Thirteen siblings 'held captive' by parents in Perris, California: 'Deeply religious' couple arrested on torture charges
"They all dressed alike when they went out," Betty Turpin, David's mother, told CNN. The couple would line the children up according to age, she said, and the parents took their positions at the front and back of the line, for "protective reasons."
"It was easier to keep up with the kids" that way, their grandmother said. "They were very protective of the kids."
David, 57, and Louise, 49, are accused of holding their children captive in their Perris, California, home in filthy conditions, some of them shackled to beds with chains and padlocks. The 13 siblings range in age from 2 to 29.
The parents are charged with torture and child endangerment, and scheduled for a court hearing Thursday. Bail was set at $9 million each. It was not immediately clear if the suspects had attorneys or whether they had entered a plea.
On Sunday, one of their daughters, a 17-year-old, managed to escape from their home by climbing out a window and called 911 from a deactivated cell phone she found in the house, police said. She told officers her parents were holding her 12 siblings captive inside the home, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department said.
The teenager had photos to support her story, Riverside County Sheriff's Capt. Greg Fellows told reporters Tuesday.
"I wish I could come to you with information that would explain why this happened, but we do need to acknowledge the courage of the young girl who escaped from that residence to bring attention so they can get the help they so need," Fellows said.
Six siblings under the age of 18
Neither law enforcement nor child protective services had been called to the home in the past, officials said.
Riverside County Department of Public Social Services Director Susan von Zabern said the incident "was the first opportunity we had to intervene."
Fellows,who likened the siblings' treatment to torture, said their mother was "perplexed as to why" authorities came to her home.
Sheriff's deputies found 12 victims there who "appeared malnourished and very dirty." Several were shackled to their beds "in dark and foul-smelling surroundings," the sheriff's department said.
All looked like children, police said, and officers were surprised to learn that seven of them are adults. The adults are being treated at Corona Regional Medical Center in Corona, and the six children are at Riverside University Health System Medical Center in Moreno Valley.
"It's hard to think of them as adults," said Mark Uffer, Corona Regional Medical Center CEO. "When you see them, they're small. They're stable. They're being fed."
Daniel Hoffman, a professor of nutritional sciences at Rutgers University, told CNN that growth is essentially halted at the age at which undernutrition begins
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