California couple charged with severely abusing children
A 17-year-old girl, who endured years and years of horrific abuse at the hands of her parents, managed to escape through a window and alert authorities last weekend. When police arrived at the victim’s family home, they were greeted by extreme filth, a foul stench, and the sight of three children in chains.
California couple David and Louise Turpin abused their 13 kids for eight years. Their disgusting rap sheet of charges includes: 12 counts of torture, 12 counts of false imprisonment, seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult, and six counts of child abuse or neglect. David Turpin has been charged with one count of lewd conduct with a child, as well. They have pled not guilty and face 94 years in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors revealed that the children — aged 2 to 29 — were held captive with ropes and chains and severely malnourished. They weren’t allowed to shower more than once a year, and were subject to beatings. The children were homeschooled and almost completely sheltered from the outside world. They were allegedly only fed once a day and none of them had ever gone to see a dentist.
“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,” Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said during a press conference.
Hestrin added that the siblings were severely punished for arbitrary reasons. “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,” he said.
According to David Turpin’s mother Betty — who saw the kids six years ago — all seemed well for the family. “I feel they were model Christians,” she told NBC. “It’s hard to believe all of this. Over the years, the Lord knows what happened.”
There were some (fairly obvious) hints, though, that something was very, very wrong. Mike Clifford, the family’s neighbor, told ABC News that he would come home from work at midnight and see the children marching single-file for hours. Clifford’s wife added that when spoken to, the kids would respond in a monotone, almost robotic way back.
The house was “extremely dirty,” Fellows recalled, and there was a terrible smell in the air. Three of the children were in chains. They were all so malnourished that, at first glance, the police officers assumed they were a group of minors. The couple’s eldest child, who is 29 years old, weighed only 82 pounds.
The Turpin’s next court date has been set for Feb. 23. Meanwhile, their children are currently being hospitalized for malnutrition and — for some — cognitive impairment from physical abuse.
“As a prosecutor, there are cases that stick with you, that will haunt you,” Hestrin said. “Sometimes in this business, we’re faced with looking at human depravity — and that’s what we’re looking at here.”
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