New details emerge in case of 13 siblings held captive in California home

By Susan McFarland  |  Jan. 17, 2018 at 8:58 AM
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Jan. 17 (UPI) -- New details have emerged in the case of more than a dozen siblings who were held captive -- in some cases, shackled to their beds inside their California home -- by their parents.

Authorities said the siblings, between the ages of 2 and 29, had been living in filthy conditions and were malnourished by their parents before officials intervened this week.

Investigators are praising one sibling, a 17-year-old girl, who escaped through a window and went for help -- using a deactivated cellphone, which are still able to reach 911.

The girl, who officers thought looked to be about 10 years old, showed police pictures to persuade them of her story. Riverside County Sheriff's Department Capt. Greg Fellows told reporters Tuesday the mother seemed perplexed as to why officers came to the home.

The siblings are being treated at two facilities about 30 miles apart, officials said. The adults are at Corona Regional Medical Center and are being kept together and guarded by security and those under 18 at a facility in Riverside.

Mark Uffer, chief executive officer at the Corona hospital, said they are stable and described then as friendly and cooperative.

"I think they feel safe," Uffer said during a news conference. "I believe they are hopeful that life will get better for them."

Susan Von Zabern, director of the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services, said the agency usually tries to place children with other family members -- but in this case, none have come forward.

The parents, David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, face torture and child endangerment charges and are being held on a $9 million bond.

David Turpin's parents told KABC-TV they are "surprised and shocked" at the allegations -- adding that the couple had so many children because "God called on them," and that they gave the children very strict homeschooling, having them memorize long passages from the Bible.

When the family went out into public, they often wore similar clothing and hairstyles, acquaintances said -- and perception of the family via social media gave no indication of the severity of the purported discipline.

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