Parents of 13 siblings found beaten and shackled plead not guilty
Parents of 13 siblings found beaten and shackled plead not guilty
Police find 12 people held captive in California home after teen escapes
20 January, 2018, 05:15
No state agency regulates or oversees private schools in California, but they are subject to an annual inspection by the state or local fire marshal. Later, chains and padlocks were used.
The litany of abuses was enough to invoke a house of horrors that apparently went unnoticed for years in California and Texas until Sunday, when a 17-year-old girl managed to escape and call 911.
On Thursday, the parents - David Allen Turpin and Louise Anna Turpin - were charged with multiple felony counts of torture, child abuse, abuse of dependent adults and false imprisonment.
David Turpin was also charged with one count of lewd act on a child by force or fear or duress.
"This is depraved conduct", Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said. "There's no way around that".
The police Thursday provided their first detailed account of the siblings' condition and treatment. But again, the children were not allowed to eat them.
The Turpin parents allowed their children to eat only one meal a day but the parents would sometimes buy food, like pumpkin pies, and place it where the children could see it but not eat it. The children were reared on the graveyard shift, with the family staying up all night and going to bed shortly before dawn, Hestrin said. "They're going to experience a culture shock even apart from the trauma they have undergone", said Costales, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist who has treated kidnap victims, some held for years. When washing their hands, if they washed above their wrists, they would be accused of playing in the water and would be chained up, he said.
"Several of the victims have cognitive impairment and neuropathy, which is nerve damage as a result of this extreme and prolonged physical abuse", he said. "They were just like any ordinary family", Betty, 81, said.
Hestrin said that at least one of the older victims attended some outside classes.
She fled through a window with a sibling, who then became afraid and returned to the house, he added. Under federal law, cellphones - even those that are no longer operational - must be able to call emergency services. An 11-year-old and 14-year-old were unchained as deputies stood at the door, Hestrin said. According to the Riverside County Sheriff's department, the individuals were "shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings". A 12-year-old was the weight of a typical 7-year-old.
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The parents David, 57, and Louise Turpin, 49, now face charges of torture and child endangerment.
When the 17-year-old was asked if there was medication or pills in the home, she did not know what medication or pills were.
"What we would like the public to know is that our clients are presumed to be innocent, and that's a very important presumption", said David Macher, a public defender for David Turpin.
"I'm seriously so heartbroken for my nieces and nephews", she said. "I'm mad. I'm hurt".
David and Louise Turpin have pleaded not guilty to torturing their 13 children. It opened in 2011, and enrolled six students during the 2016-2017 school year, one in each the fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth, 10th and 12th grades, according to the directory. The charges involve acts in Riverside County dating to 2010.
While the children's ordeal began when the family was living in the Fort Worth region of Texas, it "intensified over time and worsened" when they moved to California.
The Turpin children were often tied up for "weeks or even months at a time", Hestrin told a roomful of reporters on Thursday.
Police are still trying to piece together the extent of the abuse and encourage people to contact them with any information that may further reveal what was happening in the Turpin house.
Despite this, two healthy dogs were found in the family home. "We are at the beginning, not the end".
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