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Family members open up about bizarre behavior of parents accused of holding 13 kids captive

David and Louise Turpin pose with their family at a Las Vegas chapel where they renewed their vows in 2015. Police still don't have many answers as to why the Turpins allegedly held their 13 children captive. (Image source: video screenshot CNN)

Police still don't have many answers as to why David and Louise Turpin allegedly held their 13 children captive, some "shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings," inside their home in Perris, California, according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

What's the story?

David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were arrested Sunday after a 17-year-old girl escaped through a window of the family's suburban home and called 911 using a deactivated phone she found inside the house.

Police who responded to the call said the teen was emaciated and appeared to be "only 10 years old."

All the children were "very dirty," malnourished, and looked much younger than their actual ages, according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

Police say the children told them they were starving. The officers fed and interviewed the children before being taken to a hospital for treatment.

Do police know why this happened?

"I wish I could come to you today with information that would explain why this happened," said Capt. Greg Fellows of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department during a news conference Tuesday. "But we do need to acknowledge the courage of the young girl who escaped from that residence to bring attention so they could get the help they so needed."

Fellows told reporters that Louise Turpin appeared "perplexed" at why the police had come to her house.

It's unclear how long the children have lived in these conditions or how long they'd been held captive.

What does the aunt say?

Elizabeth Jane Flores of Tennessee told The Daily Mail it had been nearly two decades since she had seen her sister Louise Turpin.

Flores, a Christian motivational speaker, said she spoke on the phone with her sister occasionally, but was not allowed to talk with the children.

"We have been so worried about them because it's been so strange, but there was nothing we could do," Flores said, adding that no one in the family knew the family's address.

She told the Daily Mail that her parents booked several flights to visit the Turpin family, but once they got there, Louise and David Turpin wouldn't tell them where they lived.

"My parents left crying every time," Flores said. "I'm so embarrassed about all of this."

What do David Turpin's parents say about the accusations?

James and Betty Turpin of West Virginia, told ABC News they are “surprised and shocked” by the allegations against their son and daughter-in-law.

According to the grandparents, the children were required to memorize long Bible passages as part of their home-schooling.

It has been four or five years since the grandparents have seen their son and daughter-in-law, they told ABC. They have spoken by phone.

They said they noticed the children "looked thin," but the family appeared to be happy.

James and Betty Turpin said David and Louise Turpin are a considered a good Christian family and they don't understand "any of this."

"God called on them" to have as many children as they did, James and Betty Turpin said of their son and daughter-in-law, ABC reported.

What do we know so far?

• Police found 13 alleged victims, ages 2 to 29. Seven of the children are 18 and older.

• Sand Castle Day School, a nonreligious, co-ed private school, has been registered to the Turpin home since 2010 when they lived in Murietta, California, The Los Angeles Times reported. David Turpin is the principal, and six students were enrolled this year: one each in the fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth, 10th and 12th grades.

• The couple has renewed their marriage vows on several occasions in recent years, including once in Las Vegas in 2015 at an Elvis Presley-themed chapel, Reuters reported. The children are shown dressed alike in photos on David and Louise Turpin's Facebook account. The girls are all wearing pink plaid dresses with bows around their waists, white stockings, and white shoes. The boys are wearing matching black suits.

• David Turpin left his position as an engineer at Lockheed Martin Corp., a company spokeswoman told Reuters. His latest known job was at Northrop Grumman, where he also worked as an engineer.

• David Turpin filed for bankruptcy in 2011, Ivan Trahan, an attorney who represented him, told Reuters.

What are the charges?

Police have charged David and Louise Turpin with nine counts each of torture and 10 counts each of child endangerment, according to police.

The couple is expected to appear in court Thursday. They are each being held on $9 million bond.

One last thing…
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