Posted: January 28, 2018
By Carlin Becker, Rare.us
HILL COUNTY, Texas —
According to a former neighbor, the family in the California "torture house" case mysteriously disappeared from their Texas home in 2010, just days after one of their 13 children escaped and went looking for help.
David and Louise Turpin reportedly moved their family around often and suddenly left the Texas home they had lived in from 1999-2010 after one of their children allegedly got out of the house in search of assistance. According to the neighbor, the girl “went walking down the road” when another neighbor saw her and took her back home. Before they arrived at her house, the girl reportedly asked to use a telephone. The neighbor believes she called 911 because the family vanished a few days later.
“It wasn’t until about a few days later that they left,” she said. “They just disappeared. He didn’t make any more payments on that place or anything.”
The Riverside district attorney said the parents’ alleged abuse may have begun while the family was living in the Texas home. At one point, the Turpins reportedly moved into a mobile home on the property and even stayed at a separate home from their children on some occasions, coming by now and then to drop off food.
The Turpins were arrested earlier this month after one of their daughters climbed out a window in their California home and called police. They face 94 years to life in prison if convicted of the 38 charges pressed against them, including child abuse, torture and false imprisonment. On Wednesday, a judge barred them against having any direct or indirect contact with their children and ordered them to stay at least 100 yards away from them at all times. They have both pleaded not guilty.
Terry Pierson/The Press-Enterprise, Pool via AP
Terry Pierson/The Press-Enterprise, Pool via AP
David and Louise Turpin, the California couple who were charged with torture and child abuse after authorities accused them of holding their 13 children captive in dire conditions, previously lived in Texas, several news outlets have reported.
ABC News reported Thursday that it had acquired pictures from inside the family’s former Texas home, near Fort Worth. The pictures were submitted by the home’s current owner, who took the pictures after he bought the foreclosed property about 18 years ago.
The pictures, which can be seen here, show stained carpets and walls. The current owner told ABC it required an “extensive cleanup” and that he and his wife “believed that the previous occupants destroyed the house because it was being foreclosed on.”
The anonymous owner also told ABC that feces were smeared all over the walls of every room at the time that he bought the home.
The Associated Press reported Friday that a prosecutor in the case said the Turpins limited their children to one shower a year and one meal a day.
After realizing he attended grade school with the oldest of the 13 Turpin siblings allegedly tortured by their own parents, Taha Muntajibuddin wrote an emotional Facebook post — which he later confirmed with The Associated Press — that described the girl as frail, having poor hygiene and being a target for torment by her classmates.
The girl, now a 29-year-old woman, was rescued along with her other siblings from their home in Perris, California, on Jan. 14. The parents, David and Louise Turpin, were arrested and face multiple charges, including torture, to which they have pleaded not guilty.
Muntajibuddin, now a pediatrics resident doctor in Houston, said he attended kindergarten through third grade with the oldest Turpin child in Fort Worth, Texas. He described her as “a frail girl, [who] had pin-straight hair with bangs and often wore the same purple outfit.” Muntajibuddin expressed an “overwhelming sense of guilt and shame” over the way he and his classmates treated her.
Muntajibuddin reflected: “It is nothing but sobering to know that the person who sat across from you at the lunch table went home to squalor and filth while you went home to a warm meal and a bedtime story."
Reactions to his post, which we are not displaying because it identifies the victim, have varied; some readers have praised Muntajibuddin for his speaking about and condemning his youthful actions, while others were angry that he took part in bullying the girl as a child.
“It was just meant to be an honest lesson: Take it or leave it,” he told the AP in an interview Tuesday.
Anthony Kirchner, a spokesman for the Crowley Independent School District, confirmed that the girl and Muntajibuddin attended the school at the same time. However, Kirchner was unable to determine when she enrolled or departed, or whether any of her siblings attended the school. Elementary schools are required to hold onto such records for only five years.
Muntajibuddin did have positive things to say about the girl, writing that she, "despite being vehemently vilified by her peers, was still one of the most pleasant people I have had the opportunity to meet. She had this whimsical optimism to her that couldn’t be dampened, couldn’t be doused no matter what anybody threw at her.”
