Calif. parents of 13 children held captive charged with torture

By Daniel Uria  |  Jan. 18, 2018 at 6:04 PM
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Jan. 18 (UPI) -- A California couple accused of abusing and starving their 13 adult and juvenile children face up to 94 years in prison a district attorney said Thursday.

David Allen Turpin, 56, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were charged with 12 counts of torture, seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult, six counts of child abuse and 12 counts of false imprisonment Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said.

David Turpin also was charged with one count of a lewd act on a child by force, fear or duress.

The charges stem from 2010 to the present and all are alleged to have occurred in Murrieta and Perris in Riverside County.

If convicted on all charges, the couple face up to 94 years to life in prison each.

"As a prosecutor, there are some cases that haunt you," Hestrin said. "Some deal with human depravity, and that's what we're dealing with here."

Perris Police Department and Riverside County Sheriff's Department officials searched the home and found "several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings, but the parents were unable to immediately provide a logical reason why their children were restrained in that manner," after a 17-year-old girl escaped from the house and contacted authorities.

Seven of the children are adults ranging in age from 18 to 29 and all 13 "appeared to be malnourished and very dirty," police said.

Hestrin said the children were severely malnourished, resulting in cognitive impairment and a lack of basic knowledge. The children were allegedly homeschooled, but many didn't know what a police officer was, or what medications or pills were.

He added the entire family slept all day, only waking at night.

"All 13 of the victims, including the defendants, typically go to sleep around 4 or 5 in the morning, sleep all day and be up all through the night," Hestrin said.

The abuse began in in Fort Worth, Texas, where they lived for 17 years before moving to California, and intensified over time.

The children were permitted to keep journals, which Hestrin believes will provide insight into the abuse.

"I think those journals are going to be strong evidence of what occurred in that home," he said.

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