The New York Times reports a 17-year-old girl, who claimed to have escaped confinement at the home southeast of Los Angeles, found a mobile phone within the house. The siblings found chained to their beds in their family home begged police for food after they were rescued following a daring escape by their fearless sister, it has been revealed.
The children were sent to Riverside University Hospital for treatment, while the adults were admitted to Corona Regional Medical Centre.
Police and deputies then went to the family home and questioned parents David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49.
They have been charged with torture and child endangerment, and bail has been set a US$9 million (NZ$12.3 million) each.
David's parents, James and Betty Turpin, spoke to ABC News on Tuesday about how they were "surprised and shocked" at the allegations against their son and daughter-in-law, who they described as "highly-respected".
The couple's Facebook page appears to show them in a wedding ceremony surrounded by all the children.
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A police statement said the parents did not give any logical reason why their children were being held in such appalling conditions.
When officers arrived, they discovered 12 people ages 2 to 29 being held captive in "dark and foul-smelling surroundings".
"The casualties gave off an impression of being malnourished and extremely filthy", the police said.
The childrens' grandparents said they were given "very strict homeschooling" that required them to memorize long Bible passages. "So, because of that, I thought that they were much younger than what they were", said Kimberly Milligan, a next-door neighbor. The address listed for the school is the same residence where the 13 victims were discovered, CNN reported.
Mr Turpin, a former engineer, filed for bankruptcy in 2011.