Police say this California couple held their 13 children captive and shackled them to beds with chains --  see inside the family's horrifying life

Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images
  • Police in California arrested David and Louise Turpin after their 17-year-old daughter called 911.
  • The couple’s 13 children were being held captive in their home, police said.
  • Some of the children were malnourished and bound to their beds by chains.

Police on Sunday arrested a couple at their home in Perris, California, after their 17-year-old daughter escaped and called 911, informing authorities that she and her 12 siblings were being held captive by their parents, according to an incident report released by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

Police said they found some of the children extremely malnourished and shackled to their beds by chains and padlocks. The 17-year-old reportedly escaped through a window and used a mobile phone taken from inside the house to call police. She was so emaciated that she looked as if she was 10 years old, police said.

The parents, David and Louise Turpin, were “unable to immediately provide a logical reason why their children were restrained in that manner,” police added.

This story is developing, but here’s what we know so far:

The victims were being held captive in the family home, which is in Perris, California, about 70 miles east of Los Angeles.

The ages of the 13 victims range from 2 to 29. Seven of them are adults.

Some of the adults were so emaciated that police say they were shocked to learn how old they were.

Authorities interviewed all of the victims and transported them to local hospitals for medical treatment.

The parents, David Allen Turpin and his wife, Louise, were arrested on charges of torture and child endangerment. Their bail was set at $US9 million each.

Riverside County Sheriffs Department via Getty Images
Riverside County Sheriffs Department via Getty Images

“If you can imagine being 17 years old and appearing to be a 10-year-old, being chained to a bed, being malnourished, and injuries associated with that, I would call that torture,” Captain Greg Fellows of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday.

Media coverage of this quiet neighbourhood has been unusual for many of its residents.

Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Stunned neighbours, many of whom denied knowing much about the family, lined the footpaths to watch investigators scour the home.

After the news broke, a local resident became suspicious that the Turpins had abducted his cousin, Elizabeth Salgado, who has been missing for two years.

Alex GallardoRudemberth Salgado has been looking for his cousin, Elizabeth Salgado, who was last seen in Provo, Utah.

Another neighbour told The Washington Post about a bizarre encounter with the Turpin children. In 2015, Kimberly Milligan complimented the children as they set up a nativity scene in front of their house around Christmas. They “did not say a word,” Milligan said. “They were like children whose only defence was to be invisible.”

Source: The Washington Post

That same year, the couple renewed their wedding vows at the Elvis Chapel in Las Vegas.

They brought all their children to sing and dance along with the Elvis impersonator. It appears that the couple had renewed their vows there several times.

David Turpin ran a day school out of his home, according to KABC, a Los Angeles news station.

Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Source: KABC News

He has also worked as an engineer for Northrop Grumman, but in 2011, the family filed for bankruptcy, KABC reported.

A lawyer who represented David and Louise at their bankruptcy hearing told CNN that “there was nothing out of ordinary” about the couple. He added that they didn’t seem upset about their bankruptcy.

Sandy Huffaker/GettyNeighbours react to the news.

Source: CNN

In an interview with CNN, David’s mother, Betty, said the family would often go on vacations and the kids would wear matching shirts so no one would get lost. “This is a highly respectable family,” she said.

Source: CNN

Louise’s sister spoke out to NBC News in an emotional interview. “We are as hurt and shocked and angry and disappointed as everybody else,” Teresa Robinette said.

Source: NBC News

Law enforcement has encouraged anyone with additional information about the family to contact Tom Salisbury, an investigator on the case, by calling 951-210-1000.

Source: Perris Police

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.