STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

The Turpin children were chained to their beds and starved, officials say

Chained to their beds for weeks at a time. Showered once a year. Beaten and starved. Officials say life for the Turpi...

Posted: Jan 19, 2018 9:05 AM
Updated: Jan 19, 2018 9:05 AM

Chained to their beds for weeks at a time. Showered once a year. Beaten and starved. Officials say life for the Turpin family's 13 children was one of extreme horror and abuse.

"Sometimes in this business we're faced with looking at human depravity," Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said at a news conference on Thursday. "And that's what we're looking at."

Hestrin revealed the conditions that forced a 17-year-old girl to escape earlier this week through the window of her parents' Perris, California, home, seeking help for herself and her 12 siblings, ranging in age from 2 to 29. She had reportedly been working on her escape plan for more than two years.

David and Louise Turpin were charged with 12 counts of torture, seven counts of violation of a dependent adult, six counts of child abuse or neglect, and 12 counts of false imprisonment. They entered not guilty pleas on all counts.

Hestrin painted a bleak picture -- what he called "a snapshot" -- of the inside of the Turpin family home, previously described as "dark and foul-smelling."

These are the conditions authorities say they endured.

Punished with chains and padlocks

According to officials, the alleged abuse seems to have intensified over time, starting when the Turpins lived near Fort Worth, Texas.

The Turpin children were often tied up for "weeks or even months at a time," Hestrin told a roomful of reporters on Thursday.

The victims told investigators the practice started as punishment many years ago, Hestrin said. Initially, the children were tied up with ropes, but when one victim, who was hogtied, escaped, the Turpins turned to chains and padlocks, Hestrin said.

To the Turpins, it was "a form of punishment," Hestrin said in the news conference. The children were often left shackled to their beds for "weeks or even months at a time," he said.

"Circumstantial evidence in the house suggests that the victims were often not released from their chains to go to the bathroom," Hestrin added.

Police say several of the victims were still chained to the beds when police arrived at the Turpin residence on Sunday, though the parents tried to release them.

Denied showers and medical care

The Turpins allegedly denied their children what most people would view as basic human rights.

The victims were allowed to shower once a year, according to the district attorney. They were apparently allowed to wash their hands, but if they "were found to have washed their hands above the wrist area, they were accused of playing in the water," Hestrin said.

This was one of the offenses the Turpins allegedly deemed punishable, and the child would be chained to their bed.

The Turpins, Hestrin said, also fed their children "very little on a schedule." The parents would buy food for themselves, but their kids weren't allowed to eat it. Instead, Hestrin said, "they would buy food, including pies -- apple pies, pumpkin pies -- leave it on the counter, let the children look at it, but not eat the food."

According to the district attorney, only the youngest, a 2-year-old, was getting enough to eat. But the child's siblings, because of the abuse and neglect, are severely malnourished and have cognitive impairment as a result, Hestrin said.

As for health care, none of the children has seen a doctor in more than four years, Hestrin said, and none of them had ever seen a dentist. When questioned by police, the 17-year-old who escaped made it clear she didn't even know what "medication or pills" were.

Kept isolated and starved

If the children weren't chained, then they were locked inside different rooms within the house. There were no toys in those rooms, or stuffed animals, despite the fact that plenty of toys were found inside the house in their original packaging, according to Hestrin.

The only thing the children were allowed to do while inside their rooms was write in journals, hundreds of which have been recovered by authorities, Hestrin said. They will be looked through for evidence in the case against the Turpins.

Apparently nocturnal, the family wouldn't go to sleep until 4 or 5 a.m., Hestrin said, and they would sleep all day.

When asked if this was an attempt by the Turpins to conceal their actions, Hestrin said, "You know, crimes like these happen behind closed doors, in dark rooms, and so of course people who commit these types of crimes have to hide their crimes, and I think that was part of it."

