- Girl, 17, escaped the home in Perris, California on Sunday by climbing through a window
- Teenager fled the property and called 911 with a deactivated cell phone she had found in the home
- Police said she provided them with photos of the conditions and abuse suffered by her and her 12 siblings
- Some of the siblings were found chained to their beds and begged for food when they were rescued
- The siblings are aged from two to 29 and were found inside a dark and foul-smelling room
- Authorities initially couldn’t work out their ages because they looked so young from being starved
- Parents David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were charged with torture and child endangerment
- The paternal grandparents described the family as very religious and said the parents had so many children because they believed ‘God called on them’ to do so
- The couple had filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and owed up to $500,000 in debt
- David Turpin was earning $140,000 a year as an engineer for a defense contractor and wife stayed at home
- Some neighbors said they didn’t know children lived there, while others compared the kids to vampires from Twilight because they looked so pale
A 17-year-old girl escaped her California home through a window so she could call police and show them photo evidence of the ‘horrific’ conditions she and her 12 siblings were forced to endure by their parents.
The courageous teen, who was so malnourished officers initially believed she was only 10, is being hailed a hero after police were able to rescue her starved brothers and sisters from their home in Perris, California on Sunday.
Authorities found at least three of the Turpin children – aged 2 to 29 – shackled to their beds and furniture with chains and padlocks in a dark, foul-smelling room inside the family home.
The victims, including six children and seven adults, were ‘malnourished and very dirty’. It is not clear how long some of them were chained, padlocked and shackled before they were discovered.
‘We do need to acknowledge the courage of that young girl who escaped,’ Riverside County sheriff’s Capt. Greg Fellows said on Tuesday.
He said the 17-year-old girl managed to escape through a window and call 911 with a deactivated cell phone she had found in the home. When officers interviewed the girl, she provided photos of the conditions and abuse suffered by her and the rest of her siblings.
Police have confirmed that all 13 victims are the biological children of David Allen Turpin, 57, and his 49-year-old wife Louise Anna Turpin. They were both arrested and charged with nine counts of torture and 10 of child endangerment. They are being held on $9million bail pending a court appearance.
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David and Louise Turpin, seen renewing their vows at an Elvis Chapel in Las Vegas in 2015, have been arrested after 13 of their children were found shackled to beds inside their home in Perris, California on Sunday
Parents David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were arrested and charged with torture and child endangerment
The malnourished siblings remain in hospital undergoing treatment and child’s services will now seek a court order to have oversight over the 13 children, including those over the age of 18.
Police confirmed that both David and Louise Turpin were religious but were unable to say if that played a role in holding their children captive.
While still early in the investigation, police said there were no signs that any of the siblings were sexually abused or that the parents were suffering from mental illness.
The sheriff’s captain said the conditions were horrific and amounted to torture.
‘If you can imagine being a 10-year-old and being chained to a bed … I would call that torture,’ he said.
He added that Louise seemed ‘perplexed’ about why police came to their home, but it was unclear how the children’s father reacted.
Deputies had never been called to the home and neither had social service workers.
‘The victims appeared to be malnourished and very dirty. Perris Station Detectives were dispatched to the residence for further investigation,’ police said.
Corona Regional Medical Center CEO Mark Uffer said his facility is treating seven of the adult children.
‘It’s hard to think of them as adults, they are so small,’ Uffer said, adding that they clearly malnourished but stable and very friendly.
‘I believe they are hopeful life will get better for them after this event.’
Police originally thought all of the victims were children but soon discovered seven of them were adults. The family are pictured above in a photo taken around 2015
‘Things 1 to 13’: The family are seen in Dr Seuss-style shirts, and all in blue jeans, in a family photo posted in April 2016
Police found the siblings inside their family home (above) after the 17-year-old girl managed to escape through a window and call 911 with a cell phone she had found in the house
Police said the 17-year-old girl bravely managed to escape through a window of the home and notify authorities
Riverside County sheriff’s Capt. Greg Fellows praised the 17-year-old girl on Tuesday after she managed to escape through a window and call 911 with a cell phone she had found in the home
Video courtesy of the Vegas Chapel
The Turpins were believed to be dogged by debt and filed for bankruptcy twice – once in Texas and again in 2011 after moving to California.
Records show the large family’s expenses exceed Turpin’s pay by just over $1,000 a month. He previously worked for Lockheed Martin but left the job in 2010.
