Parents of 13 malnourished children charged; bail set at $13 million

Gladys Abbott
January 21, 2018

Numerous children did not know what a police officer was, for example, and the 17-year-old who called to report the abuse did not know what pills or medications were upon police questioning.

The teenager who escaped and alerted police to the house where her siblings were held captive had been hatching a plan to leave for two years, Mr Hestrin added. They're facing dozens of charges, including torture and child abuse, and face 94 years to life in prison if convicted of all the charges.

The couple appeared in court hours after prosecutors detailed the horrific abuse allegations against them.

Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said: "The victimisation appeared to intensify over time".

District Attorney Mike Hestrin said the victims were severely malnourished, have cognitive impairment and lack basic knowledge of life.

When sheriff's deputies arrived Sunday at the four-bedroom, three-bathroom house on a dead-end street in Perris, they were appalled.

The Turpins are alleged to have starved their children to such an extent their oldest child, a 29-year-old woman, weighed only 82lbs (five stones) when she was rescued from the home.

The Turpins made their first court appearance Thursday, pleading not guilty to multiple counts of torture, child abuse, dependent adult abuse and false imprisonment. Hestrin said that David Turpin also was charged with a lewd act on a child by force or fear of duress. Their bail is set at $12 million each. When authorities asked the 17-year-old whether there were any pills or medication inside the house, she didn't know what those were. Flores says she is shocked by her sister's arrest.

She told cops she was terrified her parents would killer her if she was caught.

Of the 13 siblings, the adults are being treated at Corona Regional Medical Center in Corona, and the six children are under care at Riverside University Health System Medical Center in Moreno Valley.

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Austria has seen two high profile kidnaps - Elisabeth Fritzl was imprisoned and raped over a period of 24 years by her father Josef while Natascha Kampusch was held for eight years by Wolfgang Priklopil before her 2006 escape. All the children's names begin with the letter J, according to court documents that didn't provide their full names.

"They were just like any ordinary family", said Betty Turpin, the 81-year-old mother of David Turpin. Louise Turpin identified herself as a housewife in a 2011 bankruptcy filing.

Photos from the Texas home where David and Louise Turpin lived with their now-adult children almost two decades ago show a filthy, decrepit interior that most likely had human feces on the walls, the current owner told ABC News.

The abuse began when the family lived in Fort Worth, Hestrin said. When one child was able to wriggle free, the couple began restraining them with chains and padlocks - for up to months at a time, Hestrin said.

David Allen Turpin, accused of holding their 13 children captive, appears in court for arraignment on January 18, 2018 in Riverside, California. Instead, all the children were allowed to do was to write.

"An 11- and 14-year-old were unchained as the police stood at the door while a 22-year-old remained chained to a bed when the police entered the home", Hestrin said. "It breaks our hearts".

"What we would like the public to know is that our clients are presumed to be innocent, and that's a very important presumption", David Macher, an attorney for David Turpin, told reporters after the hearing. No state agency regulates or oversees private schools in California, and they are not licensed by the state Education Department.

In addition to raising them largely in isolation, the parents may have been able to hide the abuse by functioning while other families slept. This included pies left on the counter, Hestrin said.

In the meantime, they're tapping into another resource - the siblings' journals, hundreds of which were recovered by investigators.

The parents had toys wrapped in the house that they didn't give to the kids.

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