The parents of 13 sisters and brothers found malnourished in their family home were charged Thursday with torture, abuse and other counts that could keep them in prison for the rest of their lives, a prosecutor said.
Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin described a house of horrors in which David Turpin, 57, and Louise Turpin, 49, raised their children amid filth, chained to furniture and taunted with food they desperately needed but were relentlessly denied.
“There are cases that stick with you, that haunt you,” Hestrin said at a press conference Thursday. “Sometimes in this business we are faced with looking at human depravity.”
The Turpins each face 12 counts of torture, seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult, six counts of child abuse or neglect and 12 counts of false imprisonment. David Turpin also faces one count of committing a lewd act by force or fear, the first indication from authorities the case may involve sexual abuse.
Authorities arrested the couple Sunday after their 17-year-old daughter grabbed a cellphone, jumped out a window and fled into the night. She called 911, telling police her 12 siblings were being essentially held hostage by their parents, with some padlocked to their beds.
Hestrin said the courageous teen plotted her escape for two years, and that a sibling fled with her but was frightened and returned to the home.
Officers found the children living in squalor. Hestrin said three children were chained to furniture when officers arrived, but the parents had freed two of them by the time officers entered the home.
The children ranged in age from 2 to 29, but they were so malnourished that all of them looked like minors, Hestrin said. The 29-year-old female victim weighed 82 pounds, he said.
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