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House of Horrors: Parents Arrested After 13 Children Held Captive and Shackled to Beds


A father and mother are in jail in southern California today, accused of torture, holding their own children captive, and shackling some of them to their beds.

David Turpin, 57, and his wife Louise, 49, are in police custody, charged with multiple counts of child abuse after police made a chilling discovery inside their Perris, California home.

Investigators said the couple's 13 children, ages 2 to 29, were held in dungeon-like conditions and said to be starving.

They learned about the case Sunday morning after one of the children, a 17-year-old girl, managed to escape from the house and called 9-1-1 from a cell phone she found in the home.

Police said the girl was emaciated and looked like she was only 10. She told them that her parents were holding her 12 brothers and sisters captive inside their home.

The Riverside County sheriff's department said in a statement that several of the children were shackled to their beds in dark and foul-smelling surroundings.

Shocked neighbors described seeing the children from time to time.

"They were all very pale skinned, almost like they've never seen the sun," said one anonymous neighbor.

Joshua Tiedeman commented, "Everybody was super skinny, not athletic-skinny, but malnourished."

Nelson Montero who also lives in the neighborhood said, "Chills in my body. Nobody should be treated like that."

A family photo posted on the Turpin's Facebook page show the couple renewing their vows, surrounded by their 13 children all dressed alike.

David Turpin's parents told ABC News the Turpins were considered a good Christian family in their neighborhood. The distraught grandparents said they couldn't understand "any of this."

The children were reportedly home-schooled and would sometimes memorize long passages of the Bible. 

One expert believes the captivity must have been an ongoing situation.

"They had to have been doing this for some time. They were probably very disciplined and very meticulous about keeping the children captive," former FBI agent Steve Gomez told ABC News.

Both parents are being held on a $9 million bail.

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