It was usually after midnight when Mike Clifford spotted the children from the house across the street.
Some nights, he’d see about six children — none of whom looked older than 15 — getting into a passenger van with their father and wonder where they could possibly be going at such an hour. Other nights, he’d see them through a second-story window in the Murrieta house, walking in circles for long periods of time.
Clifford, an aerospace machinist who works late shifts, tried to make sense of what he saw. Maybe the children had special needs. Maybe the repetitive circling was therapeutic. Maybe it was just their routine.
“It was kind of strange,” he said. But “there was never anything to say, ‘Oh, my God. I should call somebody.’”
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