The sister-in-law of the California dad accused of shackling his children inside a foul-smelling home said Wednesday the man would watch her take showers when she lived with the couple years ago.
Louise Turpin, 49, and David Turpin, 57, remained in jail Wednesday, each on $9 million bail, following their Sunday arrest in which police say they entered the couple's suburban Perris home and found "several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings."
"He did things that made me feel uncomfortable," Elizabeth Jane Flores, one of Louise's sisters, told ABC News' "Good Morning America" program Wednesday. "If I were to get in the shower, he would come in there while I was in there and watch me, and it was like a joke. He never touched me or anything."
Flores said the encounters happened when she lived with the couple for a few months during her college years, and they only had four children at the time.
She told ABC News she had to follow strict "rules" in the household and had "uncomfortable" experiences with David Turpin, but kept quiet because she was "young" and "scared".
In 2008, when Flores moved closer to the Turpins in Texas, she said she would see her sister frequently, but rarely was invited to their home.
"I was only allowed in the driveway," she told ABC News. "There was never any children, it was just always her and David."
Police said Tuesday that there was no indication that the rescued children were sexually abused, but the possibility is still being investigated.
Another one of Louise Turpin's sisters said she was perplexed as to where the woman's alleged behavior came from.
“Our life wasn’t perfect growing up, but, she didn’t live like that,” Teresa Robinette told NBC News. “And neither did David. David, I knew his parents, he was raised in a very wealthy home church.”
Robinette added the situation seemed like a “bad dream."
“I’m so heartbroken for my nieces and nephews and at the same time I can’t even say the words to you that I would like to say to her,” she said. “I’m so angry inside. I’m mad. I’m hurt.”
She was also quoted by the Associated Press as saying that the children weren't allowed to watch television and had no social life.
Robinette’s comments came as neighbors continue to describe bizarre happenings around the Turpin residence, which was also listed as the location of the Sandcastle Day School, a private institution that opened in 2011 with David named as the principal.
“They only came out at night,” Neighbor Andria Valdez told The Press-Enterprise. “They were really, really pale.”
Jonte McLaurin, another neighbor, told the newspaper at one point the family let the grass die outside their home and put bales of hay in the front yard.
Other neighbors told CBS 2 News they would sometimes see the children picking up trash around the property, and, in at least one instance, scrounging around garbage bins for food to eat.
One neighbor in Texas, where the family previously lived, also said Tuesday the parents routinely forced their children to march through the upper floors of their home during early morning hours.
"I thought they were like a cult," he said.
The children, ages 2 to 29, appeared malnourished and on the verge of starvation when they were found Sunday, authorities said.
Corona Regional Medical Center CEO Mark Uffer said Tuesday the facility is treating seven of the children.
"They're very cooperative, and I believe that they're hopeful that life will get better for them after this event,” he told reporters.
Police also said Tuesday they had not received any prior calls to check in on the home.
The Turpin parents could be slapped Wednesday with torture and child endangerment charges and are scheduled to appear in court Thursday, authorities told the Associated Press.
“We are sickened by this tragedy and relieved the children are now safe and authorities are investigating,” the California Department of Education said in a statement Tuesday amid pressure from one public official for more oversight. “Under California law, the CDE does not have the authority to monitor, inspect, or oversee private schools.”
State Assembly member Jose Medina, a Democrat representing Riverside, has called for greater scrutiny of California private schools.
“I am extremely concerned,” he told The Press-Enterprise.