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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The Southern California couple accused of starving and torturing their 13 children will make their first court appearance Thursday.

They face multiple counts of torture and child abuse after their malnourished kids were found captive in their home three of them in chains.

Prosecutors in Riverside laid out a harrowing life of starvation and punishment David and Louise Turpin allegedly inflicted on their 13 children.

“The victims report as a punishment, starting many years ago, they began to be tied up,” said Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin. “One victim at one point was tied up and hogtied………These punishments would last for weeks or even months at a time.”

Circumstantial evidence from the house suggests that the victims were often not released from their chains to go to the bathroom.

One of the children at age 12 is the weight of an average 7-year-old. The 29-year-old female victim weighs 82 pounds.

Surveillance video shows the couple being taken into custody Sunday.

Police found a dozen malnourished kids in the family home after a 13th sibling – a 17-year-old girl escaped from a window and called authorities.

“The 17-year-old who escaped had been working on a plan to escape with her siblings for more than 2 years,” said Hestrin.

Child endangerment in California carries a maximum sentence of 6 years, but torture is a felony and can lead to a life sentence.

An old photograph given to CBS station KTVT by a neighbor when the family lived in Texas shows the inside of the Turpin’s home and what appears to be a rope tied to one of the bedframes.

California investigators say three of the children rescued Sunday were found chained to furniture. Michael Clifford is a former neighbor in Riverside County. He saw very unusual behavior through the windows.

“They would march in circles in the middle of the night,” said neighbor Michael Clifford.

Relatives say the Turpin’s were deeply religious, but they never had an indications the couple might be mistreating their children.

Prosecutors say the children weren’t allowed to shower more than once a year. They endured frequent beatings and sometimes strangulation.

Both David and Louise Turpin each face more than two dozen charges carrying a sentence of 94 years to life in prison if convicted.


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