California police discover 13 'emaciated' siblings imprisoned in family home

Thirteen malnourished siblings ranging in age from two to 29 were found imprisoned by their parents in their family home 

Thirteen malnourished siblings ranging in age from two to 29 have been rescued from a home in California where some of them were "shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks".

Their parents, David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were held on charges of torture and child endangerment. They are each charged with nine counts of torture and 10 counts of child endangerment, and ordered held on $9m bail, police said.

Officers made the discovery after a 17-year-old girl escaped the house in Perris, about 70 miles east of Los Angeles, on Sunday, and used a mobile phone she had fund in the house to call them, the Riverside county sheriff’s office said.

Officers said the girl appeared to be "only 10 years old and slightly emaciated".

“Deputies located what they believed to be 12 children inside the house but were shocked to discover that seven of them were actually adults,” police said in a statement. “The victims appeared to be malnourished and very dirty.”

Police officers found "several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings".

The group were found in a neighbourhood of closely spaced one and two-storey, single-family homes. The parents are next due in court on Thursday.

A Facebook picture shows the family at a wedding, with the siblings all dressed in uniform
A Facebook picture shows the family at a wedding, with the siblings all dressed in uniform

Six of the couple’s children were minors, while the other seven were over 18, police said, adding that the siblings told officers they were starving.

"The victims appeared to be malnourished and very dirty," the police said.

But the parents were unable to immediately provide a logical reason why their children were restrained in that manner, the police said.

All the victims are now being treated in local hospitals.

The head of one of the hospitals, Mark Uffer, told Reuters news agency: "It's actually heartbreaking for the staff and it's unbelievable what you see."

Mr Turpin is said to have had a relatively well-paid job as an engineer at aeronautics and defence technology company Northrop Grumman.

However, with so many children and his wife not working, records suggest his expenses exceeded his income. He has twice been declared bankrupt.

Mr Turpin's parents said that their grandchildren were home-schooled but that they had not seen the family for four or five years.

One neighbour told Reuters that the Turpin family "were the type that you didn't really get to know anything about them".

Neighbours said the Turpins rarely emerged from their home.

"You would never see them on visit, you would never see anyone come outside. All you would really see is that they go out and maybe do a grocery round. And that was about it," the neighbour added.

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