A Californian couple remain in custody following a 911 call made by their 17-year old daughter who raised concerns about the treatment she and her siblings were receiving from their parents. When officers from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department arrived at the family home they found 12 of the teen’s siblings inside, including “several children shackled to beds with chains and padlocks in dark foul-smelling surroundings”.
Of the 13 sons and daughters living at the home in Perris, California, six were between 2 to 18 years old. Although the young person who sought help by calling 911 was 17, law enforcement officers who met with her commented how “she appeared to be only 10 years old and emaciated”.
Speaking at a news conference today, commander of the Perris Sheriff’s Station, Captain Greg Fellows, explained how “Deputies, when they arrived inside the house, noticed that the children were malnourished.. It was very dirty, and the conditions were horrific.”
He went on to tell reporters “if you can imagine being 17 years old and appearing to be a 10-year-old, being chained to a bed, being malnourished and having injuries associated with that, I would call that torture”.
“The parents were unable to immediately provide a logical reason why their children were restrained in that manner”
Captain Fellows explained that the children were home-schooled and this may be a reason why their treatment had evaded the authorities. When the parents were confronted by the police officers about the manner in which their children were shackled, Captain fellows shared with the press how “the parents were unable to immediately provide a logical reason why their children were restrained in that manner.”
Instead of being able to provide a reason for their children’s maltreatment, Captain Fellows revealed that “the mother was perplexed as to why we were at that residence”. He added that, previous to their daughter raising the alarm, law enforcement “had no prior contacts at that residence regarding any allegations of child abuse or neglect.”
“You know something is off, but you don’t want to think bad of people”
“I appreciate the courage that this juvenile had”
All 13 of their children have been hospitalised and, although the Riverside University Health System were unable to comment on the minors’ conditions, Corona Regional Medical Center CEO Mark Uffer revealed to the press that the seven adult siblings are “stable and being fed”. He added that, although the law meant he could provide comment on their treatment due to their age, it was “hard to think of them as adults when you first see them because they’re small, and it’s clear they’re malnutritioned”.
Captain Fellows wished to use his press conference to recognise the bravery of the 17-year-old daughter who escaped to bring police attention to the situation on Sunday. “I appreciate the courage that this juvenile had,” Fellows said, “to escape that house and get out there and report this to law enforcement”.