The parents of 13 siblings that range in age from two to 29 have been charged with torture after their children were rescued by police from a house in California where some of them had been chained to beds.
The horrific case came to light when a 17-year-old girl escaped the house in Perris, east of Los Angeles, using a cell phone she'd found to call police.
"Deputies located what they believed to be 12 children inside the house, but were shocked to discover that seven of them were actually adults," the Riverside County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.
"The victims appeared to be malnourished and very dirty."
After the young girl's escape on Sunday (local time) the children's parents, David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were both arrested and charged with nine counts of torture and 10 counts of child endangerment.
The couple have been held on bail of $US9 million.
Police say six of the children are minors and the other seven are 18 and over.
When quizzed by police the children said they were starving. No motive has yet been established for why the children were held hostage.