13 people held captive in California home, police say

(CNN) — A couple was arrested after police discovered that 13 people had been held captive in their California home in filthy conditions, some shackled to beds with chains and padlocks, officials said Monday.

The victims ranged in age from 2 to 29, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.

A 17-year-old girl managed to escape from the residence in Perris, California on Sunday and called 911 from a cell phone she found in the house, police said.

The girl claimed her 12 brothers and sisters were being held captive inside the home by her parents, some of them bound with chains and padlocks, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said.

The 17-year-old “appeared to be only 10 years old and slightly emaciated,” the Riverside Sheriff’s Department said.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to the home and found the 12 other victims, who “appeared malnourished and very dirty,” authorities said. All of them looked like children, police said, and officers were surprised to learn that seven of them were adults. Several were shackled to their beds “in dark and foul-smelling surroundings,” the Sheriff’s Department said.

David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were charged Sunday with torture and child endangerment, the Sheriff’s Department said. The couple was taken to the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside.

Bail was set at $9 million for each, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said.

It was not immediately clear if the suspects had an attorney or whether they had entered a plea.

The six children — including the 17-year-old who escaped — are being treated at Riverside University Health System Medical Center in Moreno Valley. The seven adults are being treated at Corona Regional Medical Center in Corona, authorities said.

State records: home listed as a school

David Turpin is listed as the principal of the Sandcastle Day School, according to a California Department of Education website. It was operated out of his home, the same nondescript, suburban residence where the 13 victims were found. The day school opened March 21, 2011, and was described as a private school serving grades 1-12. According to the website, the status of the school is “active.”

Neighbors said they knew a large family lived there, CNN affiliate KABC reported, but they never saw any of the younger children.

One neighbor told the station that she saw the parents being arrested early Sunday. The children were taken from the home in their pajamas, she said.

“They were very, very pale-skinned, almost like they’ve never seen the sun,” the neighbor said.

“And it was mostly girls … kind of small-framed,” the neighbor said.

Kimberly Milligan, a neighbor, told CNN affiliate KCAL/KCBS she thought the older children were much younger.

“I thought they were like 12 because they looked so malnourished, so pale,” Milligan said.

“It’s so sad, so horrible,” another neighbor, Jennifer Luna, told the station, shaking her head. “I can’t believe this. I can’t believe this.”

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