The aunt of the 13 children held hostage in their parents California home for nearly two decades is coming forward with information about David and Louise Turpin.
Elizabeth Flores admits she has not had a close relationship with her sister for 20 years, but now, she hopes she can offer supportive words to her nieces and nephews. “I want to reach out to the kids, I want them to know that for years we begged to Skype them, we begged to see them… I want them to know they do have family that they love whether they know us or not,” Flores said during an interview with Good Morning America.
Read on to learn more about Elizabeth Flores.
*Note: this post will be updated with more information as it becomes available.
1. She Lived with David & Louise Briefly During College
David and Louise’s home supposedly doubled as a homeschool called the Sandcastle Day School, but it was never inspected by education officials, according to The Guardian. Furthermore, County District Attorney Mike Hestrin says that the children lack basic knowledge about life– one child did not know what a police officer was and another did not know what pills or medication were.
The 13 siblings found inside the Turpin home range from ages 2 to 29. It is believed, according to Hestrin, that the abuse started as neglect while the family lived in Texas, and grew worse after moving to California. The extent of the physical abuse includes chokings, beatings, and being tied up for long periods, CNN reports Hestrin as saying. “Punishment would last weeks or even months at a time.” As for food, the children were malnourished (all except for the 2-year-old who appeared to have been receiving enough food) and several of the children, in the words of Hestrin, have cognitive impairment and and “neuropathy, which is nerve damage, as a result of this extreme and prolonged physical abuse.”
Speaking on GMA, Flores shared that she lived with Louise and David briefly in Texas while she was a college student. Flores admits she was a bit creeped out by David.
On Wednesday, Louise’s other sister, Teresa Robinette, was interviewed on The Today Show, where she struggled to say through tears, “We are as hurt and shocked and… angry and disappointed as everybody else.”
Hundreds of journals have been found in the home where the thirteen children were held captive. Riverside law enforcement officials are now scouring through the notebooks, according to USA Today. District Attorney Mike Hestrin says the content of the journals could provide “strong evidence of what occurred in that home.”
2. Flores Said David Would Watch Her in the Shower
In her interview with Good Morning America, Flores said, “If I went to get in the shower, [David] would come in there while I was in there and watch me… It was like a joke. He never touched me or anything.”
Why not share this with the authorities? Flores says she was “young and scared”. She continues, “I was treated like one of the kids kind of, so I had rules… Now that I’m an adult and I look back, I see things that I didn’t see then.”
Speaking to ABC News, David Turpin’s parents, who live in West Virginia, say, “David and Louise Turpin are considered a good Christian family in their community.” The outlet says that the grandparents aren’t able to understand “any of this”.
3. She Did Not Witness Any Abuse but Said She Thought the Parents Were “Really Strict”
Flores, herself, did not witness any abuse firsthand. She tells ABC, however, that she thinks the Turpins were “really strict” with their children.
Flores reveals that eventually, she was forbidden from contacting the family. “The whole family– I’ve asked for 20 years to be able to Skype them…”
4. Her Sister Had Cut Her off from Seeing the Children
Flores says her sister had cut her off from seeing her nieces and nephews. Breaking down in tears, she said that she never thought to go to police to have them check in on her nieces and nephews because her sister and brother-in-law were notoriously “private” people.
“If it had been like two years ago that she cut us off than we might think, ‘Wow, you know, something’s not right,’” The Huffington Post reports her as saying. ”But this has been going on before they even had children.”
Asked on GMA what she wants to say to her sister, Flores says, “I want her to know that she’s still my blood and I love her. I don’t agree with what she did and her actions have made the whole family suffer, but I want her to know I am praying for her salvation and that we do love her.”
5. Flores Has Seven Children and Her Sister Teresa Reportedly Has Six
Having many children must run in the family: Elizabeth Flores has seven children while her sister Teresa reportedly has six, according to Inside Edition.
The motives behind David and Louise Turpin’s decision to lock their children up and starve them remain unclear to authorities. Captain Greg Fellows of the sheriff’s department said on Tuesday, “I wish I could come to you today with information that would explain why this happened. But we do need to acknowledge the courage of the young girl who escaped from that residence to bring attention so they could get the help they so needed.”
Fellows added on that Louise Turpin appeared confused when authorities showed up at her home. He tells The Guardian, “If you can imagine being 17 years old and appearing to be a 10-year-old, being chained to a bed, being malnourished, and injuries associated with that. I would call that torture.”