RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The mother of 13 malnourished children who were found being held at a filthy, foul-smelling California home, some of them chained to furniture, was “perplexed” when deputies entered the residence over the weekend, a sheriff’s captain said Tuesday.
Louise Anna Turpin, 49, was arrested along with her 56-year-old husband, David Allen Turpin, on Sunday. The Turpins' arrest was announced by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department on Monday, exploding into a story bringing national media attention to the residential community of Perris, some 60 miles east of Los Angeles.
On Tuesday, authorities answered questions about the case, stressing the investigation was just beginning.
Sheriff’s Capt. Greg Fellows, who serves as chief of Perris police, said conditions in the home were “horrific.” But authorities had never before been called to the Muir Woods Road home, where the family moved in 2014.
After a “courageous” teen got out of the home before dawn and placed an emergency call, deputies came to meet her nearby, the captain said.
She showed the deputies photos that supported her claims that her siblings were being held against their will. The deputies went to the home to do a welfare check.
There, they found three children chained to furniture in a dirty home. The 13 siblings ranged in age from 2 to 29, but the adult children looked like youths.
“If you can imagine being 17 years old and appearing to be a 10-year-old, being chained to a bed, being malnourished … I would call that torture,” Fellows said.
Their mother, however, did not seem to understand why deputies were at the home.
“It seemed that the mother was perplexed as to why we were at that residence,” Fellows said.
It’s not clear how the husband reacted.
The couple was taken to the sheriff’s Perris Station and arrested on suspicion of torture and child endangerment. Investigators will soon present the case to prosecutors for charges.
The parents, Fellows said, showed no signs mental illness. Investigators have no details as yet on any religious organizations connected to the case, the captain said.
The Turpins are being held on $9 million bail each. The children are being treated at area hospitals.