LOS ANGELES (CBSMiami) – On their social media posts, they appeared to be one big happy family.
Thirteen children with their parents on vacation often dressed in matching outfits. Investigators say no one could have pictured what was really happening in their Perris home.
Early Sunday, a 17-year-old girl escaped from the home and called 911, saying her 12 brothers and sisters were being held captive, some shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks.
“It’s just crazy to think that people are being treated like that so close to you,” said Sarah Miller, a neighbor of the family.
Neighbors are now trying to figure out how they missed the signs. They said the family lived there for about three years and didn’t come out much. Last fall, Nicole Gooding recalls seeing the parents, 56-year-old David Allen Turpin and 49-year-old Louise Anna Turpin, and a few of the kids doing yard work.
“Nonchalant, looked like they were having fun. like a regular family, just helping people. kind of like a little assembly line together just grabbing things and it seemed like they were having fun,” said Gooding.
Neighbors said when they did see the kids, they were pale and shy but didn’t seem to be in poor health. Investigators said all of the children were dirty and malnourished. At first, they didn’t realize the seven oldest were adults – between the ages of 18 and 29.
Jamelia Adams, a neighbor who has experience with the foster care system, said she’s never heard of a case like this before.
“Just to see it was right here. It was like, it’s heartbreaking, especially as a foster parent because that’s what we do, we take care of kids who can’t take care of their self and then to see somebody has their own kids like that, it’s hard,” she said.
According to the California Department of Education, the home was registered as a private school called Sandcastle Say School and Turpin was listed as the principal. Now he and his wife are facing charges of torture and child endangerment. Their bail has been set at $9 million each.
The couple’s 13 children were taken to area hospitals for examinations – all were admitted.