With disheveled hair and ill-fitting black suits provided by the public defender's office, both seemed dazed as they sat in the room full of reporters. His hands rested in his laps, with shackles with a chain around his waists and another around each of his ankles. The bond was set at $ 12 million each.
Mr. Hestrin said many of the children appear to have cognitive impairments and show evidence of nerve damage from "extreme and prolonged physical abuse." None of the brothers, from 2 to 29 years old, have seen a doctor in four years and have never seen a dentist.
Forced to stay up all night and sleep during the day, they were given only a small amount of food at a strict schedule, Hestrin said. A 29-year-old daughter weighed only 82 pounds and a 12-year-old sister was the size of a 7-year-old girl. Apparently, the 2-year-old boy was not abused, Mr. Hestrin said.
The daughter who escaped did not understand what the officers were referring to when they asked if there were medications in the home. Many of the children did not know what a police officer was.
"They lack a basic knowledge of life," Hestrin said.
Mr. Hestrin also reported how children were allowed to bathe only once a year; if they washed their arms over their wrists, they were accused of "playing in the water" and chaining themselves to their beds as punishment, said Hestrin.
Victims were often not released from their toilet chains, "he said.
Before Sunday, neither the law enforcement nor the child protection services had any contact with the Turpin family. He concealed the abuse in part by registering the residence as a private school, which prevented government officials from coming in contact with the children, authorities said.
But it had been going on for years. The family lived in Fort Worth, Texas, where, Mr. Hestrin said, parents used the rope and "tied up" the children.When one escaped, they began to use chains and padlocks, he said.The most intense abuse, he said, seemed targeting older children, who also "fed very little in a strict schedule." There were "frequent beatings and even strangulation," he added.
"What started as negligence turned into severe, widespread and prolonged abuse. or ", said Mr. Hestrin.
He begged anyone who knew the family to contact his office.
"Someone must have seen something, someone must have noticed something," Hestrin said. "We need your help".
While several neighbors have said that they thought the family was a lonely and lonely person, they never worried so much about calling the police.
Roberto Gomez, 45, who lives in the house behind the Turpins, said on Tuesday that the family seemed to leave the lights on 24 hours a day and seemed to be more active during the night. But neither Mr. Gómez, nor his son, saw the people who lived there, which seemed strange to them in a neighborhood where families are often outside.
"I thought you were doing something like drugs," said the old man. Gomez said. "But I never expected there to be 13 children there."
Kimberly Milligan, who moved into the neighborhood two and a half years ago, said Thursday that she rarely saw children.
"I would say, are we sure that 13 children live there because it just does not make sense," he said in a telephone interview.
One recent night, Milligan said, she and her son were outside, and her son suddenly asked, "What are you doing in the trash? Can you?" He was one of the three children of the Turpins, she said. She did not think much about that at that moment. But now, based on conversations with neighbors who saw similar episodes, he believes the boy may have been rummaging for food.
Mr. Turpin appeared to be employed and earned a regular income, Mr. Hestrin said. He and his wife ate well. The police found several toys scattered around the four-room house, but they did not open. The only thing the children were allowed to do was write in newspapers: the authorities found hundreds of them at home.
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