Court documents show that David had tried to keep his 2010 Ford Mustang in the bankruptcy proceedings but a judge eventually ordered for him to give it up.
Their bankruptcy lawyer, Ivan Trahan, told the New York Times that the couple often spoke fondly of their children but he never saw them.
‘They spoke about them highly,’ Trahan said. ‘We remember them as very nice couple. This is shocking.’
They are believed to have moved to California from Texas around 2010. The Turpins lived in Murrieta first before purchasing their current four-bedroom home in Perris in August 2014 for $351,000.
Their house in Perris is also the address of Sandcastle Day School – a private school registered in 2014-15 so David Turpin could home-school six of his children. In the 2016-17 school year, it had an enrollment of six students – one each in the fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth, 10th and 12th grades. As a private school, there are no laws that require it to be inspected.
David Turpin’s parents, James and Betty Turpin, told ABC News they were ‘surprised and shocked’ at the allegations.
The couple, who live in West Virginia, said they had not visited the family for four or five years but had spoken to them on the phone, although not with their grandchildren.
The grandparents described the family as very religious and said they were Pentecostal Christian.
They said the parents had so many children because they believed ‘God called on them’ to do so. They added that the ‘very strict homeschooling’ would involve the children memorizing long Bible passages and even attempting to memorize the entire book.
The Turpin family, as well as extended relatives, are seen enjoying a holiday at Disneyland in California in 2011
They have had marriage-renewal ceremonies in Las Vegas by an Elvis impersonator at least three times in 2011 (pictured above), 2013 and 2015
The shocking allegations provide a stark contrast to the life shown on David and Louise’s joint Facebook page. They appear to have had marriage-renewal ceremonies in Las Vegas by an Elvis impersonator at least three times in 2011, 2013 and 2015.
Their children were present at the ceremonies and are seeing posing for photos in 2015 in matching outfits for the boys and the girls. The 10 girls are all dressed in pink dresses with white tights and white shoes, while the boys are seen in suits with purple ties – and bowl haircuts like their father.
HOW DID THE TURPIN FAMILY GO UNNOTICED?
Police said on Tuesday they wished they had an answer as to how the Turpin children ended up in the situation they did.
The family had lived in Perris, California since 2014 but deputies had never been called to the residence previously for any reason.
Social workers had also never visited the home.
State Department of Education records show the family home has the same address as Sandcastle Day School, where David Turpin is listed as principal.
Six of the children were homeschooled. In the 2016-17 school year, it had an enrollment of six with one student each in the fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth, 10th and 12th grades.
As a private school, there are no laws that require it to be inspected.
Family have said they were never invited over to their home, but thought they were living the dream life based on Facebook photos of their trips to Disneyland and Las Vegas.
Neighbors have described the family as intensely private, with some saying they did not even know children lived in the home.
Footage of the ceremony posted online showed the smiling children awkwardly dancing and clicking their fingers behind their parents.
Another ceremony with the same Elvis impersonator in 2013 – prior to their youngest child being born – shows the children wearing the same outfits. Photographs from 2011 show the couple by themselves, but impersonator Kent Ripley said the children were in attendance that time as well.
‘I’m still disturbed. This is a sad day for everybody, especially the children, I mean they were sitting right around here three different times,’ Ripley told Fox5Vegas. He added on Today: ‘Nothing seemed to be unusual apart from the fact there was a lot of them. They were well behaved and smiled a lot’.
Other pictures show the family smiling on several trips to Disneyland, while another shows them wearing Dr Seuss-style shirts, with each child’s top emblazoned with ‘Thing 1’ to ‘Thing 13’.
It also features several photos of the youngest child when she was a baby in late 2015. She was often pictured posing with her mother, including in a Snow White costume, inside a Krispy Kreme store and at a lake.
The last public images that appeared on the Facebook page were posted in July 2016.
Speaking to CNN, grandmother Betty Turpin said the parents made the children dress alike for safety reasons. She describes how the children would line up according to age and the mother and father would walk in front and back of the line.
‘They were very protective of the kids. This is a highly respectable family.’
Louise’s sister Elizabeth Jane Flores, 41, told DailyMailTV that he was never allowed to visit her sibling in California and knew something was ‘not right’ about her parenting.
