A 17-year old girl who said she was being held captive by her parents in her home in Perris, California, escaped Sunday and alerted the authorities, who then rescued her 12 siblings — several of whom were found shackled to their beds — the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department reported Monday.
The 17-year-old, who escaped from the house early Sunday, used a phone she found in the home to call the police with her startling claim about her siblings being held against their will, the police said. Officers found the girl’s 12 siblings — who range in age from 2 to 29 — in the foul-smelling house, living in the dark without access to adequate food or water, the authorities said.
Some of the children were restrained with chains and padlocks. “The parents were unable to immediately provide a logical reason why their children were restrained in that manner,” the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
The officers did not immediately recognize that seven of the 13 siblings were adults because they were so malnourished. The sheriff’s office said that the 17-year-old girl who called 911 looked to be 10 years old.
Their parents, David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were arrested on charges of torture and child endangerment. They were being held in jail with bail set at $9 million each, the authorities said.
The sheriff’s office did not say how long the siblings may have been held captive.
Sheriff’s deputies provided food and water to the siblings, who were later transported to hospitals for treatment. Their conditions were not released.
California records show that Turpin had received state approval to run a private school, the Sandcastle Day School, at his home in Perris. The school enrolled six students this year, in grades 6 through 12, and Turpin was listed as the principal.