The California home where David and Louise Turpin allegedly held their 13 children captive, which some have dubbed “The House of Horrors,” was filled for years with the parents’ cruel torture and taunts.
The Turpins allegedly shackled their children to furniture with chains so they couldn’t escape, slowly starved them to death, and only allowed them to shower twice a year, as previously reported by Dearly.
The children — aged 2 to 29 years old — suffered for years until their 17-year-old sibling bravely escaped from the home last Monday and made contact with police, who subsequently rescued them.
Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin spoke to NBC News, and he painted a horrifying picture of the children’s living conditions, which included being beaten, choked, and locked away in dark, filthy rooms for months at a time.
In one example, the parents “punished” the children by denying them access to the bathroom for “playing with water” when they washed their hands, which left them surrounded by carpet soaked with urine.
The mother and father also allegedly enjoyed taunting the malnourished kids with food. The parents would buy apple and pumpkin pies, then keep the food where they could see it but refuse to let them eat any.
Their cruelty was magnified when it came to toys, which they bought their kids but refused to open the packages to let them play with them. According to ABC News, Hestrin said:
“The only thing the children were allowed to do in their room or chained up was to write in journals, we now have recovered those journals — hundreds of them. And we are combing through them.”
The district attorney added the children’s healthcare was neglected during their captivity— the kids rarely saw a doctor and had never been to a dentist. He also described their unusual sleeping pattern, typically going to bed between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m.
“These individuals sleep all day and are up all night,” Hestrin said.
Previous reporting by Dearly based on numerous sources stated the children were allowed to bathe twice a year; But Hestrin told ABC News it was just once a year.
ABC News reports the children were extremely developmentally behind. Hestrin explained that, though they were:
“[s]upposedly homeschooled, the children lacked even basic knowledge of life. Many of the children didn’t know what a police officer was. When a 17-year-old was “asked if there was medication or pills in the home, [the teen] didn’t know what medication or pills were.”
Rescuers found most of the children were emaciated, including the couple’s 29-year-old daughter, who weighed only 82 pounds — the average weight of an 11-year-old girl. They’re now recuperating at several L.A. area hospitals.
But, one child looked different from the others, Hestrin told KTLA.
David and Louise’s 2-year-old daughter didn’t appear to be abused or neglected by her parents. The D.A. said the toddler was the only child “who was getting enough to eat.”
The youngest child was so well taken care of that torture charges weren’t included in the parents’ charges for her, KTLA reports.
According to NBC News, the 17-year-old who broke free and called authorities on a cell phone she found in the home spent two years planning her escape. Hestrin said:
“In more than 20 years as a prosecutor in Riverside County, this is one of the most disturbing cases I’ve seen. We are fully prepared to seek justice in this case and to do so in a way that protects all of these victims from further harm.”
The torture allegedly began while the Turpins lived near Fort Worth, Texas, for 17 years and grew worse when David and Louise moved the family to California in 2010.
The Turpins have been charged with 12 counts of torture, seven counts of abuse on a dependent adult, 12 counts of false imprisonment, and six counts of child abuse.
David received an extra charge of committing a lewd act on a child by force; the alleged victim is one of Turpin’s daughters, according to NBC News.
Both parents entered not guilty pleas to the charges, which could keep them behind bars for 94 years to life if found guilty. The Turpins remain behind bars on bail of $12 million each.
NBC News reports the father’s attorney, David Macher, said:
“What we would like the public to know is that our clients are presumed to be innocent, and that’s a very important presumption. Second, we’re going to provide a vigorous defense on behalf of Mr. Turpin.”
The Turpins’s next court date will take place on February 23.
See more about the horrifying details in the story below: