California torture family: Police found 13 malnourished children in the Turpin home
When officers entered the suburban home they found several of the 13 siblings “shackled to their beds” in “foul-smelling” conditions.
Police chief Captain Gregg Fellows said the children had suffered “torture” at the hands of their parents.
He said: “If you can imagine being 17 years old and appearing to be a 10 year old, being chained to a bed and being malnourished and injuries associated with that, I would call that torture.”
“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.”
The children range in age from two to 29. Six of the children are minors, including the 17-year-old girl, who police initially believed to be 10.
Mr Fellows last night acknowledged the girl’s bravery in managing to free her siblings.
California torture family: The parents have been arrested by Riverdale police
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Further investigation revealed several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks
Neighbours living on the on Muir Woods Road in Perris, California, said the children were rarely seen outside the house, with others apparently surprised that children lived in the house at all.
Kimberly Milligan, 50, who lives opposite the Turpins, said: “Why don’t we ever see the kids? In hindsight, we would have never thought this, but there were red flags. You never don’t hear or see nine kids.”
Nicole Gooding, 35, who has lived in the neighbourhood for three years, said the first time she saw the family was two months ago when the mother and children were cleaning up their yard, which was full of weeds and overflowing trash cans.
She said: “I had never seen them at all until that day.”
Sherryll Kraizer, a child-abuse prevention expert and the founder of the Coalition for Children, told Reuters: “One of the things that was interesting was, Turpin set up his own home school so the kids were accounted for and not really seen by anybody.”
The California Department of Education lists the Turpin address, where the family has lived since 2014, as the location of the Sandcastle Day School, naming David Turpin as principal.
After the pair’s arrest, pictures emerged of the whole family posing on various day trips – including one of the couple and the kids at Disneyland, wearing matching T-shirts.
Another showed the parents getting married in a Las Vagas style ceremony, with the children gathered round the couple wearing matching dresses and suits.
Turpin hostages: The children were found chained up in the family home
David Allen Turpin’s parents, James and Betty, said they were “surprised and shocked” by the allegations against their son.
Meanwhile, the arrested mum’s sister, Elizabeth Jane Flores, admitted that “something didn’t seem right” in the Turpin household, explaining that she was banned from talking to the children.
She told Daily Mail TV in the USA: “Something didn’t seem right about her parenting but never would I have expected it to be like this.
“We have been so worried about them because it’s been so strange but there was nothing we could do.”
All children have been taken to hospital for urgent treatment, while the parents remain in police custody.
Bail for the pair has been set at £6.5million each and they are due to appear in court tomorrow.