She "was at our door in a blanket saying we needed to protect her," Bruce DeKalb said. "She said that they were abusing her."
In 2011, Sarah Hart pleaded guilty to a domestic assault charge in Minnesota. Her plea led to the dismissal of a charge of malicious punishment of a child, online court records say.
Max Ribner, who has known the family since 2012, said allegations from neighbors don't square with what he knows about the Harts.
"They are beautiful examples of opening arms to strangers, helping youth, supporting racial equality," Ribner, who lives in Portland, told the AP. "They brought so much joy to the world. They represented a legacy of love."
Bill Groener, 67, was a next-door neighbor of the Harts when they lived in West Linn, Oregon, and said the kids stayed indoors most of the time. He said the family didn't eat sugar, raised their own vegetables, had animals and went on camping trips.
"There was enough positive there to kind of counteract the feeling that something maybe wasn't quite right," Groener said.