A neighbor who was childhood friends with some of the California children allegedly found imprisoned and starved this week is speaking out for the first time.
Ashely Vinyard, 25, lived across the street from the Turpins when they lived in Rio Vista, Texas, and befriended the couple’s son and two daughters. Reports indicated that the family lived in Rio Vista from 1999 to 2010 before moving to California.
Speaking with the Daily Mail, Vinyard claimed that she was allowed to play with the children but they wouldn’t tell her about their home life due to their parents’ protective nature.
“They really didn’t talk about their parents or family like a lot of other kids do. Every time I innocently asked them about their parents they would sort of shut down,” she recalled.
Vinyard went on to claim that she was allowed into the home but was limited to the kitchen and dining room. Despite this, she said that the Texas home smelled of feces and that it looked like they didn’t have any food or dishes.
“I only went into their house on a couple of occasions. You had to enter through the back door. I remember there were animal cages and newspapers strewn about on the floor, piles with feces on it. They had dogs, cats, and goats,” she said.
“Even though the house smelled of poop at the time I really didn’t think anything about it, since we lived out in the country it was no big deal to have animals in your house.”
Vinyard’s comments mirror her mother’s. Shelly Vinyard told KESQ this week that the family appeared outgoing at first but that they stopped talking to her after she asked one of the girls her name.
“I thought it was like a religious compound over there,” Shelly told the station. “They were weird and homeschooled the kids and kept ’em away from everybody and wouldn’t say names and I just thought maybe they were a little out there.”
After the Turpins moved out, the pair claimed that they realized that the Rio Vista home was filled with so much trash and feces that the family had started living in a double-wide trailer in their backyard. The Vinyards said they went through the property and found dogs eating soiled diapers for food and empty Vienna sausage cans all over the residence.
“They had a huge garbage dumpster at their house and we heard a baby kitten crying. We pulled a baby kitty from the dumpster and kept it,” Shelly recalled.
“The dumpster smelled of death, who knows what was buried in it.”
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Riverside County police arrested David, 57, and Louise, 49, Turpin Monday after their 17-year-old daughter reportedly fled their Perris, California, home and called for help. The teen told officers that she and her 12 siblings were being held captive in the squalid home.
The couple is facing multiple charges, including torture and false imprisonment. They are each being held on $9 million bail.
[Featured Image: David and Louise Turpin/Riverside County Sheriff’s Department]