Former Texan neighbours of David and Louise Turpin, the American couple whose 13 children were discovered chained and malnourished last week, have described a previous home littered with faeces, dead animals and a makeshift classroom.
Ricky Vinyard, a tree feller from Rio Vista also told how one Christmas eight bikes arrived but remained untouched outside until they bleached in the sun.
And that one of the daughters once ran away from home, only to be returned to her parents by another local resident.
“It was waist-deep in filth. There were dead dogs and cats in there,” he told the Los Angeles Times.
He described how he found two Chihuahuas that had survived by eating waste from a mound of soiled nappies in a trailer behind the property where the children slept.
“There were no beds, just mattresses."
Inside the four-bedroom, two-bathroom home he said that: "There wasn’t a place that wasn’t filthy.
“Everything had locks on it: the closet had locks, the toy chest, the refrigerator.”
The couple, David 56 and Louise, 49, claimed to home-school their children, and the faeces-littered living room included eight small desks, a chalkboard, alphabet and number signs stapled to the wall.
The family lived in the rural neighbourhood, south of Dallas with eight children from approximately 2000 to 2004 before they abandoned the property and moved to Perris in California.
There, last week, both were each charged with multiple counts of torture, child abuse, the abuse of dependent adults and false imprisonment relating to the children aged from two to 29. They pleaded not guilty to all counts and are being held in custody on $9 million bail each. (£6.5m)
David Turpin was also charged with one count of a lewd act on a child by force. If convicted, they face up to 94 years to life in prison.
The new revelations came as a California politician began drafting legislation to give greater oversight of home-schooled children, in a bid to prevent a repeat of the horrors.
Jose Medina told The Telegraph: “What happened in the city of Perris was tragic, and it was horrific. And I would like to try to do everything I can to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”
The Turpins' 13 children, aged between two and 29, had all, except the eldest, been exclusively home-schooled - meaning that, under California law, there was no outside contact.
“One of the reasons this went undetected was because the parents could keep the children hidden from the public,” said Mr Medina. “So I’m looking at what the state can do, so that kids can no longer be kept in captivity.”Two million children in the US are home-schooled, representing three per cent of all American youngsters, according to the Mike Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). The trend began in the 1970s, he told The Telegraph, but has increased in recent years. By contrast, in the UK only 30,000 children were educated at home in the 2016/17 academic year, out of over eight million.
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