invisible” when she spoke to them.

Other neighbours recall thinking it odd that they didn’t see those usual signs of a houseful of children: playing in the street, noise from the back garden.

Ilda Martinez scolds herself for not noticing more. She looked at that house every day but saw nothing to sound alarm bells.

Maybe, she says, there is a lesson for us all to communicate with our neighbours and take more interest in each other.

“How could someone treat their kids like that?” she asked.

The Turpin family
The Turpin family posed with t-shirts from a Dr Seuss book

Some neighbours, not surprisingly, have declined to comment. The global focus on any street with this sort of notoriety is uncomfortable.

How would any of us feel to discover this sort of horror happening next door?

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