A Southern California couple is in custody on suspicion of torture and child endangerment after 12 of their children allegedly were found captive in the couple’s home, with some of them shackled to beds.
David Turpin, 57, and Louise Turpin, 49, were each being held on $9 million bail, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Monday afternoon.
Authorities said the investigation began after a 17-year-old girl “escaped” from the home in Perris and called 911 early Sunday to report that her 12 brothers and sisters were being held by their parents.
The sheriff’s office said investigators initially believed the “slightly emaciated” girl was just 10 years old when they first saw her.
When officers and deputies went to the Turpins’ home, they found “several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings,” according to the sheriff’s office. The statement added that the parents were “were unable to immediately provide a logical reason why their children were restrained in that manner.”
Authorities initially believed that all the victims they found were children. However, investigators eventually discovered that seven of the victims were over 18.
The sheriff’s office said the victims “appeared to be malnourished and very dirty” and were given food and drinks after they “claimed to be starving.” They were sent to two local hospitals for treatment. Their conditions were not immediately known.
The Los Angeles Times, citing public records, reported that the Turpin home’s address was listed as the location of the Sandcastle Day School, a public K-12 institution that opened in 2011.
The Turpins had lived at the address since 2010, the Times reported, and had previously lived in Texas. The couple had declared bankruptcy twice.
Perris is located approximately 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles.