Shithole Home? Police find 13 children who were abused, imprisoned and starved by their parents

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Police said on Tuesday they were still seeking answers after finding 13 siblings starving in their parents’ squalid Southern California home, some of them chained to beds under “horrific” conditions in an otherwise ordinary suburb.
The grim situation was discovered on Sunday after an emaciated 17-year-old girl escaped through a window of the home in a newer subdivision of Perris, about 70 miles (113 km) east of Los Angeles, and called 911, police said.
“I wish I could come to you today with information that would explain why this happened,” said Captain Greg Fellows of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. “But 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 they so needed.”
The parents, 57-year-old David Allen Turpin and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were arrested at their darkened, foul-smelling house after the girl’s 12 siblings were found there.

David and Louise Turpin with their children
The couple and their children

The shocking case quickly prompted questions of how the victims, who ranged in age from 2 to 29 years old, could have been kept in such grim conditions without raising suspicions of neighbors or authorities.
But some experts said it may have been easier for the parents to shield their children from scrutiny because they were home-schooled.
“One of the things that were interesting was, he (Turpin) set up his own homeschool so the kids were accounted for and not really seen by anybody,” said Sherryll Kraizer, a child-abuse prevention expert and the founder of the Coalition for Children.
The California Department of Education lists the Turpin address, where the family has lived since 2014, as the location of the Sandcastle Day School, with David Turpin as principal.
Six of the couple’s children are minors, while the rest are over 18, according to neighbors, meaning they are adults under the law.
 
The Turpins with the children at one of the couple's vow renewals in a Facebook photo.

The family has lived in Perris since 2014, Fellows said.
Neighbors said they knew a large family lived there, CNN affiliate KABC reported, but they never saw any of the younger children. They said the kids would emerge occasionally at the same time to work on the lawn and would head back in together.
One neighbor said the children appeared “very pale-skinned, almost like they’d never seen the sun.”
Another neighbor, Kimberly Milligan, said the children were thin and appeared malnourished.
In 2015, Milligan said she was with her son checking out Christmas decorations on nearby homes. Some of the older Turpin children were putting up a Nativity scene outside their house, and she complimented their decorations.
“They just froze,” Milligan recalled.
She described the parents as “standoffish — not in a mean way.”
Betty Turpin, the children’s grandmother, said the entire family would vacation together and had yearly passes to Disneyland.
“This is a highly respectable family,” she said.
A series of videos on social media showed the Turpins renewing their vows at the Elvis Chapel in Las Vegas in 2013 and 2015, with the children joining them.
In one ceremony, the girls, wearing the same purple plaid dresses and white shoes, lead the professional, and the boys, wearing dark suits, stand with their father.
In an interview with NBC, Louise Turpin’s sister said she was “so heartbroken” for her nieces and nephews and surprised to learn of their living conditions.
“I can’t even say the words to you that I would like to say to her. I’m so angry inside. I’m mad,” said Turpin’s sister, whom NBC identified as Teresa Robinette.
“I’m hurt,” she said. “Our life wasn’t perfect growing up but she didn’t live like that. And neither did David.” said.
Robinette said her dad was a preacher when she was younger.
“I feel like it’s a bad dream,” she said.

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