ATLANTA — The Wimbushes seemed like a large and loving family with quirky religious beliefs to neighbors before they disappeared a few days ago.
That’s when Gwinnett Police issued arrest warrants for cruelty to children, contending the parents locked their 13-year-old son in a basement room for two years.
“I don’t think anyone in the neighborhood knew them well, but the kids would be outside playing, they seemed happy,” said Pamela Harris. “When you did see them, they would be all together. The parents would be with them.”
The father, Recardo Wimbush, surrendered Friday night to the Gwinnett County jail, according Deputy S. Volkodav, Gwinnett sheriff’s spokeswoman. The mother, Therian Wimbush, followed shortly; both were booked into jail on charges of cruelty to children and false imprisonment.
The Buford couple have 10 children.
Recardo, 33, and Therian, 37, told a judge at a June 19 family court hearing the 13-year-old was a threat to their other children. The boy said he was being punished for taking the family DVD player and lying about it.
Another neighbor said the children always displayed good manners and were always well-kept. She worried how the kids would do in state custody because the family seemed so tight-knit.
Attempts to reach the Wimbushes or their lawyers for comment were unsuccessful. An undated family website shows deeply religious parents seemingly devoted to a flock of smiling kids and to their religion and “Yah,” a derivative of Yahweh.
Harris said the family didn’t celebrate Halloween — and handed out Bibles instead of candy to trick-or-treaters.
“When she moved in, she asked me how many kids did I have and I said two,” Harris said. “And she asked, ‘How many more are you going to have?’ And I said, ‘None, we’re done.’ She said, ‘I’m having as many as God grants me.’ “