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Thirteen siblings 'held captive' by parents, some shackled, officials say

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 11:43:03 +0000

Riverside County Sheriff's Department(PERRIS, Calif.) -- An investigation is underway in California after 13 siblings ages 2 to 29 were allegedly held captive in a home, some "shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks," the Riverside County Sheriff's Department said in a press release.

Two parents, 57-year-old David Allen Turpin and 49-year-old Louise Anna Turpin, were arrested in the torture and child engagement case in Perris, about 27 miles south of San Bernardino.

The investigation began early Sunday morning when a 17-year-old girl allegedly escaped from the home and called 911, claiming that her 12 brothers and sisters were being held captive there, the sheriff's office said.

Responding officers said the teen "appeared to be only 10 years old and slightly emaciated."

Inside the home was a shocking scene.

Several children were "shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings," the sheriff's office said. "The victims appeared to be malnourished and very dirty."

Seven of the victims were adults, ranging in age from 18 to 29, the sheriff's office said. The others were children as young as 2. The victims -- who authorities say claimed to be starving -- were given food and drinks and interviewed, the sheriff's office said. They were then hospitalized for treatment, the authorities said.

The parents were interviewed and later booked on charges of torture and child endangerment, the sheriff's office said. Bail was set at $9 million each.

David Turpin's parents, James and Betty Turpin of West Virginia, told ABC News they are “surprised and shocked” by the allegations against their son and daughter-in-law.

James and Betty Turpin said they hadn't seen their son and daughter-in-law since visiting them in California some four to five years ago. However, they said they have kept in touch with them by phone since. They told ABC News they had not spoken to their grandchildren, saying David Turpin or his wife would often call when they were without the children, who are homeschooled.

The distraught grandparents added that David and Louise Turpin are considered a good Christian family in their community, saying they can't understand “any of this.”

James and Betty Turpin told ABC News "God called on them" to have as many children as they did, in reference to David and Louise.

The arrested couple's parents also said the children were given "very strict homeschooling," and that the children would memorize long passages of the bible. Some of the kids' goal was to memorize it in its entirety, said the couple.

Last time the grandparents visited they noticed the children “looked thin,” they said, but they seemed like a “happy family.”

The sheriff's office said it's believed that all of the victims were their biological children.

Neighbors told ABC News they were shocked to learn the family had as many children in the house as they did, saying they had only recently seen any children outside at all.

It's unclear how long the victims were held inside the home, the authorities said.

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