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'Horror home' torture bought worse over time

21 January 2018
'Horror home' torture bought worse over time

Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin provided the first chilling details of the abuse allegedly inflicted on the 13 Turpin children over the last seven years - regular beatings, strangulation and starvation.

Prosecutors said the siblings, ranging in age from 2 to 29, suffered years of "severe" abuse.

The charges included torture, abuse of a dependent adult, child abuse or neglect and false imprisonment.

In addition to raising them largely in isolation, the children were forced to stay up all night and sleep during the day, Hestrin said.

The 13 siblings had never been to the dentist and hadn't been to the doctor in more than four years, Hestrin said.

The parents of 13 children and young adults have plead not guilty in a California court to numerous charges that they tortured and abused the siblings for years. Hestrin said all 13 victims were severely malnourished and as a result some have cognitive impairment and a lack of basic knowledge. A 12-year-old was the weight of a typical 7-year-old. Numerous children did not know what a police officer was, for example, and the 17-year-old who called to report the abuse did not know what pills or medications were upon police questioning. She was taken to the hospital to receive stitches on her face, and the dog was taken to a local veterinarian to be put down, according to the document.

Louise Turpin, 49, along with her husband, 57-year-old David Allen Turpin, are being held on $12.3 million NZD bail each. They're facing dozens of charges, including torture and child abuse, and face 94 years to life in prison if convicted of all the charges.

This week, authorities said that David and Louise Turpin were "unable to immediately provide a logical reason" why the children were shackled and chained and that Louise Turpin seemed "perplexed" by the investigators' questions.

"What we would like the public to know is that our clients are presumed to be innocent, and that's a very important presumption", David Macher, a public defender for David Turpin, told reporters.

Deputies found the children, who appeared small and malnourished, and some were chained to pieces of furniture.

Another aunt, Elizabeth Jane Flores, told ABC News' "Good Morning America" that she tried for years to get in touch with her sister, Louise Turpin, but Turpin shut her out. Louise Turpin identified herself as a housewife in a 2011 bankruptcy filing.

The abuse began at a Fort Worth, Texas, house the family occupied for 17 years starting in 1992, Hestrin said.

Some of the children would be chained for weeks or months at a time and wouldn't be freed to use the bathroom, he said. When not restrained, the children were locked in different rooms and fed little on a schedule.

The Turpins have 13 children, but prosecutors did not charge them with any crimes against their 2-year-old daughter.

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

"Victims report that as a punishment, starting many years ago, they began to be tied up", he explained. When the girl who escaped was asked if any pills were in the home, she did not understand what medication was.

"There was two of them that left the house", Hestrin said. "They were "sweetie" this and "sweetie" that to each other".

Prosecutors said the entire family would go to sleep around 4 a.m., sleep through the day and would be up all night. "You can give to these kids", Phillips said. 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 said the kids were rarely seen outside. "We were all like a part of their nightmare", he said, fighting back tears. 'This is depraved conduct'. "It breaks our hearts".

Hestrin added that the children were allowed to write in journals and that officials had recovered "hundreds of them", adding they "are going to be strong evidence of what occurred in that home". "We just knew there was no way they could make their payments", said Trahan.