A California couple is facing torture and child-endangerment charges, accused of holding their 13 children captive. The family lives in the city of Perris, about two hours from Los Angeles.
Police made the discovery after a 17-year-old girl escaped and called police.
CGTN’s Jessica Stone has more.
Officials said they found a modern-day horror when they entered the Turpin home: a foul smell, extremely dirty conditions, and they told reporters it was immediately clear that the siblings were malnourished.
The children are already being treated for prolonged starvation, and over the long-term, will receive treatment for the psychological impacts that come along with not eating properly.
Authorities said the parents, 57-year old David Allen Turpin and 49-year old Louise Anna Turpin, are each being held on $9 million bail.
According to police, three of the children were found shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks, kept in dark and unclean conditions inside the Riverside County home. Deputies originally thought they had located 12 children, but later discovered seven were actually severely malnourished adults. Their ages range from 2 to 29-years-old.
There are also reports they were abused. The director of child protective services said the department is seeking a court order to keep the children.
The family kept an active Facebook page, showing what appeared to be a happy group smiling and taking vacations. Neighbors now said, however, that they did notice something unusual: the kids were pale, thin, afraid, and rarely out of the house.
One neighbor noticed them out late at night cleaning the front yard.
“They were all… you could tell they were cautious. Like they did not want to look at people.”
Authorities said there were no prior calls, from family or neighbors, alerting police to the situation inside the home. The 17-year-old girl who escaped and called police is now being heralded as a hero.
Even though the older siblings had access to cars, it’s unclear why they never left or reported the situation to police.