"I thought they were like a cult," said a man named Mike, who lived across the road from the allegedly abusive Turpin family in the town of Murrieta for several years before they moved in 2014.
"They would march back and forth on the second story at night. The light would be on the whole the time, and they would be marching the kids back and forth," Mike told the New York Post.
He said he'd often see the Turpin siblings being marched through the upstairs rooms between midnight and 3 a.m.
Parents David and Louise Turpin were arrested on suspicion of torture and child endangerment in the nearby town of Perris on Monday after their 17-year-old daughter escaped and called 911, saying her siblings were being held captive by their parents — and that some of them were bound with chains and padlocks.
Police arrived on the scene to find "several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings," a press release stated.
Former neighbor Mike said he never noticed anything about the family that warranted calling the police.
"My wife called them clones. They spoke robotically, in a monotone and at the same time," he said of his spouse's few interactions with the family at the local grocery store.
He remembers the massive amounts of garbage brought out of the house when the family moved out.
"There were lots of black garbage bags," Mike said. "I never saw any toys or bicycles."
The family first moved into the Murrieta home in 2010, their former landlord Eric Aguirre told The Post. Before that, they owned a farm in Texas but fled when that was foreclosed on, court records show.
The trailer where they lived on that property, too, was filled with junk, neighbors said.
"I ended up calling the police because of the trash and everything that was left there," said Randy McClain, who moved in across the road from their Rio Vista farm around 2005 and came by to see what was up after hearing dogs barking on the abandoned property.
"There was a brand new pickup truck covered in [trash] — a whole truck bed full and overflowing to the ground with trash: diapers, Spam cans, potted meat cans, just overflowing."
At the time of their arrest, the parents were "unable to immediately provide a logical reason why their children were restrained in that manner," according to the release.
Deputies were "shocked to discover that seven of them were actually adults, ranging in age from 18 to 29," as the victims appeared to be malnourished and dirty, a press release stated.
The siblings were taken to the Sheriff's office and questioned, and were also given food and drink after they told investigators they were "starving."
Some neighbors said they were shocked to learn the family had as many children in the house as they did, and adding it was almost as if "they'd never seen the sun."
"Everybody was super skinny, not athletic skinny but malnourished skinny," neighbor Josh Tiedeman told ABC News.
James and Betty Turpin, David's parents, told ABC News that they were "surprised and shocked" to hear the news. They said they spoke to David once or twice a month, though had not visited their son or their grandchildren in four or five years.
On their last visit to Perris, about 27 miles south of San Bernardino, the grandparents said the children — ages 2 to 29 — "looked thin," but seemed like a "happy family."
Elizabeth Jane Flores, Louise's sister, has told reporters that she was not allowed to visit the 13 siblings.
Flores told The Daily Mail, "Something didn't seem right about her parenting but never would I have expected it to be like this."
"We have been so worried about them because it's been so strange but there was nothing we could do. They wouldn't let anyone visit and we didn't know their address. I haven't seen her in 19 years," Flores added. "We would talk on the phone from time to time, but every time I would ask to talk to her kids, she wouldn't let me."0comments
"She never let us talk to her kids. She wouldn't even accept my Facebook request. We all wondered what was going on. My parents booked several flights to go see them but when they got there they wouldn't tell them where to go and my parents left crying every time," Flores said. "They died before they got to see them again. It's just heartbreaking and I'm so embarrassed about all of this."
Here is How to Help the California 'Horror House' Victims, if you are interested.