Thirteen siblings, ranging in age from two to 29, were rescued by police in California from a house where some of them had been chained to beds, and their parents have been charged with torture.
- Thirteen siblings rescued from California home
- Some of the children were chained to beds
- The siblings told police officers that they were starving
Police made the discovery after a 17-year-old girl escaped the house in Perris, about 113 kilometres east of Los Angeles, and used a mobile phone she had found in the house to call them, the Riverside County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.
"Deputies located what they believed to be 12 children inside the house, but were shocked to discover that seven of them were actually adults," police said.
"The victims appeared to be malnourished and very dirty."
The girl, who officers had initially thought was about 10 years old, contacted police on Sunday after escaping.
The children's parents, David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were arrested and each charged with nine counts of torture and 10 counts of child endangerment.
They were ordered held on $11.3 million bail, police said.
Six of the couple's children are minors, while the other seven are over 18, police said.
The siblings told officers that they were starving and they were provided with food and drink, police said.
Police did not detail the parents' motive for holding the children hostage, and a spokesman said he had no further details.
Neighbours said the Turpins and their children rarely emerged from their unkempt home in the new built development of closely spaced single-family houses.
Neighbour Wendy Martinez said her only contact with the Turpins came as she passed the house at night in October.
Four children were installing sod in the yard while the mother watched from the door, and none responded when Ms Martinez said hello.
"They were very afraid. Like they had never seen people before," she said of the children.
California state records list David Turpin as the principal of the Sandcastle Day School, with its address at the Turpin house.
Records show the Turpins filed for bankruptcy in 2011.
Nancy Trahan, who works in the Temecula, California, law office that handled the bankruptcy, said the couple were friendly and spoke highly of their children.
"They seemed like very nice people," she said by telephone.
The neighbourhood is made up of low-slung, stucco single-family homes, according to images online.
The parents are next due in court on Thursday.