The horrors unfolding in a quiet suburban community where 13 siblings were kept chained to their beds continue to defy easy explanation. After a 17-year-old escaped and went to the police, her mother and father were taken into custody. 24 hours later, details of the siblings’ treatment are coming to light.
The children were found in their home in Perris, California on Sunday. The children were emaciated. They range in age from 29-years-old, down to age two. Seven are over the age of 18.
Why they were bound is still not known. It is also unclear how long they were kept in chains. Photos have gone viral, though, that show the children in public–both at Disneyland and in Las Vegas, where the couple renewed their vows.
“Police arrested their parents David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, and charged them with torture and child endangerment,” the Daily Mail writes. “They are being held on $9 million bail.”
The family declared bankruptcy in 2011. Though David Turpin reportedly worked as an engineer for defense contractor Northrop Grumman, his $140,000 salary wasn’t enough to support the family.
The emaciation, it seems, is a recent development. The images taken at a wedding chapel in Las Vegas shows them to be outwardly healthy. Those images are from 2016.
“The victims appeared to be malnourished and very dirty. Perris Station Detectives were dispatched to the residence for further investigation,” a police spokesperson said.
“Child Protective Services (CPS) and Adult Protective Services (APS) arrived to assist in the investigation. The victims were provided with food and beverages after they claimed to be starving.”
In 2015, Turpin registered the family’s address as the location of the Sandcastle Day School, where the children were to be home-schooled.
David Turpin’s parents, James and Betty Turpin reportedly characterized the family as very religious. Part of the children’s education required the memorization of bible verses.
As part of this dedication to their religious ideals, the Turpins regularly renewed their marriage vows. The Vegas ceremony was one of many that occurred in 2011, 2013, and 2015.
“Photographs from 2011 show the couple by themselves, but impersonator Kent Ripley said the children were in attendance that time as well,” DM writes.
“I’m still disturbed. This is a sad day for everybody, especially the children, I mean they were sitting right around here three different times,” Ripley told Fox5Vegas. “Nothing seemed to be unusual apart from the fact there was a lot of them. They were well behaved and smiled a lot.”
Those who lived near the family described the family as reclusive. Wendy Martinez lives behind the Turpins. She told Daily Mail that she had found four of the children kneeling in the yard, late in the evening. “They were on their knees, four little kids, and they were just rolling on the grass. It was odd at that time of night.”
“It was about 9pm at night and we came around right here and at the gate, we saw four children inside,” Martinez said.
“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, like if they were told not to speak to anybody.”