He added: “The resounding lesson here is a simple one, something that we’re taught from the very beginning: Be nice.”
The Turpin children’s story is one that has shocked and appalled people all across America and the world, but their story is far from over.
Before they were discovered, the 13 siblings, ranging in age from 2 to 29, were found living in squalor and malnourished and were chained and padlocked to beds.
Although the children of David Turpin, 56, and Louise Turpin, 49, endured living in horrible conditions together, they will now recover from it apart.
CBS News reported that the six youngest children, all minors, are going to be split up between two foster homes, while the seven adult children will stay in an assisted living facility.
Citing a source close to the investigation, CBS said that the children all have “diminished mental capacity.”
Riverside District Attorney Mike Hestrin provided further details. He said the oldest child, a 29-year-old woman, weighed 82 pounds and the children “lack a basic knowledge of life” and “many of the children didn’t know what a police officer was.”
Muntajibuddina said that she was bullied by classmates who had no idea what she was going through because of her appearance and hygiene.
“It is nothing but sobering to know that the person who sat across from you at the lunch table went home to squalor and filth while you went home to a warm meal and a bedtime story,” he wrote in the post.
Louise Turpin’s sister, Teresa Robinette, went public with details of childhood sexual abuse by an unidentified male relative that she, her siblings and mother all suffered. She struggled through tears while discussing the alleged abuse on “Megyn Kelly Today.”
Robinette said the man was a a close family member she and her family should have been able to trust and love.
“He abused my mother and sexually abused my mother, and then me and Louise, Elizabeth and a few our cousins in the family. That was a situation that was ongoing for me and my sisters,” she said. “My mother still took us around this person a lot — including Louise.”
Another one of Louise Turpin’s siblings, 41-year-old Elizabeth Flores, spoke to “Good Morning America” about her experience with the family and had a message for her sister.
“I want her to know that she’s still my blood and I love her.” Flores said. She added that while Louise Turpin’s alleged actions hurt the family, Flores was praying for salvation.
To her nieces and nephews, Flores said that she wanted to contact them and let them know that she and other family members have been trying to make contact with them for several years. Flores previously said that the Turpins thwarted communication attempts from the rest of the family.
David Turpin’s family also commented on the situation. His parents, James and Betty Turpin, told ABC News that they were “surprised and shocked” by the allegations. They said they had not seen the couple in at least four or five years, but spoke to their son once or twice a month.
The couple allegedly kept their 13 children in subhuman conditions. According to police, they were chained, beaten, only allowed to bathe twice a year and eat once a day, and not allowed to go outside. The children reportedly kept journals to cope with their captivity, which are now being reviewed by law enforcement officials.
The couple made their first court appearance Jan. 18. They face 92 years to life in prison if convicted of all charges, which include torture.
David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, are accused of shackling and torturing their 13 children, ages 2 to 29, for years. A new report underlined part of the relationship that the California couple had with at least one of their children.
KABC reports that despite a lacking home education, the eldest son was permitted to attend classes at Mount San Jacinto College, a local community college. However, Riverside County District Attorney Michael A. Hestrin said there were significant conditions to his attendance.
“Louise Turpin would accompany him, wait outside of the classroom for him,” he said. “When he was finished with class, she would take him home.”
Despite the alleged factors of his home life, the son maintained a 3.93 grade-point average after attending school for six semesters.
The college said in a statement that it was aware of the Turpin child’s past enrollment.
“We at Mount San Jacinto College are deeply saddened and horrified to hear of the allegations involving these children,” the college said. “Our hearts go out to the victims. MSJC will follow this story and will provide appropriate support from our institution.”
The college cited the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act in declining to give further information.
The Turpins are accused of beating, strangling, binding and allowing their children to shower only once a year. The father is also accused of committing a lewd act against one of the children.
Following their parents’ arrest, the Turpin siblings finally tasted freedom.
A surveillance video shows the siblings exiting the house where they were allegedly held captive. One grown sibling is shown carrying one of the younger children while another sibling is seen running to the silver van in the driveway that would take them from the house which reports have described as a nightmare.
