The 13 children of David and Louise Turpin were rescued by police after one child — a 17-year-old female — was able to escape out a window and use a deactivated cell phone to call 911. She had been working on this plan for two years, Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin said in a press conference on Thursday, January 18.
The children, who ranged in age from two to 29, had been living in their parents home in Perris, California, but authorities say there was evidence that the Turpin siblings had been shackled to furniture and living in filthy conditions.
None of the children’s names have been released, and officials say that they aren’t well enough to provide statements on the case.
Here is what you need to know:
1. All 13 Children Were Taken to Nearby Hospitals & Staff Members Were ‘Reduced to Tears’ Upon Seeing Them
Upon being found by law enforcement, the children were taken to nearby hospitals for physicals and evaluations.
Seven of the 13 Turpin siblings, five girls and two boys aged 18 to 29, were taken to the Corona Regional Medical Center. Upon arrival, the medical staff believed that they were tending to children, rather than adults, because they all had severe developmental issues.
“It’s that profound when you see what they’re going through. How does this happen?” the hospital’s CEO and Chief Managing Director Mark Uffer told ABC News. “When we first saw them, everybody thought they were children,” Uffer said, adding that he and his staff had never seen abuse of “this magnitude.”
The children were visibly malnourished, each with pale skin and muscle atrophy, which has seriously impacted their cognitive and physical developmental.
“This doesn’t happen over three months or six months. When you see malnutrition in people, it’s years,” Uffer explained. Several of the victims have also suffered nerve damage.
According to the report, these seven children are currently listen in stable condition but have not been cleared to leave the hospital.
“They are being kept together in the same unit in an attempt to recreate a family environment as they undergo physical, psychiatric, cognitive and medical evaluations by a team of doctors in the coming days,” ABC News reports.
The hope is to get all of the siblings to a place where they can go on to live healthy lives. The hospital is currently working with adult protective services, but are in “no rush to push them out the door,” Uffer said.
2. Law Enforcement Officials Told NBC That the Turpin Children Were Only Allowed 1 Meal per Day & 2 Showers per Year
Living conditions at the Turpin home were unacceptable, according to the information that law enforcement provided. The 13 children were found amongst their own urine and feces, their residence termed a “house of horrors” by the media.
Three of the children were shackled when police arrived at the home on Tuesday, January 12. Authorities said that two of the children were unchained by their parents before police entered the home, but a 22-year-old was still chained to a bed.
Authorities investigating the case revealed that this began as some kind of punishment and that David and Louise Turpin would use ropes to tie up their children. After one of the children escaped, they began using “chains and padlocks.”
“These punishments would last for weeks, or even months at a time,” Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin explained. He added that the punishments often “included frequent beatings and even strangulation.”
The children were not permitted to play with toys, Hestrin said. They were locked in different rooms, and not always allowed to go to the bathroom.
3. The Oldest Turpin Sibling Has Posed the Most Concerns
The oldest Turpin child, a 29-year-old woman, is the most concerning to doctors. Because of a lack in development, the woman, whose name has not been released, looked like she was only 13 or 14 years old.
Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin said that she weighs just 82 pounds.
“It is hard to think of some of these people as adults as they are so malnourished. They are stable and being fed. They are comfortable and in a safe and secure environment. They have gone through a very traumatic ordeal. They are very friendly and cooperative and hopeful life will get better for them after this event,” Captain Gregg Fellows told the media during a press conference.
4. They Previously Lived in Murrieta, California, & in Texas, & Were Home-Schooled
The Turpin family previously lived in Texas before moving to California. There they owned a farm in Rio Vista, just south of Fort Worth, which public records show was foreclosed on.
“I ended up calling the police because of the trash and everything that was left there. There was a brand new pickup truck covered in [trash] — a whole truck bed full and overflowing to the ground with trash: diapers, Spam cans, potted meat cans, just overflowing,” the family’s Texas neighbor, Randy McClain, told the New York Post.
In 2013, the Turpins moved to Murrieta, California, before relocating to Perris the following year. They have lived in the four-bedroom home since 2014.
Their neighbors, past and present, have spoken to the media about their experiences with the family.
“I thought they were like a cult. They would march back and forth on the second story at night. The light would be on the whole the time, and they would be marching the kids back and forth,” a man named Mike, who lived across the street from the family in Murrieta, California, told the New York Post. “My wife called them clones. They spoke robotically, in a monotone and at the same time,” he added.
A neighbor by the name of Andria Valdez described the Turpins as the “Vampire family” because they were “really, really pale” and “only came out at night,” according to the Mirror.
Despite the oddities seen by various neighbors, no one called the police on the Turpins.
“Not one person called us. How sad,” Mary Parks, senior public information specialist for the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services, told the Desert Sun.
All 13 children were home-schooled.
5. David & Louise Turpin Could Both Face Life in Prison
David and Louise Turpin have both been charged with torture and child endangerment. They each face nine felony counts of torture and 10 felony counts of child endangerment. They are being held at the Robert Presley Detention Center on $13 million bail.
“Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin announced Thursday that Louise Anna Turpin, 49, and David Allen Turpin, 57, have been hit with an array of charges, including counts of torture, child abuse, false imprisonment and a lewd act on a child by force, fear or duress. He said if convicted on all charges, they each face sentences of 94 years to life in prison,” Fox New reports.
Family members have all expressed shock over this case.
“They were just like any ordinary family. And they had such good relationships. I’m not just saying this stuff. These kids, we were amazed. They were ‘sweetie’ this and ‘sweetie’ that to each other. It’s hard to believe all of this. Over the years, the Lord knows what happened,” David Turpin’s 81-year-old mother, Betty, told CNN.