A 17-year-old girl grabbed a deactivated cell phone from the house where she and 12 siblings were starving and being held captive by their parents. With that cell phone in hand, she jumped out a window and set a rescue mission into motion for her as well as her 12 other siblings, some who were still shackled in their California home. The only phone number that would work with a deactivated cell phone is 911, and that was the call she wanted to make.
Her call was answered by the police who thought she was about 10-years-old when first setting eyes on her, as she was about the size of a child of that age. Officers were later shocked to find that she was actually a 17-year-old emaciated teen who was “visibly malnourished,” reports Fox News. Police report that the mother was “perplexed” when police came to the home, as she didn’t seem to understand what the problem was that brought police to their front door. The teenage girl who had escaped the home told the police that her 12 brothers and sisters were shackled inside, prompting the police to go to the home to investigate. What the officers found is being dubbed today as a “house of horrors.”
Police arrived at a home that appeared neat and tidy from the curb, and there was nothing to indicate that this was a house that should stand out from the rest of the Perrish, California, suburban homes in the neighborhood — that is, until they went inside. The investigators said all 13 brothers and sisters were malnourished and that several of the children were shackled to their beds.
All 13 siblings were transported to the Perris Police Station for brief interviews. People from Child Protective Services gave the siblings food and beverages on the spot because they were starving and said they were very hungry, according to Nixle. Shortly after that, the siblings who were children were transported to the Riverside University Hospital, where they were admitted. The seven adult siblings were admitted to Corona Regional Medical Center.
The siblings were so malnourished that police believed they were all children but later found that seven of these siblings were between the ages of 18 to 29. The children were starved and the house was filthy, with a foul-smell hitting the police officers as soon as they entered the home.
The parents were transported separately to the station, where they were interviewed before being transported to Robert Presley Detention Center. There, “they were booked for violations of California Penal Code Section 206–Torture and Section 273a(A)–Child Endangerment. Bail was set at $9,000,000.00 each,” according to Nixle.
Both David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, are the biological parents of all 13 siblings. At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, officials described the scene and arrests of the parents of the siblings.
Captain Greg Fellows spoke to the media and conveyed the charges against the Turpin parents. He said they have been charged with “nine counts of torture and 10 counts of child endangerment,” according to NPR. The mother and the father are each being held on a $9 million bail.
Fellows explained how they decided upon the charges of torture.
He told the media, “If you can imagine being 17 years old and appearing to be a 10-year-old, being chained to a bed, being malnourished and [having] injuries associated with that — I would call that torture.”
The CEO of Corona Regional Medical Center, Mark Uffer, also added that the seven adult siblings who are under that medical facility’s care are “stable and they’re being fed.” Uffer described his impression of the siblings to the media.
“It’s hard to think of them as adults when you first see them because they’re small, and it’s clear they’re malnutritioned.”
According to the New York Times, Uffer also said about the seven adult siblings in his facility’s care, “They’re very friendly, they’re very cooperative, and I believe that they’re hopeful that life will get better for them.”
Uffer was also asked about the conditions in the home in which the siblings were found, he responded, “I’ve never seen this.”
He also said, “The way my staff responded, I think they were horrified.”
Fellows also complemented the 17-year-old for her bravery of escaping and notifying police during the press conference today.