California siblings 'starved, shackled, taunted with food'

The children would stay awake all night until going to sleep at four or five in the morning and slept during the day. Investigators went to the house and freed the children, prompting days of investigations that led to a series of charges.

David and Louise Turpin are both from Princeton, West Virginia, relatives say.

"I thought they were really strict, but I didn't see any abuse", Flores said.

Neighbor Kimberly Milligan said one of those rare encounters occurred in 2015 and especially stood out. "Louise Turpin would accompany him, wait outside the classroom for him".

If they misbehaved, the 13 siblings living in a Southern California home would be tied to their beds as punishment. "They immediately shut down".

"At this point, we'll be doing a full assessment with medical professionals to better understand needs of the adults as well as the children, and we'll be prepared to provide supportive services as well as engage other agencies in assisting these individuals to be stable", she told reporters Tuesday.

The abuse and neglect started decades ago, when the family lived in Fort Worth, and continued as they moved to Murrieta in 2010 and then to Perris in 2014, Hestrin said in announcing multiple felony charges against the couple.

The district attorney also gave details of the alleged torture, calling it "severe, emotional, physical abuse".

Although the children were apparently home schooled, they knew little about life and could not even recognize that it was a policeman who came to their rescue, Hestrin said.

Even as the children suffered from lack of food, the district attorney said, the parents would buy food for themselves and leave it out for their children to see. - The victims weren't released from their chains even to go to the bathroom and were only allowed to shower once a year, according to prosecutors.

Back when she was in college, Flores lived with the Turpins for a few months.

"One of the children, at age 12, is the weight of an average 7-year-old", Hestrin said.

Police have recovered "hundreds" of journals kept by the siblings, Mr Hestrin said - allegedly one of the few activities they were allowed to pursue. He told police he took the girl to a hospital for stitches and the dog to a veterinarian to be put down, according to records obtained by The Associated Press. Deputies found a 22-year-old chained to a bed. The pair appeared in court on Thursday, January 18, and faced 12 counts of torture, seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult, six counts of child abuse or neglect and 12 counts of false imprisonment. "The basis of torture charge is not just one thing, it's severe abuse over time".

David Turpin was also charged with a lewd act on a child by force or fear of duress.

The couple's next court date is set for Friday, February 23. The parents can face up to 94 years in prison if convicted.

A public defender is representing David Turpin and an outside attorney is representing Louise Turpin.

As the criminal case proceeds, the future of the children will likely be decided in another courtroom.

"When you've been malnourished for so many years, your immune system is much weaker than it should be, and you're more prone to getting infection", Raj said.

"However, there are times where the court may not want to make that ruling until it's further on in the criminal case". She said her son shared her Pentecostal Christian faith but he wasn't affiliated with a church in California.

In the short term, the children will be placed in foster care, she said. It's not clear for how long, but officials say it was a "prolonged period of time".

"It seemed that the mother was perplexed as to why we were at the residence", he said.


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