House of Horrors Update: Neighbors say children ‘rolled’ in front yard at night, never spoke to anyone, dug in trash for food

Neighbors in a Perry, California, neighborhood are speaking out after learning 13 people, including adults and children, were rescued from their parents’ home after police reportedly found 12 of them dirty, emaciated, and starving inside the residence.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, officers with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department arrived to the Perris house on Monday after a girl, 17, told them she stole a cellphone from the home, escaped from its horrid conditions, then called for help. She told authorities that her 12 siblings were still inside the home.

When responding officers arrived, they found the girl’s 12 pale, weak-looking siblings inside the “foul-smelling” home, some 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 Los Angeles Times reports that neighbor Wendy Martinez, 41, recalled when she once saw four of the children in the front yard at night, kneeling and putting sod in the grass, while their mother stood in the archway, staring at them.

“That was kind of weird, all four of them were on the ground rolling out sod,” said Martinez.

Martinez reportedly told Mail Online that as the children rolled around in the yard, Louise Turpin didn’t say a word.

“It was about 9 p.m. at night and we came around right here and at the gate, we saw four children inside. They were on their knees, four little kids, and they were just rolling on the grass. It was odd at that time of night. Their mother was in the archway, I just remember the mother in the archway, and I said, ‘hi.’ There was like no movement, not even to look over to see who’s saying hi. No movement, like if they were told not to speak to anybody. The mom, no movement at all.”

Other neighbors reported seeing the kids every now and then, but each time, the children looked weak, meager, and never spoke to anyone. Some residents said they saw  a few of the children digging through a trash can for food.

David Turpin’s parents, James and Betty Turpin, of West Virginia, told ABC that they haven’t seen their son or his family in around four or five years. Yet, they said they thought their son and daughter-in-law loved their children. They said they were “surprised and shocked” to hear of the abuse.

The children, all homeschooled, apparently lived under strict guidelines and were made to memorize Bible passages, per the grandparents. Court documents, according to The New York Times, show that David Turpin was granted approval to run the private Sandcastle Day School from their home.

David Turpin worked as a computer engineer and graduated from Virginia Tech, according to his parents. He then worked for General Dynamics in Texas before moving to California.

Authorities said the suspects couldn’t explain why they had their children locked in the home and shackled up. They were both arrested and charged with torture and child endangerment. Bail was set at $9 million each.

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

[Feature Photo: David and Louise Turpins/Riverside County Sheriff’s Department]