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'I Can't Believe This:' Neighbors Shocked After California Couple Accused Of Torturing Children

PERRIS, Calif. (CBSNewYork) -- A torture investigation was under way Tuesday after police discovered a house of horrors where they said 13 malnourished children were allegedly held captive by their parents.

As CBS2's Alice Gainer reported, police on Tuesday revealed how the children were rescued.

David and Louise Turpin are charged with nine counts of torture and 10 counts of child endangerment after investigators found 12 children inside a Perris home. Authorities said several children were "shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings."

Police were tipped off after a 17-year-old daughter managed to escape by jumping out of a window and calling 911.

Sheriff's deputies said they thought the girl was so small that they initially thought she was 10 years old.

Deputies said the teen showed them pictures, and afterward, they went to the home to check on things. The parents were arrested after the deputies witnessed what they described as torture.

The 17-year-old contacted the Riverside County, California Sheriff's Department just after 6 a.m. Sunday.

"A 17-year-old girl called 911 from a deactivated cell phone and reported that her siblings were being held against their will -- and some were chained," said Riverside County Sheriff's Department Capt. Greg Fellows.

When they showed up to the home about 70 miles southeast of Los Angeles, they found exactly that and more.

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

Deputies said the children's mother was "perplexed" when they arrived. People living near the home also had no idea what was going on inside.

"I can't believe this. It's so sad," said neighbor Jennifer Luna.

"Thirteen kids living next door? I can't believe it," said neighbor John Brewster. "I know somebody must have known it, but they didn't want to get involved."

The Turpin children range in age from 2 to 29, but neighbors say most of them appeared younger.

"The older kids, they, I thought they were, like, 12, because they looked so malnourished; so pale," said neighbor Kimberly Milligan.

Police said the family had lived in the house for about three years, but they had never been called to the home before. So how did neighbors not notice what was going on?

"I never knew that there was any kids living in that house. Especially not 13," said neighbor Robert Gomez Jr.

"The kids were not sociable at all," another neighbor said. "Like, you know, like, they didn't want to look at people."

Before moving to California, the Turpin family lived throughout Texas. One family who bought a house in Rio Vista after the Turpins documented the strange conditions inside – stained walls and carpets, broken and boarded up windows, and what they said were scratches on the doors.

Previous neighbors in Fort Worth described the family as strange.

"They were weird and homeschooled the kids and kept them away from everybody, and wouldn't say names, and I just thought maybe they were a little out there," a neighbor said.

Throughout the years, the couple traveled several times to Las Vegas to renew their vows. Elvis impersonator Kent Ripley was the wedding officiant.

"I did not see any unusual activities between the two of them. They seemed to care," he said. "Quiet kids, but yet, they seemed to enjoy the family as a unit."

As far as how the kids are doing now, hospital officials said they are being fed and are listed in stable condition.

"They've gone through traumatic ordeal. I can tell you that they're very friendly. They are cooperative. And I believe that they're hopeful life will get better for them after this event," said Corona Medical Center chief executive officer Mark Uffer.

State records showed the kids were home school and that their father was listed as the principal of a day school at the same address.

The couple filed for bankruptcy twice. They are now being held on $9 million bail each.

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