The front yard of the house in the quiet neighborhood in Perris, Calif., was often overgrown with weeds nearly six feet tall. There were no toys, no bicycles in the front yard, neighbors said. More than a dozen children supposedly lived inside the home, but they never came outside to play.
Police may now know why.
On Sunday morning, authorities found 13 brothers and sisters held captive in the home, with several shackled to beds with chains and padlocks “in dark and foul-smelling” conditions, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.
The siblings all appeared to be children, so sheriff’s deputies were “shocked” to discover that seven of them were actually adults, according to the news release. The ages of the 13 victims ranged from 2 to 29. They appeared malnourished and dirty and told authorities they were starving.
One of them, a 17-year-old girl, managed to escape early Sunday morning, calling police on a cellphone she found in the home. “She appeared to be only 10 years old and slightly emaciated,” the sheriff’s department said in its news release.
The parents, David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, have been arrested on charges of torture and child endangerment. Their bail is set at $9 million each. They were “unable to immediately provide a logical reason” why their children were shackled and chained, authorities said.
Authorities interviewed the children and provided them with food and drink. The six minors were taken to a hospital and admitted for treatment, the sheriff’s department said. The seven older children were taken to a different medical center and also admitted for treatment.