The parents allegedly forced the children to shower only once a year, shackled them to furniture and beat them routinely, Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said at a press conference. The Turpins also are accused of taunting their children with food. Hestrin said the children had not been to a doctor in four years and had never visited a dentist.
The 13 siblings, ages 2 to 29, have all been hospitalized. Hestrin said the oldest sibling, a 29-year-old woman, weighed only 82 pounds. He said a 12-year-old sibling was the weight of an average 7-year-old.
All of the siblings are being treated for malnutrition and undergoing other diagnostic tests.
"Circumstantial evidence in the house suggests that the victims were often not released from their chains to go to the bathroom," Hestrin said at the press conference. "If the children were found to wash their hands above the wrist area, they were accused of playing in the water, and they would be chained up."
The parents have each been charged with 12 counts of torture, 12 counts of false imprisonment, seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult and six counts of child abuse. In addition, David Turpin has been charged with one count of a lewd act on a child under the age of 14 by force, fear or duress. They have each pleaded not guilty to all charges.
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David Macher, a lawyer representing David Turpin, told ABC News: "What we would like the public to know is that our clients are presumed to be innocent, and that's a very important presumption," adding, "We're going to provide a vigorous defense."
Meanwhile, Hestrin said that when the siblings were not chained up, they were locked in different rooms and were not allowed to have toys. Investigators said they found many toys in the house; however, they were reportedly in their original packaging and had never been opened.
The Turpins are accused of starting the torture of their children when they lived in a rural area of North Texas near Fort Worth. Hestrin said the torture "intensified over time and worsened" when they moved to California in 2014.
“They were fed very little, on a schedule," Hestrin added.
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The moved to a middle-class neighborhood in Perris, about 70 miles southeast of Los Angeles, where they home-schooled their children and allegedly kept them trapped inside the home.
A sister of Louise Turpin, Elizabeth Flores, told ABC the couple kept to themselves.
“This has been going on before they even had children. … They were real private, and they didn’t come around much,” Flores said.
“We begged to Skype (with) them,” Flores said. “We begged to see them.”