The parents of 13 children in Muir Woods Road, Perris, California, have been arrested after one of their daughters managed to escape and using a mobile phone she had found in the home alert authorities her siblings were being held captive.
Police first believed the 17-year-old girl was no older than 10 as she appeared small in size and emaciated, the report from yesterday claimed.
When they entered the house of horrors, they found “several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings.” They also stated, “The victims appeared to be malnourished and very dirty.”
Police first believed all the children were minors based on their malnourished appearance but it was later discovered they were aged between 2 and 28-years-old – 7 members of the family were aged over 18. Staff at the local hospital were “heartbroken” by their condition.
The parents, David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, “were unable to immediately provide a logical reason why their children were restrained in that manner.”
Bankruptcy documents show that David Turpin, who is listed as a school principal, had family expenses that exceeded his take-home pay by more than $1,000 a month. His wife, Louise Turpin, showed she was not earning an income. The home where the children were found was registered as a school address.
Neighbour Kimberly Milligan, who lives across the street, told the L.A. Times, “We’re not acres apart,” she said. “How did no one see anything?” She added, “I thought the kids were home-schooled,” she said. “You know something is off, but you don’t want to think bad of people.”
They are currently held on $9m (£6.5m) bail.
Anyone with additional information was asked to contact Master Investigator Tom Salisbury at the sheriff’s station in Perris at (951) 210-1000, or by email at PerrisStation@RiversideSheriff.org