David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, are accused of shackling and torturing their 13 children for years. The couple reportedly kept their 13 children, ages 2 to 29, in subhuman conditions.
Initial reports stated that one of the children, a 17-year-old girl, was able to break out of the home and alert police about the conditions, who then found the rest of the children after arriving at the home.
The couple made their first court appearance last Thursday and face 94 years to life in prison if convicted of all charges.
Here are five things to know about the disturbing case:
1. The Turpins are accused of committing a long list of terrible crimes against their children
USA Today compiled a list of offenses reportedly committed against the children.
The abuse included:
-Tying the children with rope, chains, and padlocks
-Limiting showers to once a year
-Buying toys and leaving them in the packaging
-Denying doctor and dentist visits
-Forcing them to stay up at night and sleep during the day
-Providing a poor education
Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin that the “extreme and prolonged physical abuse” would “last for weeks, even months, at a time.”
David is also suspected of committing a lewd act on at least one of the children.
The children reportedly kept journals to cope with their captivity, which are now being reviewed by law enforcement officials.
2. The oldest child weighed no more than a child
The Sun reports that the oldest of the Turpin’s 13 children was of concerning weight when found.
The Center for Disease Control currently lists the average body weight of an adult woman ages 20 and older as 168.5 pounds. The same report listed the average body weight of an adult man as 195.7 pounds.
The unidentified 29-year-old daughter was reportedly only 82 pounds when found. This weight, according to an article featured in LIVESTRONG, is comparable to a young girl or boy aged 11 or 12.
While there is still much information to gather from this case, it could be observed that the cruel eating habits forced onto the children by their parents are a contributing factor.
3. Louise’s childhood home was filled with physical and sexual abuse
Two of Louise’s sisters have shed light on the horrors that filled their childhood.
Sister Teresa Robinette told Megyn Kelly of “TODAY” that she was sexually abused by a male relative. That relative was a “very, very close family member […] we should have loved and trusted.”
“He abused my mother and sexually abused my mother, and then me and Louise, Elizabeth and a few our cousins in the family. That was a situation that was ongoing for me and my sisters,” she said. “My mother still took us around this person a lot — including Louise.”
Louise’s other sister, Elizabeth Flores, also detailed her abuse in a series of self-help books that she co-authored.
“Many things I have gone through as a child have caused deep suffering … Being molested, watching my mom being beaten and raped and being abused myself as a child combined to cause the fear of people, especially men,” she wrote.
She too had tales of sexual abuse from the trusted family member, writing, “I think I was around 9 years old when a family member that I loved so much and I was supposed to be able to trust molested me.”
4. David and Louise marriage including a kidnapping and dreams of a reality television series
Louise’s half-brother, Billy Lambert, accused the couple of only thinking of themselves throughout their marriage.
Lambert revealed that Louise wanted to be the star of a reality television series.
“Only last month, Louise told me her and David were planning to have another child,” he said. “She used to say how they would be perfect for TV and would often mention they would be bigger than the reality show ‘Kate Plus 8.'”
Lambert suggested that they moved the family to California in order to be closer to Hollywood.
“They didn’t care about the kids — it was all about them,” he added.
The New York Post also shared a disturbing account of the origins of the couple’s marriage, which took a heavy toll on another marriage.
In 1984, Louise’s mother allowed her to date David without the knowledge of her father, a preacher at the time. He was not made aware of the relationship until Princeton Senior High School in West Virginia allowed a 24-year-old David to sign a 16-year-old Louise out of her 10th-grade classroom, taking her cross country so that they could elope, according to the Post.
The pair was caught in Texas, and Louise’s father allowed her to marry David when they returned.
A rift between Louise’s parents over their respective actions led to a split two years after the events.
5. There is hope for the future of the children
There is no doubt that the weight of the events will be heavy on the children.
According to a previous report, it is likely that they will suffer severe psychological effects. Dr. Frank Ochberg, a psychiatrist and pioneer in trauma science, said that these could include complex post-traumatic stress disorder, among other things.
Ochberg was a key witness for the prosecution in the trial of Ariel Castro, another nationalized case. In 2013, Castro was sentenced to prison for life without the possibility of parole as well as another 1,000 years when he was convicted of the kidnapping, rape, and assault of three women over the years.
“We can assume that there could be depression and nightmares,” Ochberg said.
Despite this, the children have a chance, especially now that they are separated from their parents.
“While there can be a number of complicated and interrelated medical, social and psychological disorders, there have been amazing and heartwarming examples of people who are survivors,” he continued. “We don’t want to overemphasize hopelessness when everyone who cares about people like this are trying to find reasons to hopeful and optimistic.”
As for their weight and nutrition, Dr. Roshini Raj, an associate professor of medicine at New York University, said it would be a long time before they reach healthy numbers.
“But it can be done,” she said.
Officials hope to keep the children together and place them in a foster home. Unfortunately, Amy Heilman, director of foster care and adoption at a Los Angeles-based non-profit called the Children’s Bureau, indicated that the sheer amount of children made it unlikely that they would stay together.
It was initially believed that David’s elderly parents wished to be a part of the placement process.
As for the rest of the family, aunts Teresa and Elizabeth hope to reach out to their nieces and nephews. David and Louise reportedly thwarted previous communication attempts from their families.