Local law enforcement authorities held a news conference Thursday and released more disturbing details about the Perris, California, parents who were arrested for shackling and neglecting their 13 children.
Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin addressed the media on Thursday in a half-hour news conference.
The charges against the Turpins
David and Louise Turpin were charged with 12 counts of torture, one count of a lewd act upon a child, and seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult, six counts of child abuse and neglect, and 12 counts of false imprisonment.
How the abuse began
Hestrin says the abuse began many years prior when the parents tied the kids down with rope. At one point, they hog-tied children, but when some escaped, they began to chain them with padlocks to their beds. This was a form of punishment, and could last weeks and even months at a time.
Circumstantial evidence suggested that the children were not released to go to the bathroom when they were shackled.
A plan to escape
The 17-year-old girl who escaped had been planning with her siblings’ help on how to get free. She went through a window with one sibling, but the sibling became scared and returned to the house.
How bad was the abuse?
Hestrin said that they suffered from extreme malnourishment from severe caloric malnutrition. To give an example of the abuse, he explained, “one of the children at age 12 was the weight of an average 7-year-old.” Another victim, a 29-year-old, weighted 82 pounds.
“Several of the victims have cognitive impairment, and neuropathy, which is nerve damage, as a result of this extreme and prolonged physical abuse,” he added.
Victims weren’t allowed to shower more than once per year. Hestrin said that victims were frequently beaten and even strangled.
The children were fed very little, and they were not allowed to have toys, but perversely, police found many toys that were still in their original boxes, and unopened.
Children lacked a basic knowledge of life. They didn’t know what a police officer was, or what medication was. Hestrin said that they were only allowed to write in journals, and police had recovered hundred of journals to analyze.
What punishment do they face for the charges?
If the couple is convicted of all of the counts filed against them, they could face 94 years to life in prison.
That while they had enough to file charges against the parents, the investigation is on-going and could result in more charges being filed.