She said she had not seen Louise in 19 years, and while she still kept in touch with her sister by telephone, Turpin refused to invite her over to her home and never let her speak to her nieces and nephews.
‘She never let us talk to her kids. She wouldn’t even accept my Facebook request. We all wondered what was going on. My parents booked several flights to go see them but when they got there they wouldn’t tell them where to go and my parents left crying every time. They died before they got to see them again. It’s just heartbreaking and I’m so embarrassed about all of this,’ she said.
Meanwhile her other sister Teresa Robinette told NBC: ‘We always thought she was living the perfect life. She would tell us they went to Disneyland all the time, they would go to Vegas.’
The couple are pictured above on a neighbor’s surveillance cameras being arrested on Sunday morning
House of horrors: The victims, all siblings aged between two and 29 years old, were being held captive in a home in Perris, California, police said. Media are seen outside the house
Loved-up: Pictures on Facebook show the Turpins renewing their vows in 2015, with their children next to them at the altar
Playing happy families: The Turpins are pictured smiling at the most recent of their vow renewals, which was conducted by an Elvis impersonator in Las Vegas
Tradition: The couple are seen in a picture from 2011, renewing their vows in front of the same Elvis impersonator
More than once: The family are gathered for yet another vow-renewal ceremony in 2013, with the children dressed in the outfits which were then re-used three years later
DISNEY-OBSESSED PARENTS ARRESTED FOR IMPRISONING 13 CHILDREN
The parents accused of starving and keeping their 13 children chained up inside their home had an obsession with Disneyland, according to the multiple family trips they took to the theme park and their ‘DSLAND’ car licence plates.
David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were both arrested at their home in Perris, California on Sunday after their 17-year-old daughter managed to escape and call 911.
But the shocking allegations made against David and Louise are in stark contrast to the life they publicly portrayed on their joint Facebook page.
David and Louise are pictured above smiling with their children and Disney Princess Jasmine. The photo was posted in 2012
Photos posted on Facebook between 2010 and 2012 show that the couple took their children to Disneyland on at least two separate occasions.
David and Louise are pictured smiling with their children in front of the theme park’s iconic castle and posing with Disney characters, including Mickey Mouse, Princess Jasmine and Winnie the Pooh’s Eeyore.
Just like all of their family photos, the children are pictured wearing matching outfits.
Photos posted on Facebook between 2010 and 2012 show that the couple took their children to Disneyland on at least two separate occasions
Just like all of their family photos, the children are pictured wearing matching outfits
Some of the younger children wore the same Disney-themed outfits on both family trips to the theme park. The trips occurred prior to the birth of their youngest daughter, who is now aged two.
Meanwhile, two of the four cars parked outside the family’s home in Perris when they were arrested also appear to have licence plates linked to Disneyland.
One of the plates on a Volkswagen Beetle reads ‘DSLAND’.
The other, which is also on Volkswagen, says ‘DL4EVER’. There has been speculation that the second plate could also mean David and Louise forever.
One of the plates on a Volkswagen parked outsdie their home reads: ‘DL4EVER’. There has been speculation that the second plate could also mean David and Louise forever
One of the personalized plates on a Volkswagen Beetle reads ‘DSLAND’
Neighbors said the family were unusual and reclusive, with some saying they did not even know children lived in the home.
Housewife Wendy Martinez, 41, who lives in a home behind the single-story ranch-style property, told DailyMail.com she saw four of the children kneeling in the front yard late at night at the end of October, looking emaciated and pale.
‘They were on their knees, four little kids, and they were just rolling on the grass. It was odd at that time of night.
‘Their mother was in the archway, I just remember the mother in the archway, and I said, hi. There was like no movement, not even to look over to see who’s saying hi, like if they were told not to speak to anybody. ‘
Asked whether she thought the children needed help, she told DailyMail.com: ‘Honestly, I didn’t see they needed help.’
Another neighbor said Louise Turpin was defiant when cops arrived at the home on Sunday. They said she ‘smirked’ and ‘spat twice down at the floor’.
Andrew Santillan, who lives nearby, told Press-Enterprise: ‘I didn’t know there were kids in the house. I had no idea this was going on.’
Others said they had seen the children digging for food in the garbage bins, but had not taken notice as it did not look sinister.
‘Nonchalant, looked like they were having fun like a regular family,’ neighbor Nicole Gooding told CBS2.
