Siblings held captive in filthy California home, police say

The Turpin family

They could face charges including torture and child endangerment.

Riverside County Sheriff's officials said they discovered the victims, who are between two to 29 years old years old, after their sister escaped with a cellphone and contacted authorities.

Investigators said the unnamed girl had called 911 with a de-activated mobile phone.

"I need to acknowledge courage of the young girl who escaped from that residence", Fellows said.

The 13 children ranging from aged 2 to 29 rarely left their dishevelled house and, when they did, they appeared small and pale and acted strangely, neighbours said. On top of being in chains and padlocked, the victims were also living in squalor and malnourished, investigators said.

"It seemed that the mother was perplexed as to why we were at that residence", he said of the Sunday encounter.

Sheriff's deputies went to the home and found 12 victims who "appeared malnourished and very dirty" with several shackled to their beds "in dark and foul-smelling surroundings", the sheriff's department said. Child and Adult Protective Services arrived to assist with the investigation.

The Turpins moved into the property in 2014 and apparently schooled their children at home.

Corona Regional Medical Center CEO Mark Uffer says his facility is treating seven of the adult children.

Riverside County Sheriff's Office police chief Gregory Fellows
Image Police chief Gregory Fellows spoke to reporters about the girl’s escape

Kimberly Milligan, who lives across the street, told the Los Angeles Times that over the years she sometimes saw three children who looked like preteens coming out of the house to get into a vehicle with their parents. "But it answers the questions I had: Why didn't I see the kids?" The parents of the male suspect have expressed shock at the news and reportedly said the family was deeply religious and the parents felt called by God to have so many children. But there were red flags. "They were never mean, but the vibe I got was - you stay in your zone and I'll stay in zone", Milligan said. Milligan said she asked herself.

According to the police report, the couple, identified as 57-year-old David Turpin and 49-year-old Louise Turpin, are the owners of the Sandcastle Day School, a private K-12 school, which operates in the couple's house. Neighbors said Louise and Allen Turpin were standoffish, never saying hello or interacting with the rest of the neighborhood. 'They didn't want to have a social conversation'. "I didn't know there were kids in the house".

The parents home-schooled the children strictly and required them to memorize long passages from the Bible, David Turpin's parents, James and Betty Turpin of West Virginia, told ABC News. "David Turpin is listed as the principal".

Unable to keep up with the family's expenses, Turpin filed for bankruptcy in 2011, an attorney who represented him, Ivan Trahan, told Reuters on Tuesday.

Mr Turpin said he first heard about the matter on Monday night in a call from a reporter.

Photos posted on what appeared to be David and Louise Turpin's shared Facebook account showed the family took trips to Disneyland and Las Vegas.

One video shows the couple exchanging renewal vows in front of an Elvis impersonator.

David and Louise Turpin are accused of starving and torturing their 13 children.

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