Starving siblings who were held captive by their parents have been rescued after their brave sister’s bold escape led the police to their property.
Several brothers and sisters were found chained to their beds in filthy living conditions on Sunday, according to the Daily Mail.
A 17-year-old girl, who was so small and emaciated the police believed she was 10, called 911 after escaping her family home in the city of Perris, California. Once police interviewed the desperate teenager, they rushed to her suburban house where they found her malnourished siblings.
“Further investigation revealed several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings,” the Riverside County Sheriff’s department wrote on its Facebook page.
“But the parents were unable to immediately provide a logical reason why their children were restrained in that manner.”
The siblings were taken to hospital after being interviewed at their local police station, reports Metro News. Cops were shocked to find that seven of them were adults. The siblings range from two to 29 years old.
Their parents, David Allen (57) and Louise Anna Turpin (49), face charges of torture and child endangerment and are held on $9 million (R108 million) bail each.
The married couple filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and were up to more than R6 million in debt despite David’s well-paying engineering job, according to The New York Times.
Andrew Santillan, who lives around the corner from the family, says he was stunned when he heard the news of the arrests. “I had no idea this was going on,” he said.
Another neighbour, Wendy Martinez (41), who lives in the house behind the single-storey property, told the Daily Mail she saw four of the children kneeling in front of the house in October last year, looking emaciated and pale.
“They were on their knees, four little kids, and they were just rolling on the grass. It was odd at that time of night,” Wendy says.
“Their mother was in the archway, I just remember the mother in the archway, and I said, ‘Hi.’
“There was like no movement, not even to look over to see who’s saying hi, like if they were told not to speak to anybody.”
The Turpins are set to appear in court on Thursday.