Police have discovered 13 malnourished siblings in a horrifically abusive household in Perris, California. The brothers and sisters were chained and physically starving. They pleaded with officers for food and water after they were freed, according to police.
The 17-year-old who managed to alert the authorities daringly broke out of her prison-like home, managed to grab a cell phone and called 911.
“Early Sunday morning on January 14, 2018, a 17-year old juvenile escaped from her residence situated in the 100 Block of Muir Woods Road, Perris and managed to call 911 from a cellular device she found inside the house,” the release said.
“The teenager claimed her 12 brothers and sisters were being held captive inside the residence by her parents and further claimed some of her siblings were bound with chains and padlocks,” added the release.
Police immediately arrested parents David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, and charged them with torture and child endangerment.
Officers who discovered the children initially believed they were all minors. “Deputies located what they believed to be 12 children inside the house, but were shocked to discover that 7 of them were actually adults, ranging in age from 18 to 29,” the police said, according to the release.
“The victims appeared to be malnourished and very dirty. Perris Station Detectives were dispatched to the residence for further investigation,” police explained. “Child Protective Services (CPS) and Adult Protective Services (APS) arrived to assist in the investigation. The victims were provided with food and beverages after they claimed to be starving.”
The Turpins were reportedly between $100,000 and $500,000 in debt when they filed for bankruptcy back in August 2011.
Ivan Trahan, the couple’s bankruptcy lawyer, explained that the couple spoke fondly of their children, though the attorney never actually saw them himself. ‘They spoke about them highly,” Trahan told the New York Times. “We remember them as very nice couple. This is shocking.”
David Turpin’s parents, James and Betty Turpin, also told ABC News they were “surprised and shocked” at the revelations.
“David and Louise Turpin are considered a good Christian family in their community,” Turpin’s parents added, also detailing that “God called on them,” to have many children.
Photos have surfaced of the couple having their marriage vowels renewed by an Elvis impersonator in Las Vegas. The impersonator featured in the odd photos has spoken out about meeting the parents.
“I’m still disturbed. This is a sad day for everybody, especially the children, I mean they were sitting right around here three different times,” Ripley told Fox5Vegas. He added on Today: “Nothing seemed to be unusual apart from the fact there was a lot of them. They were well behaved and smiled a lot.”
But those in the community noticed some alarming behavior coming from the Turpin’s house at various points. Neighbor Wendy Martinez, who lives behind the family’s property, said that last October she was some of the kids rolling around on the lawn late at night.
“They were on their knees, four little kids, and they were just rolling on the grass. It was odd at that time of night,” she told Daily Mail.
‘Their mother was in the archway, I just remember the mother in the archway, and I said, hi. There was like no movement, not even to look over to see who’s saying hi, like if they were told not to speak to anybody.”
“Honestly, I didn’t see they needed help,” Martinez added.
“I didn’t know there were kids in the house. I had no idea this was going on,” neighbor Andrew Santillan added.
Others described seeing the kids rummaging through the bins for food, but failed to notify authorities as they did not feel it was sinister.
“Nonchalant, looked like they were having fun like a regular family,” neighbor Nicole Gooding told CBS2.
“The older kids, I thought they were, like, 12, because they looked so malnourished, so pale,” Kimberly Milligan added.
The Turpin’s had also registered their California home as a school, with David listed as the principal.
Louise Anna Turpin’s sister has spoken out about how she was not allowed to visit the family in California and has not seen them in 19 years. On one of Louise’s facebook post’s, her sister, author Elizabeth Jane Flores, wrote: “My beautiful niece! I need to go to California! Next vacation!”
“Something didn’t seem right about her parenting but never would I have expected it to be like this,” Flores told DailyMailTV, who insisted that despite keeping in touch by phone, she hadn’t seen her sister in almost two decades.
“We have been so worried about them because it’s been so strange but there was nothing we could do. They wouldn’t let anyone visit and we didn’t know their address. I haven’t seen her in 19 years. We would talk on the phone from time to time, but every time I would ask to talk to her kids, she wouldn’t let me.”
Flores, a mother of seven, previously ran a GoFundMe campaign after her own family was described to be “drowning financially” due to her husband’s health problems and a death in the family.
“She never let us talk to her kids. She wouldn’t even accept my Facebook request. We all wondered what was going on,” Flores further explained to DailyMailTV.
“My parents booked several flights to go see them but when they got there they wouldn’t tell them where to go and my parents left crying every time. They died before they got to see them again. It’s just heartbreaking and I’m so embarrassed about all of this.”