David and Louise Turpin were arrested after one of their daughters reportedly escaped from the home and called police. The children were found Jan. 14 at their home in Perris, California. The Turpin parents are accused of abusing their children for years.
The parents allegedly forced the children to shower only once a year, shackled them to furniture and beat them routinely, Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said at a press conference. The Turpins also are accused of taunting their children with food. Hestrin said the children had not been to a doctor in four years and had never visited a dentist.
The 13 siblings, ages 2 to 29, have all been hospitalized. Hestrin said the oldest sibling, a 29-year-old woman, weighed only 82 pounds. He said a 12-year-old sibling was the weight of an average 7-year-old.
All of the siblings are being treated for malnutrition and undergoing other diagnostic tests.
“Circumstantial evidence in the house suggests that the victims were often not released from their chains to go to the bathroom,” Hestrin said at the press conference. “If the children were found to wash their hands above the wrist area, they were accused of playing in the water, and they would be chained up.”
The parents have each been charged with 12 counts of torture, 12 counts of false imprisonment, seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult and six counts of child abuse. In addition, David Turpin has been charged with one count of a lewd act on a child under the age of 14 by force, fear or duress. They have each pleaded not guilty to all charges.
David Macher, a lawyer representing David Turpin, told ABC News: “What we would like the public to know is that our clients are presumed to be innocent, and that’s a very important presumption,” adding, “We’re going to provide a vigorous defense.”
Meanwhile, Hestrin said that when the siblings were not chained up, they were locked in different rooms and were not allowed to have toys. Investigators said they found many toys in the house; however, they were reportedly in their original packaging and had never been opened.
The Turpins are accused of starting the torture of their children when they lived in a rural area of North Texas near Fort Worth. Hestrin said the torture “intensified over time and worsened” when they moved to California in 2014.
“They were fed very little, on a schedule," Hestrin added.
The moved to a middle-class neighborhood in Perris, about 70 miles southeast of Los Angeles, where they home-schooled their children and allegedly kept them trapped inside the home.
A sister of Louise Turpin, Elizabeth Flores, told ABC the couple kept to themselves.
“This has been going on before they even had children. … They were real private, and they didn’t come around much,” Flores said.
“We begged to Skype (with) them,” Flores said. “We begged to see them.”
ABC News reported that the parents were moving from California to Oklahoma days before they were arrested and charged with torture and child endangerment, citing multiple unnamed sources.
David Turpin was getting a job transfer with a defense contractor he was working with, according to ABC News. Moving boxes were reportedly found at the residence. The report says the family has moved to multiple places over the years, including a home in Texas.
The couple’s 17-year-old daughter escaped the home early Jan. 14 and called 911, saying her 12 siblings were “being held captive” at a Perris, California, residence by her parents.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said in a Jan. 15 news release that the siblings, ranging in ages from 2 to 29, “appeared to be malnourished and very dirty.” Six of the siblings are minors.
Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were charged with 12 counts of torture and a lewd act on a child by force or fear of duress. The siblings could only have one meal a day and take one shower a year. Hestrin said at a news conference that the siblings were able to write in journals all the time, which will provide “strong evidence of what occurred in that home.”
Two dogs were found by authorities in the home, according to city spokesman Joe Vargo. Vadrgo said in a statement that the two Maltese terrier dogs were in much better condition than the siblings.
“The animals, one white and one black, appear healthy and friendly and are leash-trained, according to Christina Avila, a senior animal control officer,” a news release from the City of Perris said.
The parents made their first court appearance Thursday and entered not guilty pleas to all charges. Their bail is set at $13 million. They are scheduled to appear in court again Feb. 23.
Although the children in the home, ages 2 to 29, were only allowed to bathe twice a year and eat once a day, they were allowed to write in journals, authorities said. District Attorney Mike Hestrin said in a press conference that the children kept hundreds of journals, and he believes they will be “very significant” in the upcoming court case, the Desert Sun reports. Hestrin added that he thinks the journals will provide “strong evidence of what occurred in that home.”
