David Turpin, 56, and Louise Turpin, 49, are accused of torturing their 13 children and holding them in a starved and captive home. Despite the alleged abuse, the oldest child was succeeding in college. According to ABC News, the Turpins' son was an honors student in community college.
The son, who is in his 20s, attended Mt. San Jacinto College. His mother would apparently bring him to school and wait outside his classes and then take him home, per prosecutors. A college spokewoman confirmed that he was on the president's honor roll in fall 2015 and spring 2016, although he did not earn a degree.
Joe Chermak, who attended a musical performance at the school in May 2016, said he remembered seeing the family in the audience. He remembers them wearing matching outfits of blue shirts and tan pants and that the children appeared small and pale. "I noticed that one girl was skinny from her arm and pale."
As previously shared, the Turpins' children were mostly kept secluded. It was only after a 17-year-old daughter broke free and went to authorities that the siblings (ages 2-29) were found malnourished and abused. District Attorney Mike Hestrin claimed that it had been four years since the children had last seen a doctor. They had never even been to a dentist. They were so malnourished, in fact, that authorities initially thought the adult siblings were little kids by their puny appearance. The eldest, a 29-year-old woman, was only 82 pounds.
Meanwhile, the parents were believed to be not only well-fed and but they even taunted the children with food. They reportedly did things like eat pies and pizza in front of their children as torture. “They would buy apple pies [and] pumpkin pies, put them on counter, let the children to look at it, but not allow the children to eat the food,” Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said at a press conference.
David Turpin and Louise Turpin were each charged with multiple felony counts of torture, child abuse, abuse of dependent adults and false imprisonment. The father was also charged with one count of a lewd act on a child by force. The couple has pled not guilty. If convicted, they face up to 94 years to life in prison.
Authorities have not released the names of the children.