- Thomson Reuters
- More disturbing details are emerging about David and Louise Turpin, the California couple arrested on Sunday for torture and child endangerment.
- The Turpins reportedly only fed their 13 children once a day and allowed them to shower twice a year.
- Police found the children chained to furniture and severely malnourished.
Horrifying details about a California family continued to emerge on Thursday, five days after parents David and Louise Turpin were arrested on charges of torture and child endangerment.
On Sunday, their 17-year-old daughter escaped from their home in Perris, California, and notified authorities that she and her 12 siblings were being held captive.
Police arrived to find some of the children shackled to beds and furniture with chains and padlocks. The children were so malnourished they look several years younger than their actual ages.
A law-enforcement officer with knowledge of the situation told NBC News on Thursday that the Turpins allowed their children to shower just twice a year, and fed them just one rationed meal a day. Rooms in the house were said to be “urine-filled.”
“They’re not being fed and they’re living in these filthy, dirty conditions. That’s going to take its toll,” Captain Greg Fellows of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said at a press conference on Tuesday.
The children, who range in age from 2 to 29, were sent to local hospitals and are being treated with antibiotics, vitamins, and nutrients through an IV, according to NBC News. They aren’t physically well enough to provide statements about their ordeal, and authorities are concerned the children are so malnourished they could go into shock.
Fellows said that the 17-year-old who tipped off authorities had escaped through a window and called police with a deactivated cell phone. Federal law requires all cell phones be able to contact emergency services.
“We do need to acknowledge the courage of the young girl who escaped from that residence to bring attention so they could get the help that they so needed,” Fellows said.
According to NBC News, police determined the girl had “a mental capacity of someone well below her age.”
- Mike Blake/Reuters
The Turpins had lived in the house since 2010. They previously lived in Rio Vista, Texas, from 1999 to 2010.
Neighbors of the family said the Turpins rarely left their house, and had sparse interactions with the parents. On Thursday, the UK’s Daily Mirror reported that the couple said goodbye to a neighbor on Saturday, a day before their arrest.
“They said they needed to say goodbye because they were getting ready to leave town,” the neighbor told The Mirror. “They didn’t say where or when they were going.”
Authorities said the parents were “unable to immediately provide a logical reason” why they kept their children captive in an interview with police. After the interview, they were arrested, with bail set at $9 million each.