PERRIS, Calif. — A California couple has been arrested and is being held on $9 million dollars bail each after their 17-year old daughter was able to escape their home and call 911 to report that she and her 12 siblings were being held captive, some being bound with chains.
David Turpin, 57, and Louise Turpin, 49, are now facing nine counts of torture and 10 counts of child endangerment after police came to the home and found the situation just as the girl had described.
“Further investigation revealed several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings, but the parents were unable to immediately provide a logical reason why their children were restrained in that manner,” the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department reported on Monday night.
It explained that officers thought all of the siblings were children due to their size and condition from malnourishment, but were shocked to learn that seven of them were actually adults, ages 18 to 29.
Capt. Greg Fellows said that the 17-year-old who called 911 from a deactivated cell phone after escaping through a window looked like a 10-year-old.
“If you can imagine being 17 years old and appearing to be a 10-year-old, being chained to a bed, malnourished and the injuries associated with that,” he remarked during a press conference on Tuesday. “I would call that torture.”
All 13 siblings were interviewed and transported to Corona Regional Medical Center, where they were examined and fed.
“It’s hard to think of them as adults when you first see them because they’re small, and it’s clear they’re malnutritioned,” CEO Mark Uffer agreed during a press conference on Tuesday.
Dr. Sophia Grant, who runs the child abuse unit for the hospital system, said that it is more than just food that the children require.
“The long-term needs of these kids are going to be the psychological and psychiatric needs due to the prolonged starvation and maltreatment,” she outlined.
The Turpins’ Facebook page was last utilized in 2016, when they posted photographs of their children at a ceremony where the couple renewed their vows. The children were dressed in matching outfits and appeared to be happy—smiling and jumping up and down. It has not yet been reported as to how long the children were mistreated by their parents.
“I can’t get into the specific details of the conversation, but it seemed that the mother was perplexed as to why we were at that residence,” Fellows said.
ABC News reached out to the parents of David Turpin, James and Betty Turpin of Virginia, who explained that they hadn’t seen the children in several years. They outlined that the Turpins homeschooled their children, who memorized passages from the Bible. The family did not attend a church.
Neighbors told reporters that if any of the children were seen outside, they appeared to be skinny and pale, and were non-social. Kimberly Milligan said that she complimented three of the children once as she saw them outside setting up a nativity scene, but they “froze” and did not respond.
“They still did not say a word,” Milligan told the Washington Post. “They were like children whose only defense was to be invisible.”