As a result of their isolation, Hestrin said "the children lack a basic knowledge of life." When the police came to rescue them, he said, many of the victims didn't even know what a police officer was.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 448268

Reported Deaths: 6013
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin931011480
Ramsey40016739
Dakota33072340
Anoka30999364
Washington20164228
Stearns17871187
St. Louis13690241
Scott1195496
Wright11614104
Olmsted1048475
Sherburne821365
Carver694836
Clay653280
Rice606868
Kandiyohi554371
Blue Earth541033
Crow Wing482774
Otter Tail457167
Chisago452732
Benton420186
Winona389646
Douglas374166
Nobles370846
Mower365529
Goodhue347958
Polk328658
McLeod325345
Morrison311744
Beltrami310347
Lyon302236
Becker284939
Itasca284543
Isanti282841
Carlton280043
Steele27379
Pine266713
Freeborn245321
Todd231730
Nicollet224636
Brown215134
Mille Lacs214246
Le Sueur210015
Cass207623
Meeker199733
Waseca189316
Wabasha17083
Martin170026
Roseau165416
Hubbard149338
Redwood139727
Renville137539
Houston135913
Dodge13474
Chippewa131332
Cottonwood127218
Fillmore12355
Wadena120116
Rock110212
Sibley10857
Aitkin108433
Watonwan10668
Faribault105916
Pennington99215
Kanabec97818
Pipestone94423
Yellow Medicine93714
Murray8815
Jackson85610
Swift83418
Pope7385
Marshall70215
Stevens7018
Clearwater68514
Lac qui Parle65716
Lake63715
Wilkin6259
Koochiching59610
Lincoln4841
Big Stone4573
Unassigned43768
Grant4298
Norman4248
Mahnomen4107
Kittson37219
Red Lake3174
Traverse2503
Lake of the Woods1951
Cook1140

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 305606

Reported Deaths: 4278
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk45754449
Linn17795275
Scott15444163
Black Hawk13773236
Woodbury13016175
Johnson1211749
Dubuque11387150
Pottawattamie8992112
Dallas888671
Story869434
Webster469771
Cerro Gordo466768
Sioux455157
Clinton450361
Warren443938
Marshall427761
Buena Vista393429
Muscatine390477
Des Moines381841
Plymouth350368
Wapello344198
Jasper321959
Lee317130
Marion304952
Jones271349
Henry264330
Carroll255434
Bremer245048
Crawford231022
Boone218417
Washington217632
Benton209444
Mahaska193136
Jackson192031
Tama187757
Dickinson186026
Delaware173736
Kossuth173644
Clay168820
Wright164824
Fayette162322
Hamilton160029
Buchanan159923
Winneshiek155719
Harrison155162
Hardin154729
Cedar153219
Clayton151448
Butler148224
Page144715
Floyd139636
Cherokee139027
Mills136416
Lyon135332
Poweshiek132724
Hancock130224
Allamakee127928
Iowa125422
Calhoun12279
Grundy121226
Jefferson120724
Madison12039
Winnebago119429
Mitchell116234
Louisa115030
Cass113341
Chickasaw111612
Sac111215
Emmet110831
Appanoose110538
Union108822
Humboldt105519
Guthrie103024
Shelby102926
Franklin102418
Unassigned9310
Palo Alto9079
Montgomery85622
Keokuk85026
Howard84219
Monroe81218
Clarke7957
Pocahontas77611
Ida74630
Greene6927
Davis69121
Adair68820
Lucas6508
Monona64016
Osceola6409
Worth6113
Taylor5949
Fremont5126
Van Buren49712
Decatur4894
Ringgold4389
Audubon4158
Wayne41421
Adams2963
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: -1°
Feels Like: 28°
Mason City
Clear
38° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 1°
Feels Like: 28°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 0°
Feels Like: 28°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: -1°
Feels Like: 29°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 1°
Feels Like: 27°
A roller coaster of temperatures
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Kamala Harris Inspiration

Image

Local Lawmakers on Inauguration

Image

Watching The Inauguration Virtually

Image

INAUGURATION DAY BRI

Image

Local Law Enforcement On High Alert

Image

Aaron's Wednesday Evening Forecast

Image

Driving in the snow can be good for teen drivers

Image

How the Pandemic is impacting the way 911 dispatchers take calls

Image

History of Inauguration Day

Image

Stewartville defeats Goodhue in HVL play

Community Events