Police were first alerted to the crimes at the Turpin residence when one of the siblings managed to escape from the house. Investigators went to the house and freed the children, prompting days of investigations that led to a series of charges.
"As a prosecutor, there are cases that stick with you, that will haunt you", Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin said at a news conference Thursday. "Some deal with human depravity, and that's what we're dealing with here".
David and Louise Turpin were both born in West Virginia. Their attorneys said they were still reviewing the serious allegations and declined to comment on specific allegations. One of the adult children attended school but Louise would wait outside his classroom to take him home after the classes.
"The abuse and severe neglect intensified over time and intensified as they moved to California", Hestrin said. "They immediately shut down".
As for the parents, she added: "They deserve no mercy whatsoever".
The abuse began when the family lived in Fort Worth, Hestrin said.
"This is severe emotional and physical abuse", Hestrin said Thursday. The kids were chained in rooms for weeks - even months at a time - not even allowed to go to the restroom. They were apparently allowed to wash their hands, but if they "were found to have washed their hands above the wrist area, they were accused of playing in the water", Hestrin said. "They weren't allowed to have friends over - the normal things that kids do", the children's aunt, Teresa Robinette, told NBC's "Today" show.
The pair are also accused of tormenting the children by putting apple and pumpkin pies on the kitchen counter, but not letting them have any. Another child initially joined her, but turned back.
Three of the siblings were chained at the moment police arrived at the house Sunday, Hestrin said. Some of the victims' growth was so stunted, they looked younger than their ages, according to officials. An 11-year-old and a 14-year-old child were unchained as the police stood at the front door, but police found a 22-year-old still chained to a bed.
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One 12-year-old is so malnourished that his weight was that of the average 7-year-old, and the 29-year-old female victim weighs 82 pounds, Hestrin said. They entered not guilty pleas on all counts.
Mr Hestrin said there had been no torture charge filed in relation to the two-year-old because the toddler appeared to be "getting enough food".
Authorities arrested the couple Sunday after their 17-year-old daughter grabbed a cellphone, jumped out a window and fled into the night. Other charges included seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult, six counts of child abuse or neglect and 12 counts of false imprisonment.
David Turpin has also been charged with a lewd act on a child by force or fear of duress. Bail is set at $12 million per defendant, according to CBS News. Their next court date is set for February 23.
If convicted of all charges, the Turpins could face a maximum sentence of 94 years to life in prison. "They were just like any ordinary family", said Betty Turpin, the 81-year-old mother of David Turpin.
As the criminal case proceeds, the future of the children will likely be decided in another courtroom. "None of the victims have seen a doctor in more than four years", he said.
"However, there are times where the court may not want to make that ruling until it's further on in the criminal case".
But she said she did have disturbing memories of the husband.
The children were also beaten and choked, Hestrin said.