‘The older kids, I thought they were, like, 12, because they looked so malnourished, so pale,’ Kimberly Milligan added.
Another neighbor, Andria Valdez, said she had seen the children before, joking that they were like the vampire family in the Twilight books and films because they were ‘really, really pale’ and ‘only came out at night’.
Another local said the children were seen building a Nativity scene in the front yard of their home a few years ago, but were ‘weird about it’ when complimented on their work.
The couple’s joint Facebook page features several photos of the youngest child when she was a baby in late 2015. She was often pictured posing with her mother outside the house, including dressed as Disney Princess Snow White (left)
David and Louise are pictured in front of Disneyland’s iconic castle appearing to hold Tinker Bell. The photo appeared on Facebook in October 2010 and was one of multiple trips to the theme park
The Turpins were arrested and charged with nine counts of torture and 10 of child endangerment. Neither of them have a serious criminal record. Camera crews are seen outside the home on Monday
‘THEY SEEMED LIKE THE PERFECT FAMILY’: NEIGHBORS
HORRIFIED TO DISCOVER PARENTS’ HORRIFIC SECRET
Wendy Martinez thought the Turpins were the perfect family
Four of the children living in the California house of horrors were seen less than two months ago looking ‘very thin and very albino’, a neighbor has said.
Housewife Wendy Martinez, 41, who lives in a home behind the single-story ranch-style property, told DailyMail.com she saw four of the children kneeling in the front yard late at night at the end of October.
She said the quartet looked emaciated and pale, and appeared to have been instructed not to respond when she tried to say hello to them.
‘It was about 9pm at night and we came around right here and at the gate, we saw four children inside,’ Martinez said.
‘They were on their knees, four little kids, and they were just rolling on the grass. It was odd at that time of night.
‘Their mother was in the archway, I just remember the mother in the archway, and I said, hi. There was like no movement, not even to look over to see who’s saying hi.
‘No movement, like if they were told not to speak to anybody. The mom, no movement at all.’
Asked whether she thought the children needed help, she told DailyMail.com: ‘Honestly, I didn’t see like they needed help.
‘They were in their yard. It was awkward that it was at 9pm at night but they were in their yard.’
David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were arrested Sunday after 13 adults and children aged between two and 29 were found inside their four-bedroom Perris home.
Some of the children had been shackled to their beds and, cops said, were being held in ‘a foul-smelling room’.
The Turpins purchased the house, which sits on a quiet well-to-do street, for $351,000 in August 2014 – later registering it as a school.
Sitting within a new development, the house had been a model home and was, said Dennis Cooke, 61, ‘already tricked out with custom fittings’ when they moved in.
Cooke, who works at Home Depot in Perris, said he had been shown around the property before the Turpins moved in, adding: ‘This one was very beautiful, it was already tricked out with custom fittings, the backyard done, the landscaping done.’
But he said the spacious four-bedroom home is nowhere near large enough for 15 occupants, telling DailyMail.com: ‘Oh no, no. Absolutely not. I would say a normal family, if they had six children, it could be adequate but 13, no. absolutely not.’
Neighbor Dennis Cooke did not the think the Turpins’ ‘beautiful’ home was big enough to house 13 children
Although the Turpins were understood to be running a school from the house, neighbors said they saw no sign of parents arriving to drop off their children – and most said they had no idea that a young family lived in the property.
‘You know what, I drive past this way every day but I’ve never seen the family or anything,’ said nurse Janeece Calhoun, 21. ‘Never anybody coming in or out.’
Neighbor Michelle Walls, 47, added: ‘You would think you would have heard them. In our neighborhood, kids are usually out playing, shooting hoops. Going to the park.
‘I’m surprised I never saw them because most kids need to go outside and play.’
Martinez says she last saw a member of the family a month ago, when she spotted one of the couple’s teenage daughters drive past in a red Volkswagen Jetta, which was seen parked outside the home today.
She said: One of the girls was coming in in the red Jetta. They were in and out. I think it was one of the girls, I don’t know which one it was, but as I was going out, she was coming in. She’d been out.’
Martinez added: ‘It’s weird – you never know what’s going on. They’ve got three cars and that [mini]van. They move it, there’s no cobwebs.
‘They’re mobile. I don’t understand why they would wait so long to say something. Looking at their pictures, they seemed like the perfect family.’
Shocked neighbors gathered on the street as police investigate the home where 12 siblings were found shackled