Parents Who Kept Their 13 Children Chained To Beds Believed ‘God Called On Them’ To Have Big Family

Investigators in Pierre, California uncovered a disturbing child endangerment case over the weekend with 13 children held captive by their parents.

ABC News reports David Allen Turpin and his wife Louise Anna Turpin were arrested and charged with multiple counts of torture and child endangerment Sunday (Jan. 14). Riverside County Police arrived at the family’s home when their 17-year-old daughter called 911 after escaping. Living conditions in the dimly lit home showed some siblings chained to their beds with padlocks in “foul smelling rooms.”

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Police originally believed all 13 were children because of their small frames, but discovered seven of them were adults. The eldest was 29 and the youngest, 2. Police thought the 17-year-old “appeared to be only 10 years old and slightly emaciated.” They were all given food and water and hospitalized for physical and mental treatment.

The couple spoke to police and said they kept the children at home to protect them. They were also homeschooled under the institution Sandcastle Day School, founded by Dave Allen Turpin. The children’s grandparents said they were shocked to hear about the living conditions since they spoke to the couple once or twice a month. They also admitted that the children were forced to memorize long passages of the bible since the family was under the impression that “God called on them” to have so many children.

Many of wondered why neighbors never noticed how badly the children were treated, but many thought the children were quiet but in no immediate danger. “Everybody was super skinny, not athletic skinny but malnourished skinny,” neighbor Josh Tiedeman told ABC News, while neighbor Janeece Calhoun said she didn’t know the couple had children.

“You know what, I drive past this way every day but I’ve never seen the family or anything,” Calhoun said. ‘Never anybody coming in or out.” Another neighbor said she saw the children digging through the trash for food but thought they were just being kids. Family photos and videos also showed the family as cheery and the children well behaved.

The couple is currently being held in jail, each with a $9 million bond.

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