After a 17-year-old girl who was reportedly being held captive by her parents managed to escape and alert authorities, police in Los Angeles rescued her 12 other siblings — some of whom were chained to their beds and extremely emaciated.
On Sunday, the unidentified 17-year-old found a cellphone in her home and called the police with a disturbing report of child captivity, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department confirmed to the New York Times.
When police arrived to the house in Perris, California, they found 12 siblings — ages 2 to 29 — in a dark, filthy house with very little food and water. Some of the children were shackled to their beds with restraints and padlocks, said police.
David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were both arrested on nine counts each of torture and child endangerment. They were being held in jail with bail set at $9 million each, reported the New York Times.
“The parents were unable to immediately provide a logical reason why their children were restrained in that manner,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.
Although the victim who called 911 is 17 years old, police officers said she looked to be about 10 years old because she was severely malnourished. In fact, seven of the adult-aged siblings were not recognized as being older due to how emaciated they were.
Sheriff’s deputies provided food and water to the siblings, who were later transported to an area hospital for exams and treatments. Their conditions were not released.
Roberto Gomez, who lives behind the Turpins, said the family kept lights on inside the house all the time, yet they were rarely seen outside.
Another neighbor, Andria Valdez, told the Press-Enterprise her family would sometimes joke about the Turpin family being like the Cullen family of vampires from the Twilight series.
“They only came out at night,” she told the news outlet. “They were really, really pale.”
According to California records, the Turpin parents received state approval to run a private school, the Sandcastle Day School, at their home. The couple also filed for bankruptcy in California in 2011 and were reportedly owed between $100,000 and $500,000 in debt. At that time, Mr. Turpin worked as an engineer at Northrop Grumman, where he earned $140,000 annually.
(Photos from left: Riverside County Sheriff’s Office)