People who lived near the Turpin family or attended school with the any of the 13 siblings allegedly starved, abused and tortured by their parents while living in constant filth are recalling horrific tales of the family and looking back with regret and guilt that they didn’t act on the many red flags.
As each day brings new horrific details of the nightmarish stories about how David and Louise allegedly treated their children, now ages 2 to 29, those who had contact with them are coming forward, saying they sensed something was wrong, but that they never made the call that could have ended it all.
The so-called torture house was finally put out of existence last week when one of the daughters managed to escape and call police. David and Louise were arrested and charged on 40 counts each — they have pleaded not guilty — while the siblings were found so dirty and malnourished that prosecutors say they exhibit signs of cognitive impairment and nerve damage.
From Texas to California, neighbors, classmates and family members are telling gut-wrenching stories about this strange family that mostly kept to themselves, and the children rarely came outside.
In Rio Vista, Texas, a rural town near Fort Worth, a neighbor told the Desert Sun that one Christmas eight new bicycles sat outside in the yard, never touched and the price tags never removed.
The neighbor, Ricky Vinyard, said the family suddenly picked up and moved in the middle of the night. They moved to a middle-class neighborhood in Perris, California, outside of Los Angeles. Curious about what went on at the Turpin’s trash-filled double-wide trailer, Vinyard said he investigated and found a sickening scene that included dead dogs and cats.
“It was waist-deep in filth,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “There were dead dogs and cats in there.” He also said he found two Chihuahuas eating waste from a mound of dirty diapers, and that there were locks on the closets, beds, doors and refrigerator.”
A year after they moved from Texas, the property was purchased by a man who painted a picture of squalor, telling ABC News that the bathroom floor was rotted out. He said he found photographs that showed a rope tied to the end of a bed rail.
Flecks of feces, he said, filled the living room, which appeared to serve as a makeshift classroom for the children who were homeschooled for decades. There were eight small desks, a chalkboard, and posters on the wall.
The children who did spend some time at public school were bullied because they were dirty and smelly. Taha Muntajibuddin attended kindergarten through third grade with one of the girls said he feels “an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame.”
Another former classmate told the Associated Press that the girl always wore the same stained jeans that were too small and looked like “someone kind of slung her around like a rag doll.”