The sister of a woman accused of torturing her children in California said Tuesday that she is devastated to find out about the conditions her nieces and nephews were living in.
"Across the U.S., you can't really do anything for your nieces and nephews. There's no words," Teresa Robinette said.
Robinette lives in Cleveland, Tennessee. Her sister and brother-in-law, David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, are being held on a $9 million bond accused of starving and torturing their 13 children for years.
When deputies arrived at the family's Southern California home on Sunday, the children and young adults were found malnourished, in filthy conditions, and some were chained to furniture.
The deputies had been summoned by a 17-year-old daughter who jumped out a window and called 911. She was so malnourished, investigators initially thought she was 10 years old.
The children, ages 2 to 29, are all believed to be the Turpins' biological offspring, authorities said.
"It seems the mother was perplexed as to why they were at residence," the city of Perris Police Chief, Captain Greg Fellows, said.
Neighbors said there were hints the family was odd, but not to the point of concern.
"They never were mean, but the vibe I got was stay in your zone, and we'll stay in our zone. That's the vibe I got," neighbor Kimberly Milligan said.
Louise Turpin's sister, Teresa Robinette, said their family lost touch with Louise several years ago after she left home to get married at 16 and cut ties.
“My parents before they died in 2016 begged to see her. Even on their on their deathbed they asked to see her," Robinette said. "She didn’t even show up to either of their funerals. So we have really no connection with Louise in a long, long time since we were young.”
The family had lived in Perris since 2014, and deputies had never been to the residence previously for any reason, Fellows said.
Social workers had never visited either, said Susan von Zabern, director of the county Department of Public Social Services.
All of the children are now being cared for by medical personnel.
"They're very friendly, very cooperative, and i believe they're hopeful life will get better for them from this event," Corona Regional Medical Center CEO Mark Uffer said.
They were being fed and were listed in stable condition.
It was not immediately known if the parents had attorneys. They were scheduled to appear in court later Thursday.