Dogs found in Turpin family home to be raffled for adoption

Jon Howard
January 21, 2018

David Turpin is also charged with one count of committing a lewd act on a child by force.

The Perris Police Department has responded to the home on Sunday when the 17-year-old girl escaped from the house with a mobile phone and called 911, saying her parents were holding her 12 brothers and sisters captive.

"In more than 20 years as a prosecutor in Riverside County, this is one of the most disturbing cases I've seen", Hestrin said, according to NBC News.

The 13 siblings had never been to the dentist and hadn't been to the doctor in more than four years, Hestrin said. Hestrin said all 13 victims were severely malnourished and as a result some have cognitive impairment and a lack of basic knowledge.

The 12-year-old weighed as much as an average seven-year-old and the 29-year-old weighed only 82lb (37kg). "The 17-year-old, when asked whether there was medication or pills in the home, didn't know what medication or pills were". The district attorney said the abuse began in Texas and "intensified" as they years went on in California.

Officers also initially assumed all the other siblings to be children, but were shocked to discover seven ranging in age from 18 to 29.

The teen who escaped was so malnourished she appeared no older than 10. The parents were jailed on $12 million bail each after pleading not guilty Thursday at their first court appearance.

David and Lousie Turpin fronted court and each face 94 years to life in prison if convicted.

The allegations cover the time the Turpins have lived in California, but Hestrin said the abuse started while the family lived in Texas. "It's a very serious case", he said.

"Our clients are presumed to be innocent", said attorney David Macher.

James Turpin of Princeton, West Virginia, told The Associated Press he's going to talk to his son's children to "find out the real story" as soon as he can get a call through to them.

Riverside County sheriff's Capt. Greg Fellows described the reaction of 49-year-old Louise Turpin but didn't know the reaction of the father, 57-year-old David Turpin. Authorities state that Louise Turpin appeared "perplexed" as to why the police were there.

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Photos from the Texas home where David and Louise Turpin lived with their now-adult children almost two decades ago show a filthy, decrepit interior that most likely had human feces on the walls, the current owner told ABC News.

The abuse began in Texas with the children being tied to beds with ropes and then hog-tied, Hestrin said. Officials say their children were malnourished and chained to furniture. When not restrained, the children were locked in different rooms and fed little on a schedule.

The parents have been charged with torture after some of their children were found by police chained to beds. Human waste in the house indicated the children were prevented from using the toilet.

The sheriff's captain says deputies had never been to the home and neither had social service workers.

According to reports, the children spent the past two years hatching a plan to escape.

In addition to raising them largely in isolation, the parents may have been able to hide the abuse by functioning while other families slept. In the neighborhood where the kids were hardly known, a steady flow of strangers visited the house Thursday and left stuffed animals and large bouquets of red heart-shaped balloons on the walkway. He recalled seeing the Turpin children doing yard work in the evenings but it didn't seem unusual in light of the blazing midday heat.

Neighbors have described the family as unusual but said there was nothing untoward that would have suggested that something sinister was taking place inside the home.

As he puts it: "We were all like a part of their nightmare". "They would buy food, including pies, apple pies, pumpkin pies, leave it on the counter, let the children look at it but not eat the food".

In response to a public records request by The Associated Press, Perris Assistant City Clerk Judy Haughney said Wednesday that there were no records of any fire inspections conducted at the home. "It breaks our hearts".

Ironically, Hestrin noted, "about the only thing the children were allowed to do" in captivity was to write.

In the meantime, they're tapping into another resource - the siblings' journals, hundreds of which were recovered by investigators.

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