In a discovery that has stunned both authorities and neighbors in a suburban Riverside County neighborhood, 13 brothers and sisters who appeared to have been held captive by their parents in a Perris house were found early Sunday, Jan. 14, after one of them escaped and called 911.
Some of them were chained and padlocked to their beds inside the dark and foul-smelling house in the 100 block of Muir Woods Road, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said.
“The parents were unable to immediately provide a logical reason why their children were restrained in that manner,” sheriff’s officials said in a news release.
The victims appeared dirty and malnourished, and were so emaciated that deputies were shocked to discover that while all looked like children, they actually ranged in age from 2 to 29; six of them were minors and seven were 18 or older.
David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were each arrested on suspicion of nine counts of torture and 10 counts of child endangerment, online jail records show. Bail was set at $9 million each. Neither suspect has a documented criminal record in Riverside County, Superior Court records show.
Public records indicate that the Turpins own a property at 160 Muir Woods Road that was last purchased in 2014.
That is the same address as Sandcastle Day School, a private school whose principal, state Department of Education Records say, is David Turpin. The state records say Sandcastle was founded in the 2014-15 school year.
In the 2016-17 school year, it had an enrollment of six: one student in each of the fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth, 10th and 12th grades.
Neighbors Zinzi and Ricardo Ross expressed disbelief Monday afternoon at the situation on Muir Woods Road. The couple has lived nearby for more than two years.
“It’s very shocking,” Ricardo Ross said. “Very devastating.”
Zinzi Ross agreed. “It’s crazy. I can’t believe this is going on,” she said.
Early Sunday, a 17-year-old girl — who investigators said looked like she was only about 10 — managed to escape from the home with a cellphone that she used to 911, the sheriff’s news release said. She said her 12 brothers and sisters were being held captive.
Deputies went to the home, where they found the other victims along with the parents, David and Louise Turpin.
The victims, who “claimed to be starving,” were fed and admitted to hospitals, the release said. Child Protective Services and Adult Protective Services assisted in the investigation.
There was no answer at Child Protective Services’ main offices on Monday, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. A supervisor at the child abuse hotline said he could not provide any information.
The Turpins’ middle-class neighborhood — where their frequently unkempt lawn was one of the things neighbors had noticed most about it — was abuzz Monday afternoon as news spread of the horrible allegations against them.
More than two dozen people gathered in groups on the sidewalk, and motorists drove by the house, some slowing down and pulling out their cellphones to capture the scene. A helicopter flew overhead and news reporters showed up to try to gain insight on the family, but few of the people who were outside had had much interaction with the Turpins.
Andrew Santillan, who lives around the corner, heard about the case from a friend.
“I had no idea this was going on,” he said as he stood in a nearby driveway and watched the scene. “I didn’t know there were kids in the house.”
Neighbor Andria Valdez said she first saw four cop cars outside the Turpins’ house about 8:15 a.m. Sunday. She said officials stayed all day — one deputy was there until 10 p.m., and a truck with a camper shell that said “Riverside Service” stayed overnight, she said.
Valdez said her family had joked the family at that house reminded them of the fictional Cullen family from the “Twilight” book and film series.
“They only came out at night,” she said. “They were really, really pale.”
Jonte McLaurin also saw about four or five sheriff’s cars Sunday morning.
He said he used to mow lawns in the neighborhood, and several years ago he tried knocking on the door to offer his lawn services, but the family declined.
“They were all weird about it,” he said
He said he noticed they at one point let their grass die and then put bales of hay in the front yard.
A few years ago, Robert Perkins said he and his mom saw a few family members constructing a Nativity scene in the Turpins’ front yard. Perkins said he complimented them on it.
“They didn’t say a word,” he said.
Riverside County sheriff’s Deputy Armando Munoz said no further information on the case would be made available until the next news release.
Investigators ask that anyone with information on the case contact Master Investigator Tom Salisbury at the Perris station at 951-210-1000 or PerrisStation@RiversideSheriff.org.
This story is developing. Check back for updates.