california couple who held 13 children captive
Last Updated : GMT 05:17:37
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Last Updated : GMT 05:17:37
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due in court

California couple who held 13 children captive

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The Turpins were hit with dozens of charges for torturing the children
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They starved, shackled, beat and even hogtied their 13 captive children — and now it’s their turn to rot in prison, prosecutors said Thursday.

David Turpin, 57, and Louise Turpin, 49, were formally charged with 12 counts of torture, seven counts of abuse of dependent adults, six counts of child abuse and 12 counts of false imprisonment, Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin said.

David was also charged with one count of a lewd act on a child 14 or younger.

“We are alleging David Turpin touched one of the victims in a lewd way by using force or fear,” Hestrin said.If convicted as charged, the parents each face 94 years to life in prison.

“They have been severely hurt and damaged,” Hestrin said of the 13 siblings rescued Sunday from their house in Perris, 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles. “The abuse was horrific and over time.”

Hestrin revealed that the 17-year-old daughter who jumped from a window early Sunday and called 911 on a deactivated cell phone had plotted her escape with her siblings for more than two years.Another sibling joined her on the daring dash but turned back out of fear.When police knocked on the door of house of horrors later Sunday, the Turpins rushed to unchain an 11-year-old and a 14-year-old, he said. A 22-year-old remained chained to a bed when police entered the home.

Hestrin said the house was the site of “frequent” beatings for minor infractions and that the children were tied up for punishments at first, then later chained.

They were allowed only one shower a year, and if they washed their hands above the wrist area, they were accused of “playing in the water” and punished, Hestrin said.

Hestrin said evidence in the house showed that when the children were chained as punishment, they were not released to use the bathroom.The parents also taunted them with toys left in their wrappings and delicious food that was just out of reach.“They would buy food including pies — apples pies, pumpkin pies — leave it on the counter, let the children look at it, but not eat it,” he said.

He said the kids suffered in the shadows, “supposedly home-schooled,” and filled “hundreds” of journals that were recovered at the scene.

“All 13 of the victims, including the defendants, typically go to sleep around 4 or 5 in the morning, sleep all day and (are) up all through the night,” he said.One of the adult children at one point was allowed to attend classes outside the home, but the mom, Louise, waited outside the class to take him home, Hestrin said.

When police first made contact with the siblings, they all appeared to be minors, officials said. It turned out seven were actually adults ranging in age from 18 to 29.

“One of the children at age 12 is the weight of an average 7-year-old. The 29-year-old, the female victim, weighs 82 pounds,” Hestrin said.He said several of the victims have cognitive impairment and neuropathy, a kind of nerve damage, as a result of the “extreme and prolonged” abuse.The children hadn’t seen a doctor in four years and never saw a dentist, he said.

David and Louise Turpin appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to all the charges Thursday afternoon.

They were the ones shackled this time, with David slumping in his chair, his long gray hair matted and unwashed.

They spoke only to say they understood their preliminary hearings would not happen until after a Feb. 23 court date. “This is a very serious case of course. He could spend the rest of his life in prison," David's public defender David Macher told the Daily News after the hearing.“It doesn't get much more serious in terms of the severity of the conduct being alleged,” Louise’s lawyer Jeff Moore, who was appointed by the judge, said.

Judge Michael Donner set bail at $12 million each, instead of the $13 million originally requested by prosecutors.

Hestrin said earlier in the day his office filed only 12 torture charges in the end because the couple's 2-year-old child "apparently was getting enough to eat." 

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