PERRIS (CBSLA/AP) — The plight of 13 siblings who were kept captive and tortured in their own home has riveted the world, prompting the creation of at least two GoFundMe accounts to raise money to help support them.
The problem is the Riverside County Sheriff's Department – which is the lead law enforcement agency on the case – says no such crowdfunding accounts have been set up and associated with the family.
The agency tweeted this statement Wednesday: "We have been getting inquiries regarding a GoFundMe account for the Child Endangerment and Torture case in Perris. Please be advised that there is currently NO legitimate GoFundMe account associated with this case. Thank you."
Two aunts have come forward to say the Turpin children had no social lives and no contact with extended family.
"They weren't allowed to watch TV. They weren't allowed to have friends over — the normal things that kids do," the children's aunt, Teresa Robinette, told NBC's "Today" show.
Robinette is the sister of Louise Turpin, 49, who along with her husband, 57-year-old David Allen Turpin, were jailed on $9 million bail each. Charges that may include torture and child endangerment could come Wednesday and a court appearance is scheduled for Thursday, authorities said.
Deputies said some siblings were shackled to furniture in the foul-smelling home in suburban Riverside County. They were so malnourished that the older ones still looked like children.
Robinette said she voiced concerns to her sister about the children's health.
"I always made comments to Louise when I did talk to her, about, gosh, they are so skinny," Robinette said. "She would laugh it off and say David's so tall and lanky, they are going to be like him."
The arrests Sunday came after a 17-year-old daughter who looked closer to 10 jumped out a window and called 911. Her parents had made the home a private school, a prison, and a veritable torture chamber for the siblings aged 2 to 29, authorities said during a press conference Tuesday.
Another aunt, Elizabeth Jane Flores, told ABC News' "Good Morning America" that she tried for years to get in touch with her sister, Louise Turpin, but Turpin shut her out.
"I want to reach out to the kids, I want them to know that for years we begged to Skype, we begged to see them, the whole family," she said.
Flores tearfully said she and Turpin didn't have a relationship for two decades beyond the odd phone call. She said she was shocked by her sister's arrest.
It's not known yet whether the underage Turpin children will be released into the custody of either aunt when they are determined to be healthy.
Mark Uffer, CEO at Corona Regional Medical Center, said seven of the couple's children were there Tuesday.
The children are "very friendly," he said. "They're very cooperative, and I believe that they're hopeful that life will get better for them after this event."
Dr. Donald Kirby, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at Ohio's Cleveland Clinic, said the siblings' pale complexions could reflect a lack of sunshine and iron deficiencies caused by insufficient vitamins.
He said their small stature and childlike appearance also indicates they were probably undernourished for many years.
"What that means is this has been a very long process and that during the real growth spurt years that the needed nutrients weren't given," Kirby said. "At some point the body locks in and you're not able to grow anymore. This didn't happen last week, last month or even last year. This has been going on probably a very long time."
Kirby said the siblings' physical and emotional recovery period will likely be long and arduous.
"Lots of things are going to need to be done for these poor people," he said.
It's not clear what the Turpins did for income, and whether they had health insurance, an especially important issue now that all 13 of their children are hospitalized. But as details of the children's circumstances were released, at least two GoFundMe campaigns were set up to collect money in their name.
One campaign had a goal of raising $5,000 for the 17-year-old girl who managed to escape and lead authorities back to her home. Set up by a user named Louise Bialik in Monrovia, the campaign promised to give the collected donations to the Riverside Sheriff's department by Valentine's Day.
Another campaign by a user named Lakiesha Butler in Perris sought to raise $1,000 to "HELP OUR KID'S TURNIPS PARENTS." (sic)
It's not clear whether either user actually knows the Turpin family.
In a statement, a spokeswoman said that all donations are backed by the GoFundMe Guarantee, which guarantees funds go to the right place, or donors get a refund.
"Our team is closely monitoring all campaigns related to this incident and we guarantee any funds raised for the Turpin children go to the right place," GoFundMe officials said.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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