Tuesday 24 April 2018

'They seemed happy' - grandparents' shock after California police rescue 13 siblings, parents arrested on torture charges

  • Grandparents 'shocked and surprised' at allegations
  • Parents held on $9m bail, could face torture charges
  • Children had to undergo 'very strict homeschooling'
  • Discovery made after young woman escaped house, rang emergency services
The Turpin family
The Turpin family
David Allen Turpin (57) and 49-year old Louise Anna Turpin arrested on torture and child endangerment charges
A van sits parked on the driveway of the home of David Allen Turpin and Louise Ann Turpin in Perris, California, U.S. January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
News crews gather outside the home of David Allen and Louise Anna Turpin in Perris, California, U.S., January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
News crews gather outside the home of David Allen and Louise Anna Turpin in Perris, California, U.S., January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The home of David Allen and Louise Anna Turpin in Perris, California, U.S., January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
News crews gather outside the home of David Allen and Louise Anna Turpin in Perris, California, U.S., January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
News crews gather outside the home of David Allen and Louis Anna Turpin in Perris, California, U.S., January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
News crews gather outside the home of David Allen and Louis Anna Turpin in Perris, California, U.S., January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The home of David Allen and Louise Anna Turpin in Perris, California, U.S., January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Neighbors stand and watch news crews outside the home of David Allen and Louise Anna Turpin in Perris, California, U.S., January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Neighbors stand and watch news crews outside the home of David Allen and Louise Anna Turpin in Perris, California, U.S., January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Members of the news media sit parked outside the home of David Allen Turpin and Louise Ann Turpin in Perris, California, U.S. January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Members of the news media stand outside the home of David Allen Turpin and Louise Ann Turpin in Perris, California, U.S. January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Members of the news media are parked outside the home of David Allen Turpin and Louise Ann Turpin in Perris, California, U.S. January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

The parents of 13 adults and children that were discovered emaciated in a "foul-smelling" California home were "very protective of their children", according to family members.

David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were each held on 9 million dollar (€7.34 million) bail and could face charges including torture and child endangerment after the shocking discovery of their family.

David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, each were held on 9 million dollar (€7.34 million) bail and could face charges including torture and child endangerment
David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, each were held on 9 million dollar (€7.34 million) bail and could face charges including torture and child endangerment

The thirteen siblings were rescued by police after a number of them were found chained to beds in "foul-smelling surroundings".

Now, David Turpin’s parents, James and Betty Turpin of West Virginia, have spoken to ABC News and said they were "surprised and shocked" at the allegations.

Neighbors stand and watch news crews outside the home of David Allen and Louise Anna Turpin in Perris, California, U.S., January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Neighbors stand and watch news crews outside the home of David Allen and Louise Anna Turpin in Perris, California, U.S., January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

They said their grandchildren are home-schooled, and that they had not seen their son and daughter-in-law in four or five years.

They said the parents were "very protective of their children" and were a "respectable family".

Members of the news media sit parked outside the home of David Allen Turpin and Louise Ann Turpin in Perris, California, U.S. January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Members of the news media sit parked outside the home of David Allen Turpin and Louise Ann Turpin in Perris, California, U.S. January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

James and Betty Turpin said they last saw their son and daughter-in-law when they visited them in California some four to five years ago. They said they have kept in touch with them by phone since.

The couple told ABC News "God called on them [David and Louise]" to have as many children as they did.

Neighbors stand and watch news crews outside the home of David Allen and Louise Anna Turpin in Perris, California, U.S., January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Neighbors stand and watch news crews outside the home of David Allen and Louise Anna Turpin in Perris, California, U.S., January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The children in the home were undergoing "very strict homeschooling" and would memorise long passages of the bible.

Some of the children's goals were to memorise the bible in its entirety, according to the couple.

News crews gather outside the home of David Allen and Louis Anna Turpin in Perris, California, U.S., January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
News crews gather outside the home of David Allen and Louis Anna Turpin in Perris, California, U.S., January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The grandparents said they thought the children "looked thin" the last time they saw them, but that they seemed like a "happy family".

Discovery

A van sits parked on the driveway of the home of David Allen Turpin and Louise Ann Turpin in Perris, California, U.S. January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A van sits parked on the driveway of the home of David Allen Turpin and Louise Ann Turpin in Perris, California, U.S. January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The discovery was made after a 17-year-old girl called police after escaping from her family's California home where she and her 12 brothers and sisters were locked up, some so malnourished officers at first believed all were children even though seven are adults.

The girl, who was so small officers initially believed she was only 10, called 911 and was met by police who interviewed her and then went to the family home in Perris, about 70 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

They found several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark, according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

The children, ages two to 29, "appeared to be malnourished and very dirty," according to officers who arrested the parents.

Neighbours said they were stunned by the arrests. Andrew Santillan, who lives around the corner, heard about the case from a friend.

"I had no idea this was going on," he told the Press-Enterprise of Riverside. "I didn't know there were kids in the house."

Other neighbours described the family as intensely private.

A few years ago, Robert Perkins said he and his mother saw a few family members constructing a Nativity scene in the Turpins' front yard. Mr Perkins said he complimented them on it.

"They didn't say a word," he said.

The Turpins filed for bankruptcy in 2011, stating in court documents they owed between 100,000 dollars (£81,540) and 500,000 dollars (€407,700), The New York Times reported.

At that time, Mr Turpin worked as an engineer at Northrop Grumman and earned 140,000 dollars (€114,000) annually and his wife was a homemaker, records showed.

Their bankruptcy lawyer, Ivan Trahan, told the Times he never met the children but the couple "spoke about them highly."

"We remember them as a very nice couple," Mr Trahan said, adding that Louise Turpin told him the family loved Disneyland and visited often.

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