The maternal aunt of the 13 "malnourished" children, who were bound with chains and padlocks by their parents inside a California house of horrors, has revealed that she was never allowed to speak to her nephews and nieces. Also, their parents never allowed the family to visit them, raising suspicions that something was not right in that house, Elizabeth Jane Flores added.

She said that though she stayed in touch with her sister, Louise Anna Turpin, through phone, but did not meet her for the past 19 years. Flores said that Turpin never invited her or any family member to her place for all these years.

"Something didn't seem right about her parenting but never would I have expected it to be like this," Flores from Cleveland, Tennessee, told the DailyMailTV.

"They wouldn't let anyone visit and we didn't know their address. I haven't seen her in 19 years. We would talk on the phone from time to time, but every time I would ask to talk to her kids, she wouldn't let me."

The comments from the mother-of-seven came after 49-year-old Louise was arrested along with her husband, David Allen Turpin, 57 for holding their children captive. They have been charged with torture and child endangerment after the siblings, aged from two to 29, were found in a filthy home in Perris, 35 miles east of Los Angeles.

Flores, who is an author and Christian motivational speaker, has reportedly mentioned in a blog that she herself was a victim of child abuse. A book, Resilience In The Storm, published in 2016 states that Louise's sister was molested as a child by a family member that she "loved so much".

"I think I was around nine years old when a family member that I loved so much and I was supposed to be able to trust, molested me. It continued all through my childhood and teen years," Flores has revealed in the book. However, she did not mention anything about Louise if she too had a troubled childhood.

Meanwhile, the Riverside County Sheriff's department said on Monday (15 January) that the siblings were found in "dark and foul-smelling surroundings" after a 17-year-old girl managed to escape from the address. It was not immediately clear why the couple restrained their children in that way and for how long.

Further investigation revealed that the couple had bought the property in August 2014. They were allegedly running a school from the house, but neighbours said they never saw any sign of parents arriving to drop off their children.

"You know what, I drive past this way every day but I've never seen the family or anything. Never anybody coming in or out," Janeece Calhoun, a neighbour, said.

Some other neighbours said they did not even know children lived in the property and were shocked to learn about the discovery. Andrew Santillan, who lives nearby said, "I didn't know there were kids in the house. I had no idea this was going on."

"It's very shocking. Very devastating," another neighbour added.

According to media reports, out of the 13 siblings, seven were between the age of 18 and 29, and are receiving treatment at Corona Regional Medical Center in Corona. While the remaining six, including the 17-year-old who escaped, have been admitted at the Riverside University Health System Medical Center in Moreno Valley.