How did they get away with crimes?

The most unsettling aspect of the case of David and Louise Turpin — and it should be disturbing — is how they managed to victimize their children for so long.

Not until their 17-year-old daughter managed to escape from the Turpins’ house of horrors did anyone even notice what had been going on. Now, authorities say the Turpins had been chaining their 13 children to furniture, starving them and often not allowing them to use a toilet.

It appears this may have been going on for decades. The oldest child is 29.

When arrested, the Turpins were living in California, but they had moved around the country. In his younger years, David Turpin lived in Princeton, W.Va., though there is no record of any misdeeds there.

Many questions about the case need to be answered. One is how the Turpins controlled the children, sometimes seen smiling in pictures with their parents during trips, to the point that nothing appeared amiss.

Another question is why state officials who were supposed to at least inspect the Turpins’ home, because the children were listed as home schooled, did not.

But, possibly for decades, no one appears to have been aware of what the Turpins were doing to their children.

Here, we like to think we know our neighbors, that both individually and as a society, we watch out for the welfare of children. We have local and state agencies that do that, too.

It is worth asking, however: Could the Turpins have gotten away with their crimes for so long in our states and communities?