KRON - PERRIS, CA (KRONAP) - A 17-year-old girl called police after escaping from her family's home where she and her 12 brothers and sisters were locked up in filthy conditions, some so malnourished officers at first believed all were children even though seven are adults.
The girl, who was so small officers initially believed she was only 10, called 911 and was met by police who interviewed her and then went to the family home in Perris, about 70 miles southeast of Los Angeles. They found several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark, foul-smelling surroundings, according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.
The children, ages 2 to 29, "appeared to be malnourished and very dirty," according to a press release announcing Sunday's arrest of the parents. "The victims were provided with food and beverages after they claimed to be starving."
David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, each were held on $9 million bail and could face charges including torture and child endangerment.
It wasn't immediately known if they had attorneys.
State Department of Education records show the family home has the same address as Sandcastle Day School, where David Turpin is listed as principal. In the 2016-17 school year it had an enrollment of six with one student in each of the fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth, 10th and 12th grades.
Neighbors said they were stunned by the arrests. Andrew Santillan, who lives around the corner, heard about the case from a friend.
"I had no idea this was going on," he told the Press-Enterprise of Riverside. "I didn't know there were kids in the house."
Other neighbors described the family as intensely private.
A few years ago, Robert Perkins said he and his mother saw a few family members constructing a Nativity scene in the Turpins' front yard. Perkins said he complimented them on it.
"They didn't say a word," he said.
The Turpins filed for bankruptcy in 2011, stating in court documents they owed between $100,000 and $500,000, The New York Times reported. At that time, Turpin worked as an engineer at Northrop Grumman and earned $140,000 annually and his wife was a homemaker, records showed.
Their bankruptcy lawyer, Ivan Trahan, told the Times he never met the children but the couple "spoke about them highly."
"We remember them as a very nice couple," Trahan said, adding that Louise Turpin told him the family loved Disneyland and visited often.
From the Riverside County Sheriff's Department:
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 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.
When Police Officers from the Perris Police Department and Deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department met with the juvenile, she appeared to be only 10 years old and slightly emaciated. After a brief interview with the female, they contacted 57-year old David Allen Turpin and 49-year old Louise Anna Turpin at the residence where the teenager escaped.
Further investigation revealed several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings, but the parents were unable to immediately provide a logical reason why their children were restrained in that manner. 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 victims appeared to be malnourished and very dirty. Perris Station Detectives were dispatched to the residence for further investigation.
All 13 victims, ranging from the age of 2 to 29, were transported to the Perris Station and interviewed. Both parents were detained and transported to the station for further investigation. 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 six children were eventually transported to the Riverside University Hospital System (RUHS) for medical examinations and admitted for treatment. The seven adult children were transported to Corona Regional Medical Center for an examination and admitted for medical treatment.
Both parents were interviewed in this matter and subsequently transported to the Robert Presley Detention Center (RPDC). They were booked for violations of California Penal Code Section 206-Torture and Section 273a(A)-Child Endangerment. Bail was set at $9,000,000.00 each.