Turpin family: What we know about the California couple who allegedly held 13 children captive

WATCH: Police outline "horrific" conditions inside home where couple kept their 13 children.

LATEST: Here are the updates police provided on the case Tuesday afternoon

  • Captives had been held for “prolonged period of time”
  • All captives are confirmed to be biological children of captors
  • No evidence that the children were sexually abused
  • There had been no previous calls to police about this case

The unusual story of a California couple who allegedly held their 13 children captive garnered international headlines Monday.

But the police discovery of the siblings trapped “in dark and foul-smelling surroundings” inside a Perris, Calif., home also shocked neighbours and the couple’s other family members.

READ MORE: California teen’s escape leads police to find her 12 siblings held captive by parents, police say

The parents — David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49 — face charges of torture and child endangerment.

Riverside County Sheriff’s officials said they discovered the victims Sunday, after one of the children, a 17-year-old girl, escaped with a cellphone and contacted authorities.

READ MORE: 13 California siblings allegedly held captive ‘never allowed’ contact with relatives, aunt says

Police described the scene: “Several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings, but the parents were unable to immediately provide a logical reason why their children were restrained in that manner.”

“The victims appeared to be malnourished and very dirty,” a police press release added.

WATCH: Police say conditions inside the home amounted to “torture”

Social media posts

While the descriptions by police are disturbing, social media posts by the family tell a different story. Photos posted by the couple on Facebook in 2016 show the family happily celebrating what appears to be the parents’ wedding.

A photo of the Turpin family posted on Facebook in 2016.

A photo of the Turpin family posted on Facebook in 2016.

David-Louise Turpin/Facebook

Another post from 2011 shows the children and parents vacationing at Disneyland.

A photo of the Turpin family posted on Facebook.

A photo of the Turpin family posted on Facebook.

David-Louise Turpin/Facebook

The parents also posted other photos over the years, including several of his children dressed in matching outfits.

Grandparents ‘shocked’ at charges

The revelations by police sent shockwaves through on more than just an online audience. The parents of David Turpin, James and Betty Turpin, told ABC News they were “shocked” by the news, and had not visited with the family in several years but were in contact over the phone.

The grandparents explained that the couple had a large family because “God called on them” to have many children and that they were a Christian family. They added that the couple was “very strict” about homeschooling the children.

WATCH: Parents arrested after 12 children found shackled in California home

David Turpin is listed as the principal of the Sandcastle Day School — a private school with the same address as his home — on the California Department of Education website.

Family’s financial history

According to BBC News, the family moved from Texas to California in 2010 and had lived in the same house since then. David Turpin worked as an engineer at Northrop Grumman and aeronautics.

The home of David Allen and Louise Anna Turpin in Perris, Calif.

The home of David Allen and Louise Anna Turpin in Perris, Calif.

Mike Blake/Reuters

But the news outlet adds that the family’s expenses exceeded their earnings.

READ MORE: Minnesota teen raped, held captive for 29 days before swimming across lake to escape, prosecutors say

Records show the Turpins filed for bankruptcy in 2011. Nancy Trahan, who works in the Temecula, Calif., law office that handled the bankruptcy, said the couple were friendly and spoke highly of their children.

Neighbours describe the family as private

Neighbours told NBC News that the family was private and generally kept to themselves. They explained that the children were very thin, and often looked unhealthy and pale when seen outside.

“They looked very unnutrioned , very white like they never got sun at all,” one neighbour named Wendy Martinez said. “I mean, they would never come out and when they did, the lady would stand there watching them.”

READ MORE: Pennsylvania couple charged for ‘gifting’ daughter to man who allegedly impregnated her twice

“Everybody was super skinny, and not athletic skinny, but malnourished skinny,” another neighbour said.

— With files from Global News reporter Kevin Nielsen, Reuters 

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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