David and Louise Turpin's story is well known, for all the wrong reasons. They're the parents of the 13 kids who were rescued from a "house of horrors" in Perris, Calif., in January 2018; the two are now serving life with the possibility of parole on torture and abuse convictions. In an excerpt from the new book The Family Next Door published by the New York Post, John Glatt explores some familiar territory—that the kids' growth was stunted and that they were only permitted to shower once a year was widely reported—but he zeroes in on lesser known details, many provided by Louise's siblings. Teresa Robinette paints the couple as being lavish with their money, paying for extravagant meals whenever the family got together but ultimately maxing out credit cards and filing chapter 7 bankruptcy—more than once.
In 1996, her sister Elizabeth spent the summer with the Turpins in Fort Worth. She describes the family pulling off the interstate in Louisiana so David and Louise could gamble. David was gone for hours and returned to say that Louise wouldn't stop and that their losses were mounting. It was several more hours before they returned to the car. In the home, Elizabeth saw the extreme rules they had with the kids, who had to ask if they could eat or use the bathroom. Things grew much more extreme over time: In the mid-2000s, the couple took their two youngest to an apartment 40 miles away from their trailer, leaving the teens in charge of the other kids for four years, during which Louise never visited; David would stop by to drop off frozen food. The family moved to Perris in 2010. (Read the full excerpt here, which details a missed opportunity for the kids to have been saved from that trailer.)