Security footage shows arrest of California couple accused of torturing children

PERRIS, Calif. -- Bail has been set at $9 million each for the parents accused of imprisoning their 13 children inside their home in Southern California. They're being held on suspicion of torture and child endangerment.

The arrest of  David and Louise Turpin was captured on a neighbor's security camera. The video shows them escorted by sheriff's deputies, one behind the other, and both appear handcuffed. About 45 minutes later, some of the children are seen outside, being loaded into a van.

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Security camera footage from a neighbor of the couple accused of holding their 13 children captive.

CBS News

Riverside County Sheriff's Capt. Greg Fellows says conditions inside the home were horrific.

"It was extremely dirty, and as we reported previously, many of the children were malnourished," Fellows said. "There were three individuals that were chained to some type of furniture in the residence."

Their release from the house of horrors came around 7 a.m. Sunday. Police say a 17-year-old girl escaped from a window and called 911 from a deactivated cell phone. When police responded, she was so malnourished they thought she was 10 years old. Thirteen siblings in total were found: six children as young as 2, and seven adults as old as 29.

Their physical appearance shocked deputies.

Riverside County Sheriff's Dept

David and Louise Turpin

Riverside County Sheriff's Department

"I wish I could come to you today with information that would explain why this happened," said Fellows.


Here's what we know:

  • The family has been living in Perris, California since 2014.
  • The couple filed for bankruptcy twice.
  • The kids were homeschooled. 
  • The home is listed as a private school, with records showing David Turpin as the principal. The California Department of Education doesn't inspect or regulate private schools. 
  • Officials say there are no signs of sexual abuse.

What we don't know:

  • How long the abuse went on, and why it seemed to go unnoticed and unreported. 
  • Whether religion played a role in the treatment of the children.

Videos taken at the couple's renewal of their wedding vows in Las Vegas show the family together in celebration.

Wendy Martinez, like most neighbors, says she never saw anything troubling. She does remember once seeing four of the kids laying sod in the front yard around 9 p.m. one night.

"It was odd but nothing to call the cops about," Martinez said.

The sheriff and Child Protective Services both said they had no dealings with the family prior to this. Officials say the mother seemed "perplexed" as to why investigators were questioning her about the condition her kids were living in.