By Amaan Afzal
Rabat – David and Louise Turpin, parents of 13 children were detained and are being held on a $9 million bail each, after several of their children were discovered shackled to their beds under lock and chain in dark and rancid conditions, in their Riverside County Home in California.
They were found after their 17-year-old daughter managed to escape her parents’ captivity and contact the police, who later reported that they initially perceived her as a ten-year-old, a symptom of the suffering she endured.
The thirteen children were between the ages of 2 and 29, however police reported that the captives were so emaciated due to malnourishment and dehydration that they did not realize that seven were adults.
The parents now face charges including ten counts of child endangerment and nine counts of torture for tormenting and starving their incarcerated sons and daughters. The Turpin children were eventually transported to two different hospitals for examinations and ensuing treatment.
The Riverside County and Perris Police Departments described the scene as “shocking”, a sentiment shared by the couples’ neighbours. One of whom, Andrea Valdez, said “And when I hear that I get teary eyed… it’s just so sad… A lot of people have kids just to treat them like that.”
This seems to be a precise representation of Louise Turpin who seemingly displayed no remorse when being questioned by law enforcement. One neighbour reported that the mother smirked while being interrogated on what was going on behind closed doors and even spat twice on the floor.
Many of the neighbours were stunned at the discovery, one was not even aware that there were kids in the California home, let alone 13 of them. However, others reported signs that they were indeed allowed to leave the house over the last few years, including released photos showing the family on multiple trips, including one to Disneyland.
Neighbour Julio Reyes claimed to have seen some of the teenage kids putting up decorations for Christmas: “Never really thought anything of any sort would happen like that.”
Conversely some of the Turpin’s neighbours recall a different view of the family. Robert Perkins stated that the family were constructing a nativity scene in their driveway a few years prior that he complimented: “They didn’t say a word.”
Kimberly Milligan claims to have seen the children “only a few times” in the two and a half years that she lived across from them. She went on to describe a peculiar run-in with their older children, saying that they were mentally, socially and emotionally “not in their 20’s” which suggests deep-rooted psychological abuse.
David and Louise Turpin were characterised as “deeply religious” by the husband’s parents (who claimed they were shocked by the news) and believed that God called on them to have so many children. The couple said they were educated through strict home-schooling which involved memorising lengthy passages from the bible. This method of education seems to have been passed on to David who was listed as the principal of Sandcastle Day School run in their house, with the 6 youngest children enrolled this year.
They faced financial difficulty, filing for bankruptcy twice, the first time coming in 2011 despite David’s six figure salary that year.
With regards to their marriage, from the outside they seemed like a happy couple, having renewed their vows three times, however, if this gruesome case has taught us anything, it is that things are not always as they seem from the outside.