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California police have arrested two parents after allegedly finding their 13 children, some "shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks", as captives in their home.

David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were held on charges of torture and child endangerment with bail set at 9 million dollars each.

The couple lived in Perris, 59 miles (95km) south-east of Los Angeles with their children, aged between two and 29.

The Riverside Sheriff's Department said in a statement that officers were alerted by one of the victims, a 17-year-old girl who appeared to be "only 10 years old and slightly emaciated", on Sunday after she managed to escape, using a mobile phone she found inside to dial 911.

On arrival, police officers found "several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings". They were "shocked" to discover that seven of the children were actually adults aged between 18 and 29.

Police said, "The victims appeared to be malnourished and very dirty," and that "the parents were unable to immediately provide a logical reason why their children were restrained in that manner."

All 13 victims are being treated in various local hospitals.

Mark Uffer, who heads up one of the local hospitals told Reuters news agency: "It's actually heartbreaking for the staff and it's unbelievable what you see."

160 Muir Woods Road is a smart home in the suburbs with four vehicles parked in the driveway. The curtains are drawn with a Christmas decoration hanging in a window. It's hard to imagine how a family could hide a secret such as this in an estate that, while the houses on the road are spacious, they are close together.

It is unclear why and how long the siblings may have been held captive. According to public records, the couple moved to California in 2010 after leaving Texas where they lived for many years.

It has been stated that Mr Turpin has twice been declared bankrupt – during the second bankruptcy, he is said to have had a relatively well-paid job as an engineer at Northrop Grumman, an aeronautics and defence technology company. Records suggest, however, that with his wife unemployed and 13 children to look after, his expenses exceeded his income.

Mr Turpin is listed as the principal of Sandcastle Day School which opened in March 2011. According to the California Department of Education website, it's a private school operating out of his home with six pupils enrolled in different grades.

According to Mr Turpin's parents, their grandchildren were home-schooled, although "they had not seen the family for four or five years".

The couple's Facebook page shows numerous photos of the whole family, apparently happy and smiling, some from events where they renewed their vows, with many posts receiving comments from family or friends.

Neighbours are anxious about whether they should have spotted anything unusual about the family, one neighbour told Reuters that the Turpin family "were the type that you didn't really get to know anything about them".

"You would never see them on a visit, you would never see anyone come outside. All you would really see is that they go out and maybe do a grocery round. And that was about it," the neighbour added.

Another neighbour said that the "pale and skinny" children had been spotted "rummaging through the trash, looking for food" and that nobody knew how many people lived in the house as they were never seen more than three at a time.

Kimberly Milligan, 50, another neighbour, told the Los Angeles Times "they seemed strange and wondered why the children never came out to play.

"I thought the kids were home-schooled," she said. "You know something is off, but you don't want to think bad of people."

She recalls saying hello to the children on occasion but said they looked at her "like a child who wants to make themselves invisible".

Watch the video below for more.

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