LOS ANGELES - Thirteen malnourished siblings, ranging in age from 2 to 29, were rescued by police in California from a house where some of them had been chained to beds, and their parents have been charged with torture, officials said.
The siblings found chained to their beds in their family home begged police for food after they were rescued following a daring escape by their brave sister, it has been revealed. The thirteen brothers and sisters - including the 17-year-old girl who fled the home and alerted the police - were all desperately malnourished and pleaded with officers for food and water after they were freed, police say.
The family, from Perris, California, were found by police from Riverside County Sheriff's Department on Sunday morning. It is not known how long they were chained, padlocked and shackled before they were discovered. They were only freed after their sister broke out of the home, grabbed a cell phone and called 911, leading police to arrest their parents David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, before charging them with torture and child endangerment.
It has now been revealed that their parents filed for bankruptcy back in 2011 and were up to $500,000 in debt, despite David Turpin earning $140,000 a year as an engineer for a top defense contractor.
The siblings, aged from two to 29 years old, were immediately taken to hospital after they were saved from the 'foul-smelling' room on Sunday morning.
'The victims appeared to be malnourished and very dirty. Perris Station Detectives were dispatched to the residence for further investigation,' police said.
'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 Turpins, who recently renewed their wedding vows in an Elvis wedding in Las Vegas and loved taking their family to Disneyland, were between $100,000 and $500,000 in debt when they filed for bankruptcy in 2011, the New York Times reported.
Their bankruptcy lawyer, Ivan Trahan, told the New York Times that the couple often spoke fondly of their children but he never saw them.
Neighbors said the family was unusual and reclusive, with some saying they did not even know children lived in the home.
Police originally thought all of the victims were children but soon discovered seven were adults.
David Turpin's parents, James and Betty Turpin, told ABC News they were 'surprised and shocked' at the news.
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.
State records appear to suggest David Turpin home-schooled his six children at their address, calling it Sandcastle Day School.
The grandparents describe the family as very religious and say the 'very strict homeschooling' would involve the children memorizing long Bible passages and even attempting to memorize the entire book.
Pictures on Facebook show the Turpins renewing their vows at a 2016 wedding ceremony at the Elvis Chapel in downtown Las Vegas by an Elvis impersonator, with 13 children posing for photos 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.
The Turpins appear to have made the renewal of their vows in the Elvis Chapel a tradition. Their Facebook page shows the couple and their children wearing the same outfits as in the 2016 ceremony - posing with the same Elvis impersonator - in 2013.
Photographs from 2011 show the couple by themselves, but impersonator Kent Ripley said the children were in attendance..
'I'm still disturbed,' Mr Ripley told Fox5Vegas. 'This is a sad day for everybody, especially the children, I mean they were sitting right around here three different times
'They seemed to care about each other and care about the kids. They seemed to smile, the kids were smiling they didn't hide behind themselves, they were very quiet.'
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'.
Speaking to CNN, 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.
Mr and Mrs Turpin were arrested and charged with nine counts of torture and 10 of child endangerment. Neither of them have a serious criminal record.
The couple are being held at Robert Presley Detention Center east of Los Angeles and their bail has been set at $9million. They will appear in court on Thursday.