Turpin family: What we know about the California couple who allegedly held 13 children captive
LATEST: Here are the updates police provided on the case Tuesday afternoon
- Captives had been held for “prolonged period of time”
- All captives are confirmed to be biological children of captors
- No evidence that the children were sexually abused
- There had been no previous calls to police about this case
But the police discovery of the siblings trapped “in dark and foul-smelling surroundings” inside a Perris, Calif., home also shocked neighbours and the couple’s other family members.
The parents — David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49 — face charges of torture and child endangerment.
Riverside County Sheriff’s officials said they discovered the victims Sunday, after one of the children, a 17-year-old girl, escaped with a cellphone and contacted authorities.
Police described the scene: “Several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings, but the parents were unable to immediately provide a logical reason why their children were restrained in that manner.”
“The victims appeared to be malnourished and very dirty,” a police press release added.
WATCH: Police say conditions inside the home amounted to “torture”
Social media posts
While the descriptions by police are disturbing, social media posts by the family tell a different story. Photos posted by the couple on Facebook in 2016 show the family happily celebrating what appears to be the parents’ wedding.
Another post from 2011 shows the children and parents vacationing at Disneyland.
The parents also posted other photos over the years, including several of his children dressed in matching outfits.
Grandparents ‘shocked’ at charges
The revelations by police sent shockwaves through on more than just an online audience. The parents of David Turpin, James and Betty Turpin, told ABC News they were “shocked” by the news, and had not visited with the family in several years but were in contact over the phone.
The grandparents explained that the couple had a large family because “God called on them” to have many children and that they were a Christian family. They added that the couple was “very strict” about homeschooling the children.
WATCH: Parents arrested after 12 children found shackled in California home
David Turpin is listed as the principal of the Sandcastle Day School — a private school with the same address as his home — on the California Department of Education website.
Family’s financial history
According to BBC News, the family moved from Texas to California in 2010 and had lived in the same house since then. David Turpin worked as an engineer at Northrop Grumman and aeronautics.
But the news outlet adds that the family’s expenses exceeded their earnings.
Records show the Turpins filed for bankruptcy in 2011. Nancy Trahan, who works in the Temecula, Calif., law office that handled the bankruptcy, said the couple were friendly and spoke highly of their children.
Neighbours describe the family as private
Neighbours told NBC News that the family was private and generally kept to themselves. They explained that the children were very thin, and often looked unhealthy and pale when seen outside.
“They looked very unnutrioned [sic], very white like they never got sun at all,” one neighbour named Wendy Martinez said. “I mean, they would never come out and when they did, the lady would stand there watching them.”
“Everybody was super skinny, and not athletic skinny, but malnourished skinny,” another neighbour said.
— With files from Global News reporter Kevin Nielsen, Reuters
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