On January 14, 2018, police in Perris, California raided a home where Louise and David Turpin allegedly had their 13 children living in squalid conditions that startled investigators and the world. The Turpins were subsequently arrested. But what happened to the kids? Where are they with the trial? What could the parents’ motive be for allegedly treating their children so horribly? Here are the seven latest things you need to know about the Turpin family case.
1) Charges Against Louise and David Turpin
David and Louise Turpin are facing a long list of charges. The couple is charged with: 12 counts of torture; seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult; nine counts of child abuse or neglect; and 12 counts of false imprisonment.
David also faces one count of lewd acts on a child under the age of 14 by force, fear, or duress.
In May 2018, David Turpin was also hit with eight counts of perjury for filing false affidavits with the statement department of education stating that his children were getting attending full-time education at a private day school.
The affidavits were filed from 2010 to 2017.
Our office today filed 8 counts of perjury against David Turpin for filing a Private School Affidavit with the Cal Dept. of Education in 2010-17 where he certified under penalty of perjury that the children in the home were receiving a fulltime education in a private day school. pic.twitter.com/FMIwbNVwC0
— Riverside County DA’s Office (@RivCoDA) May 4, 2018
Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said the only thing the so-called home-schooled children were allowed to do while held captive in their bedrooms was writing in journals.
In spite of the mountain of evidence against them, Louise Turpin, 49, and David Turpin 56, both pleaded not guilty to close to 50 charges.
They are being held on $12.0 million bail each. If convicted, they can look forward to life behind bars.
2) June 2018 Preliminary Hearing
On June 20 and 21, 2018, the preliminary hearing into the alleged child abuse and torture of the 13 Turpin children took place at the Riverside Hall of Justice in Riverside, California. It was here that prosecutors laid out their evidence against the couple.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Bernard Schwartz found probable cause that David and Louise Turpin abused 12 of their 13 children and ordered them to stand trial.
3) Chilling 911 Call Reveals State of Turpin Family
During the preliminary hearing, the court heard the chilling 911 call made by the Turpin’s 17-year-old daughter as she escaped the “house of horrors” on January 14, 2018.
Her call shows just how much her parents allegedly controlled all of their lives.
I can’t breathe because of how dirty the house is,” the Turpin daughter said on the call. “We don’t take baths. I don’t know if we need to go to the doctor.”
The unnamed girl is also heard saying a brother and two younger sisters were chained to their beds and that she could not take it any longer.
“They will wake up at night and they will start crying and they wanted me to call somebody,” she said. “I wanted to call y’all so y’all can help my sisters.”
When she struggled to remember her home address, the 911 operator asked her if she was around the corner from her house.
“Yeah, I think,” the girl said. “I’ve never been out. I don’t go out much.”
According to the sheriff’s department, the 17-year-old hadn’t bathed in a year and didn’t know the date or the month.
Investigators with the county district attorney’s office testified that doctors and medical records showed some of the children were severely malnourished and had muscle wasting. Some of the adult children were as much as 32 lb underweight. An 11-year-old girl who had been chained to her bed was stunted from malnourishment. Her arms were the size of an infant’s.
Louise Turpin, who listened to the recording while it was played during the preliminary hearing, blotted at her eyes with a tissue.
A relaxed looking David Turpin, who had his trademark bowl-cut trimmed to look more professional, sat there quietly.
4) Speculation about Their Mental State
Since Louise and David Turpin were arrested, there have been a lot of questions about their mental state—and questions about what could have driven them to allegedly abuse their children.
Officially, prosecutors have not said much regarding a possible motive for the Turpins. District Attorney Mike Hestrin alluded to allegations that the Turpins were gaining some sort of gratification from the manipulation of their children.
David Finkelhor is a professor of sociology and director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. He told Time that there are a number of mental issues that could possibly be the cause of the Turpins’ alleged treatment of their children. The Turpins might have thought that they were protecting their children from a horrible society by keeping them locked up. Or perhaps this was all a horribly misguided attempt to keep the children in line.
5) Sister of Louise Turpin Says She Practiced Witchcraft
Elizabeth Flores, 42, the younger sister of Louise Turpin, has other ideas about their mental state. In fact, she claims Louise was dabbling in the dark arts.
“She told me she was messing around with witchcraft. It just really freaked me out,” she said.
In her tell-all book, Sisters of Secrets, (which was sent to publishers just one week before the world learned about the Turpin’s house of horrors), Flores maintains she had no previous knowledge about the abuse. And she says Louise has long been obsessed with witchcraft, Satanic rituals, and Ouija boards. She believes it may have fueled the abuse of her 13 children.
“She brought the Ouija board to my home and I wouldn’t let her bring it in my door,” Flores said.
According to Elizabeth, Louise said the Ouija board told her she would have another child.
Flores even wonders if playing with the Ouija board could have played a role in how Louise and David treated their 13 kids.
“I do know witchcraft is very serious and demonic,” Flores said. “If she did get deep into that, I do think it could have led her to do what she did because you’re basically selling your soul to the devil.”
Was it Louise who was the driving force behind the alleged abuse?
“Maybe she was the mastermind behind all this,” Flores said. “Maybe it wasn’t David.”
6) Louise Was Fascinated with Handling Poisonous Snakes
Louise was dabbling in more than just witchcraft. Her sister Elizabeth says Louise invited her to join a snake handling festival in Arlington.
“Louise was attracted to that, like women dancing with rattle snakes around their necks,” Flores said. She also recounted how Louise boasted that handling and even eating snakes filled her with “power.”
In her book Sisters of Secrets, Elizabeth Flores recounts how she visited Louise’s home after the arrest. She noticed a statue of a snake in “attack mode” by the door.
Why would Louise want to handle snakes? Louise and David Turpin are devout adherents of the conservative Quiverfull movement and Pentecostalism. There are a number of different Bible verses that say how one will protected by God if they pick up deadly serpents.
Mark 16:18 – “…they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
7) Where Are the Turpin Kids?
The 13 Turpin children, who range in age from two to 29, are currently living in three separate homes in Riverside County.
The six minors had to be split up due to the amount of care they will need. Currently, the two youngest children are in foster care, while the other four are living in another residence.
While the Turpin children may be split up, they are still in regular contact with one another. According to officials, the family consistently communicates through Skype.
What will ultimately happen to the Turpin family is unclear, but at the moment the situation of the children has greatly improved. According to officials, the adult children are looking to get their GEDs and possibly continue their education in college.
Before escaping their home, the eldest Turpin son was allowed by his parents to attend college. At the time, he did quite well and made the honor roll for the 2015 fall semester and 2016 winter semester at Mt. San Jacinto College. While he accumulated numerous credits, no degree was achieved.
In an effort to help the Turpin kids get an education, Mt. San Jacinto College set up the “Perris Inspires” college fund for the 13 children.