(PERRIS, Calif.) — The 13 siblings who were rescued from their parents’ home, where they had been allegedly held captive, starved and, in some cases, shackled, were seen walking military-style, single-file, according to a former neighbor.
The brothers and sisters — ages two to 29 — were found at their parents’ home in Perris, California, Sunday, where some were allegedly “shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings,” the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office said. They appeared malnourished and dirty, the sheriff’s department said.
The victims have since been hospitalized for treatment while their parents, Louise Turpin and David Turpin, have been arrested.
Louise Turpin’s sister Elizabeth Flores told ABC News she hasn’t seen her sister in 20 years, but recalled how the children’s lives were extremely regimented when she lived with them two decades earlier. Flores said the children had to ask permission to speak, and said they would look to their mother for cues about whether they could answer her when Flores tried to talk to them.
Flores, who was in her late teens at the time, said her sister wouldn’t allow her to invite friends over or allow her to call friends. She also described disturbing incidents involving her sister allegedly watching her shower with her husband, though she stressed that David Turpin never touched her.
Flores emphasized that she never witnessed any abuse of the children while she lived in the home. She added that she cares about her nieces and nephews greatly and hopes to see them overcome what they endured, saying that she wants them to know that she loves them and that family members tried to visit them over the years.
Mike Clifford, a neighbor of the family at their former home in Murrieta, California, works the overnight shift and said he’d come home at midnight and see the children in the upstairs rooms marching from room to room, single-file. The marching would last for hours, he told ABC News.
On the few occasions that Clifford’s wife saw any of the children, she said they answered in unison, in a monotone and robotic way, according to Clifford.
Multiple neighbors said they only saw the children when they would pile in their family van late at night. They would also only return late at night.
The victims were found after one of the children — a 17-year-old girl — allegedly escaped from the Southern California home through a window Sunday morning and called 911. Responding officers said the teen was slightly emaciated and “appeared to be only 10 years old.”
Seven of the alleged victims were adults and the others were children as young as two.
David Turpin, 57, and Louise Turpin, 49, were arrested on charges of torture and child endangerment, the sheriff’s office said, and are expected to be arraigned Thursday. They will be represented by attorneys with the Riverside County Public Defender’s Office.
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