13 Siblings Held Captive Could Shower Once a Year

Charges filed Thursday against David and Louise Turpin
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 18, 2018 2:10 PM CST
13 Siblings Held Captive Could Shower Once a Year
This Oct. 29, 2011, image made from a video provided by A Elvis Chapel shows David Allen Turpin, left, and his wife, Louise Anna Turpin, right, celebrate a renewal of their wedding vows with Elvis impersonator Kent Ripley in Las Vegas. The couple was arrested Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, after authorities...   (A Elvis Chapel via AP)

First came their daughter's escape from an alleged house of horrors. Now come the charges. David Turpin, 56, and Louise Turpin, 49, of Perris, Calif., were charged Thursday with multiple felony counts of torture, child abuse, abuse of dependent adults, and false imprisonment. David Turpin was hit with an additional count of a lewd act on a child under 14. The Los Angeles Times reports that a conviction could bring 94 years to life in prison. The update came via Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin during a Thursday press conference on the couple and their 13 children, who were found shackled and malnourished in the home Sunday. "This is severe, emotional, physical abuse. ... This is depraved conduct," Hestrin said. More on their state, the situation, and the charges:

  • CNN explains the couple will each face 12 counts of torture regarding the children's malnutrition, not 13, as the youngest child—age 2—appeared sufficiently fed, said Hestrin. The oldest of the Turpins' children is a 29-year-old female who weighs 82 pounds. He said some of the children suffered cognitive impairments from the lack of food. ABC News adds that the siblings were allegedly only able to bathe once a year. Hestrin said that if they washed their hands above the wrist it was considered playing, and they were chained.

  • Hestrin described escalating abuse that began years ago with the children being tied with ropes as a form of punishment. After one child allegedly freed him or herself from the ropes, the parents moved on to chains and padlocks, he said.
  • More, from ABC News: The parents' punishments could last weeks or months, said Hestrin, and the chains wouldn't be removed even to allow for a trip to the bathroom.
  • As for the escape, Hestrin said the 17-year-old who broke out—and, based on her size, was initially thought to be 10—had been plotting an escape for at least two years. Another sibling broke out with her, but ended up getting scared and heading back.

  • In advance of their court appearance, NBC News talked to a law enforcement source who provided another grim detail about what allegedly went on in the urine-filled home: The official says the siblings were given a single "rationed" meal a day.
  • Some neighbors have said they were unaware children even lived in the home, but others tell ABC News the only times they saw the siblings was when they departed and returned to the house in the family van, which always happened at night. Mike Clifford, a neighbor when they lived at their previous home in Murrieta, California, who works nights, said he would observe the children through the second-floor windows marching in a line, from room to room, for hours. That syncs with what Hestrin said: That the family was generally up all night and went to bed around 4am or 5am.
  • The children's paternal grandparents, who hail from West Virginia, say they last visited the siblings in California six years ago and saw nothing amiss. "They were just like any ordinary family," said Betty Turpin, who noted how they kids referred to each other as "sweetie." Adds husband James, per the AP, they "all looked to me well-adjusted. They weren't skinny or nothing. They were joyous to see us."
(More David Turpin stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.