The 13 malnourished children who were allegedly kept captive and abused by their parents, until the couple’s arrest earlier this week, were allowed to shower only twice a year, according to an NBC News report.
A law enforcement source close to the investigation told the network that, in addition to being refused daily showers, the children of David and Louise Turpin — both suspected of torture and child endangerment — were fed one meal a day.
The NBC report aired on the Today show Thursday morning. Authorities said at a news conference later Thursday that, in fact, the children were allowed to shower no more than once a year and were regularly fed very little.
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David, 56, and Louise, 49, will be arraigned on Thursday morning in a California court, where they will have their first opportunity to enter pleas.
PEOPLE was unable to ascertain if either defendant is represented by legal counsel who could comment on their behalf. They remain in custody in lieu of $9 million bail.
The Turpins were arrested after their 17-year-old daughter climbed through one of the windows of their Perris, California, home early on Sunday and called 911 using a disconnected cell phone she had found, authorities have said.
Police allege that thee 13 Turpin children — ranging in ages from 2 to 29 — were found living in squalor, with some “shackled” to furniture. Malnutrition apparently stunted their growth.
A neighbor at their former home in Murrieta, California, told ABC News he noticed unusual activity coming from the Turpin house.
“I’d come home anywhere from 12:30 to 3 in the morning to see the kids marching [inside the house] in single file for hours,” Mike Clifford said.
The children, he explained, also had some unusual behaviors.
“They talked very monotone and robotic and they talked at the same time, saying the same thing,” Clifford said.
A Perris neighbor spoke to PEOPLE this week and recounted some “odd” behaviors exhibited by the family.
Elizabeth Flores, one of Louise Turpin’s estranged sisters, also spoke to ABC News about how strict the couple was with their children.
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“They were really strict on the oldest daughter,” Flores said. “She was bound to her room a lot and they would let her come down and eat meals. Before she sat down, she had to get permission and she knew she had to look her mom in the eye and there would be a smile between them and she’d tell her, ‘Go ahead.'”
Other relatives have spoken out about the children’s treatment.
Medical officials treating the siblings say they will endure a long recovery period.