‘He would watch me in shower’
THE aunt of the 13 malnourished children allegedly held captive in a Californian home says the kids' father used to watch her in the shower when she briefly lived with the family.
Elizabeth Jane Flores, sister to the children's mother Louise Turpin, said her brother-in-law, David Turpin, made her feel uncomfortable when she stayed with the family for about two months in their previous Texas home while she attended college.
"If I were to get in the shower, he would come in while I was in there and watch me," Ms Flores told Good Morning America.
"It was like a joke. He never touched me or anything."
And while she found the behaviour disturbing, she kept it to herself.
"I was young, I was scared," she said.
"I was in Texas where I knew nobody; I had no family."
Ms Flores moved in with the Turpins when they had just started their large family.
"I was treated like one of the kids, kinda, so I had rules," she said.
"I thought they were really strict but I didn't see any type of abuse.
"Now that I'm an adult and I look back I see things I didn't see then."
Ms Flores was surprised by the revelation that her sister and brother-in-law had kept their 13 children shackled inside their home in such squalid conditions.
"I was shocked because my sister and I really haven't had a sister relationship for about 20 years, other than maybe a call every once in a while and sometimes those calls were like a year apart," she told GMA.
"I was shocked, I was devastated, just much like the rest of the world.
"We all want explanations just like everyone else, probably more so."
Ms Flores also revealed that the Turpins cut themselves off from the rest of her family and did not allow them to contact the children.
Mrs Turpin went so far as to stop her late father from visiting in 2012 - even after he had bought a plane ticket.
"He was so hurt," Ms Flores said.
"He got the ticket, he was going to surprise her and he called her to tell her he was coming and she told him not to come."
Because the wider family was estranged from the Turpins for two decades, they had no indication that the children were in danger.
"When that happens for 20 years, and it was before the kids even were there, you don't think it's abnormal. They were always funny and private anyway, even before they ever had children," she said.
Ms Flores broke down in tears when asked whether she had a message for her sister.
"I want her to know that she's still my blood and I love her," she said.
"I don't agree with what she did and her actions have made the whole family suffer.
"But I want her to know that I'm praying for her salvation and that we do love her."
She was also emotional when asked about her 17-year-old niece, who jumped out of window and called 911 with a mobile phone, which led police to expose her siblings' horrific reality.
"I'm so proud of her. What was so neat is, if I did the calculation in my hand right, I think it was the [child] that was named after me that did that," Ms Flores said.
She said she wanted to reach out to the children to offer her support.
"I want them to know that when they feel alone and they feel like nobody cared and they felt like they had no family, that wasn't true," she said.
"I don't know that Louise and David told them that we have asked repeatedly, repeatedly to have them Skype. I wanted the kids to know that there's people that love them and that there's family that love them and I hope to be able to see the children. That's my goal."
Mr Turpin, 57, and Mrs Turpin, 49, were arrested on Sunday with bail set at $9 million each. Charges of torture and child endangerment are likely to be laid, authorities said.