California couple charged with torture and abuse of children

Prosecutors say 13 children of David and Louise Turpin were beaten, starved and chained

California police have described the case of 13 children who were rescued from a suburban home as "torture", police have not revealed the motive behind the case. Video: Reuters


The California couple accused of keeping their 13 children captive in the family’s squalid home were charged on Thursday with torture, child abuse and false imprisonment, as prosecutors said the victims were beaten, starved and chained.

David Turpin (57) and his wife Louise Turpin (49) each face 94 years to life in prison if convicted on the more than two dozen charges against them, Riverside County District attorney Mike Hestrin told reporters at a press conference.

“We’re fully prepared to seek justice in this case and do so in a way that protects these victims from further harm,” Mr Hestrin said.

David Turpin was also charged with one count of committing a lewd act on a child by force or duress, Mr Hestrin said.

Both parents, who were arrested after their emaciated 17-year-old daughter climbed out of a window of the family home in Perris, California and called police, were scheduled to make an initial court appearance in the case later on Thursday.

Police who responded have said they found the girl’s 12 siblings, ranging in age from 2 to 29, being held in “horrific” conditions, some chained to beds.

David Turpin’s mother, Betty Turpin, told Reuters on Wednesday that the family had hired a lawyer, who advised them not to speak about the case.

Investigators this week have conducted an exhaustive search of the house, where the children also were apparently home-schooled.

The Turpins lived in Fort Worth, Texas nearly two decades ago before they lost their home in a foreclosure, according to reports by CBS 11, a Dallas-Fort Worth network affiliate. Current owners who said they kept photos of the house said it was filthy when they bought it, according to one of the station’s reporters, who posted the images on Twitter.

The California Department of Education lists the Perris address, where the family has lived since 2014, as the location of the Sandcastle Day School, with David Turpin as principal.

Experts say it may have been easier for the parents to shield their children from scrutiny because they were home-schooled. – Reuters