What happened in that huddled, brown house must have been scenes straight out of a horror movie. 13 siblings, children and young adults, have been held captive there by their parents. Some had little to eat or drink, some were chained to the bed.
The martyrdom in california only ended when one of the children found a cell phone in the house – and was able to escape.
On sunday, a 17-year-old girl managed to call the police for help. This is how the district sheriff’s office in riverside reported it. They were held captive with their twelve siblings by their own parents. Police drive off to perris, which is a good hour’s drive away in southeast los angeles. The officers are confronted with frightening images.
They find 13 people, ranging in age from two to 29 years old. Six of them are children, seven are young adults. In the reports, their environment is described as dark, it smelled foul. Some of the siblings were tied to their beds with chains and padlocks. The 13 were malnourished and very dirty.
How long did the brothers and sisters have to live under these cruel conditions?? At first, no one could answer this question. The parents, who should know, don’t either. The police report said neither the father (57) nor the mother (49) could explain why they were holding their children.
When the police came to the house, they first thought that the victims were all minors, because they were so badly fed. The police officers were shocked when they realized that seven of those found were adults. The 17-year-old, whose escape on sunday revealed the crime, looked like a 10-year-old girl.
The 13 siblings were first taken to the police station, where they were given drinks and food. After that they were taken to the surrounding hospitals for treatment, children and adults separately.
The parents were arrested, looking serious and forceful into the camera of the police photos. Father and mother face charges of aggravated abuse and endangering a ward. A very high bail of nine million US dollars was set for both of them.
How can such an act happen? Such a horror, which was bound to develop over a period of time, completely escapes the public eye? Can 13 siblings be kept in a house of horrors for a long period of time without anyone noticing??
As reported by the "new york times", the father had received permission from the state of california to operate a private school in his home. Six schoolchildren were registered. The LA times reported that the family had moved from texas to california several years ago, and that the parents had twice filed for bankruptcy.
Neighbors in perris told U.S. Media they had seen the children only rarely or not at all. Only occasionally did she see children get into a car, neighbor kimberly milligan told the LA times. Yes, she was surprised because they were so pale, she said. "I thought these children were being home-schooled. Man woman, something is strange, but you do not want to think bad of other people."
Neighborhoods in the U.S. Have two sides that couldn’t be more different, especially in small towns. On the one hand, people look out for each other, they care for each other, they are enormously helpful and stick together. On the other hand, the private space, individuality and personal freedom are extremely highly respected. You don’t interfere, you leave each other alone.
The parents of the arrested father told ABC news they were "surprised and shocked" by the allegations. The grobel parents, who live in the state of west virginia, had last visited their son and his family four or five years ago. They said their son and his wife were strictly religious. God had called them to have so many children.