UPDATE: The Wimbushes will be spending Independence Day in jail. They have their next hearing scheduled before a Gwinnett magistrate on July 10.
On Saturday, a magistrate denied bond for the Buford couple who became the center of a child cruelty case that shocked people who knew them.
The July 10 hearing will be at 1:30 p.m., said Kirk Williamson, spokesman for the Gwinnett County sheriff. They turned themselves in Friday.
ORIGINAL REPORT: The Wimbushes seemed like a large and loving family with quirky religious beliefs to neighbors before they disappeared from sight a few days ago.
That’s when Gwinnett Police issued arrest warrants for cruelty to children, contending the parents kept their 13-year-old son locked in a basement room for two years in a bizarre case in which the image of the family seemed at odds with the charges.
“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 to the Gwinnett County jail around 7 p.m. Friday, according Deputy S. Volkodav, spokeswoman for the Gwinnett sheriff. The mother, Therian Wimbush, followed shortly after him to also be booked into jail on charges of cruelty to children and false imprisonment.
The Buford couple has 10 children, three of which they had when married during their Georgia Tech days where Recardo was a football star and team captain in 2002; Therian was a tutor and earned dual degrees from Spelman College and Tech.
Recardo, 33, and Therian, 37, told investigators they had locked their 13-year-old son in a room in the basement for “disciplinary reasons,” said Cpl. Jake Smith, spokesman for Gwinnett Police.
Another neighbor described them as a private but friendly family whose children always displayed good manners and were always well-kept. She worried how kids were doing in state custody because the family seemed so tight-knit.
Ashley Fielding, spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services, said privacy laws prohibit disclosing whether it has had previous contact with the Wimbush family unless a child suffers death or serious physical injury.
The Wimbushes 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.
“The parents only allowed (the boy) to step outside the bedroom two or three times day to eat, use the bathroom and brush his teeth occasionally. (The boy) was not allowed upstairs and had not seen his siblings in a year.”
Attempts to reach the Wimbushes or their lawyers for comment were unsuccessful. An undated family website shows deeply religious parents seemingly devoted to their flock of happy smiling kids and to their religion and “Yah,” a derivative of Yahweh.
Harris said the family appeared to be deeply immersed in its esoteric religion, noting it didn’t celebrate Halloween — and handed out Bibles instead of candy to trick or treaters. The family seemed dedicated to the command to be fruitful and multiply.
“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.”
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