Researchers are also interested in the journals as they detail the firsthand accounts of the alleged abuse. One academic told the Desert Sun: “There is a good chance that being able to write may have kept them sane. In an interesting way, this may have helped them come to terms with the bizarre world they lived in.” He even compared them to the journals kept by Anne Frank.
The journals could prove valuable for prosecutors as they might provide evidence that could be used to cross-examine the parents, David and Louise Turpin. The Turpins are facing life in prison for a series of charges, including torture.
The journals have not been made public, and law enforcement officials are currently in the process of reviewing them.
The conditions in the home were unimaginable, authorities said. The children reportedly were beaten and chained to furniture. Neighbors recalled seeing them marching during the night. They were discovered when one girl escaped and managed to find a police officer, authorities said.
David and Louise Turpin are facing a string of charges, including torture, after police say the couple kept their 13 children locked away in subhuman conditions in their Perris, California, home. On Thursday, the Turpins made their first court appearance.
David Turpin appeared in chains, wearing a lavender shirt and black jacket while his wife sat nearby, also in chains and a black jacket. The Turpins entered not guilty pleas to all of the charges, some of which date back to 2010. The district attorney says the couple is facing 94 years to life in prison if convicted on all counts.
During the arraignment, the Turpins were quiet and spoke only to say they acknowledged their right to a speedy preliminary hearing, CBS reports. They will appear in court again on Feb. 23, and their bail was set at $13 million.
District Attorney Mike Hestrin said in a press conference, “As a prosecutor, there are cases that stick with you, that will haunt you. Sometimes, in this business, we’re faced with looking at human depravity, and that’s what we’re looking at here.”
Authorities said the parents were able to keep their children hidden away by listing their home as a private school. Some of the kids, who ranged in ages from 2 to 29, reportedly didn’t know what a police officer was.
The children were only allowed to eat once a day and shower twice a year, authorities said. However, the parents reportedly did allow them to keep journals, and authorities said the kids filled hundreds of notebooks. Those have not been released and are still being reviewed by law enforcement.
The children are currently being cared for in the hospital, authorities said. The Riverside University Health System has set up a fund for the children that will go to their long-term needs, according to a press release. The hospital said the children have already seen a tremendous outpouring of support.
Brian Rokos of the Press-Enterprise was present at the hearing and reported that David Turpin is being represented by a public defender, while Louise Turpin has outside counsel. During Thursday’s arraignment, the public defender requested that media be banned from the trial, but the judge shot that down. Rokos said reporters from around the world were in the courtroom. The Turpins' lawyers have not announced whether they will try to have the case moved out of Riverside County.
A pair of well-kept dogs were taken from the Perris, California, house where 13 children were found shackled and severely malnourished last week.
David Turpin, 57, and Louise Turpin, 49, are facing a minimum of 94 years for charges including child neglect and torture after police said their children, ranging from ages 2 to 29, were discovered in their home severely malnourished.
In a statement on Wednesday, city spokesman Joe Vargo said authorities recovered two Maltese terrier dogs in far better condition than the Turpins’ children. The 1-year-old female puppies were reportedly healthy and were taught skills, People reported.
“The animals, one white and one black, appear healthy and friendly and are leash-trained, according to Christina Avila, a senior animal control officer,” a press release from the city of Perris said.
Investigators said the children were only allowed showers a few times per year and were fed only once per day. In a press conference with reporters Thursday, District Attorney Mike Hestrin alleged that the last time any of the children had seen a doctor was four years ago and they had never been to a dentist. Police said the parents allegedly kept themselves well-fed and regularly ate pies in front of their children to taunt them, ABC News reported.
The 17-year-old who reportedly escaped the home through a bedroom window to alert authorities was initially believed to be just 10 years old due to the severity of her malnourishment, while the oldest victim, a 29-year-old woman, weighed only 82 pounds when the children were found. According to Hestrin, the children “lack a basic knowledge of life,” although they were allegedly homeschooled, KTLA reported.
According to the Daily Mail, the parents face a combined total of 75 charges, and each was being held on $12 million bond.
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