A California man and woman are behind bars after a teen girl reportedly broke away from her home on Monday, called authorities, and told them her 12 siblings were locked inside, shackled and starving.
NBC4 reports that officers with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department arrived to a house in Perris, California, after a 17-year-old girl told them she stole a cellphone from the home, escaped from its horrid conditions, and called for help. According to responding officers, an additional 12 people were found inside the “foul-smelling” home, shackled in chains to filthy beds. All of the victims were the children of David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49.
“Deputies located what they believed to be 12 children inside the house, but were shocked to discover that 7 of them were actually adults, ranging in age from 18 to 29,” the police statement read. “The victims appeared to be malnourished and very dirty.”
The Press-Enterprise reports that victims, who “claimed to be starving,” were given water and food immediately. Authorities reported that they appeared malnourished and in need of medical assistance. They were taken to a local hospital for a medical checkup. The California Child Protective Services and Adult Protective Services will take care of the victims once they get a clean bill of health from the hospital.
Neighbors said that the Turpin children mostly kept to themselves and indoors. On the rare occasion they were outside, they reportedly did not look healthy. Some residents in the neighborhood said that the Turpin family typically kept a messy, unkempt yard, while neighbor Andria Valdez joked that they reminded her of the Cullen vampire family, from the fictional “Twilight” book and film series.
“They only came out at night,” Valdez explained. “They were really, really pale.”
Another neighbor, Robert Perkins, said he once complimented the family when he saw a few of them constructing a Nativity scene in their front yard a fews years ago.
“They didn’t say a word,” Perkins told the Press-Enterprise.
The suspects, who allegedly couldn’t explain why they had their children locked in the home, were charged with torture and child endangerment. Investigators indicated that they are seeking any witnesses with information about the reported abuse. Anyone with any information is urged to contact Master Investigator Tom Salisbury at the Perris station at 951-210-1000 or PerrisStation@RiversideSheriff.org.
Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.
[Feature Photo: David and Louise Turpins/Riverside County Sheriff’s Department]