The strange behavior did not escape the neighbors, but they thought that perhaps David and Louise Turpin were simply a strange couple with a large family that preferred to be private.
A neighbor, Mike Clifford, did not worry too much when he saw several children walking in circles late at night inside his home in Southern California. It was weird, he told the Los Angeles Times, but maybe it was something they did, or maybe the children had special needs.
Another neighbor, Salynn Simon, told the Times that she was surprised but not upset when she found one of the Turpins' children, a man in his 20s who did not look his age. "You look 15," he told the young man who just smiled and nodded.
Neighbors and relatives now know that there is more in the Turpin family than a strange behavior and that the children of the couple were malnourished. The heartbreaking revelations of recent days caught the headlines throughout the country and elsewhere.
"HOUSE OF HORRORS", said a headline on the cover of People magazine. The revelations also confused those who had interacted with the couple and stopped dealing with why they were not more concerned at that time.
Authorities said the children, for reasons that are still unclear, were starved for years and held captive in a dirty, smelly house in Perris , California, not far from Los Angeles. If they behaved badly, they were tied to their beds as punishment, first with a rope and then with chains and padlocks, and they were prevented from using the bathroom, prosecutors said.
David Allen Turpin and Louise Anna Turpin each face about 40 counts, including a dozen counts of torture and another dozen counts of false imprisonment. They have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
On Wednesday, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Emma Smith forbade parents to communicate with children for the next three years, including by phone or electronically. Only your lawyer can deliver messages, Desert Sun reported.
The protection order granted by the judge prohibits the Turpins from being within 100 yards of their children. The order also prohibits Turpin's parents from harassing or harassing their children, and from attempting to obtain their homes, according to Riverside Press-Enterprise.
The parents, who each have bail of $ 12 million, appeared in court suits and shackles, Press-Enterprise reported. Louise Turpin was photographed smiling before the brief hearing.
Louise Turpin appears in court in Riverside, California, on Wednesday. (Mike Blake / Pool via AP)
Prior to Wednesday's hearing, Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin said the brothers are slowly opening themselves to investigators, even while they remain hospitalized after being rescued from the hospital. house on January 14.
"Victims in this type of case tell their story, but they tell it slowly, they say it at their own pace," Hestrin told The Associated Press. "It will come out when it comes out."
The alleged child abuse hid in plain sight for years and was not discovered until last week, when one of the couple's daughters slipped through a window and called 911 from a telephone he found inside the house, said the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. She said she was 17 years old, but she was so small that the authorities thought she was only 10. The deputies were also surprised to discover that several of the Turpin brothers were, in fact, adults.
The Turpins had 10 girls and three boys. The oldest is 29 and weighed only 82 pounds. The youngest is 2, the only one of the brothers who was not malnourished, authorities said.
National press coverage of the case over the past week has led David Turpin's attorney to consider whether the trial could be moved out of Riverside County.
"The frequent appearance of photographs or video images of the Turpins in the media can affect potential jurors, harm them against the Turpins and make it necessary to explore a possible motion for a change of venue," wrote lawyer David Macher . a judicial motion, according to the Desert Sun.
David and Louise Turpin appear in court with their lawyers Wednesday in Riverside, California. (Terry Pierson / AFP / Getty Images)
People who knew members of the Turpin family are now reexamining their interactions with them.
A man who said he attended elementary school in Fort Worth with one of the Turpins' daughters recalled a frail girl who wore the same dirty purple attire every day. ay, and tied her hair with a Hershey bar wrap – the girl "nobody wanted to be caught talking to."
The man, Taha Muntajibuddin, now 28, said the girl moved after the third grade. Years later, he said, he found himself wondering how he was doing. He had a "rude awakening" last week after reading stories about the girl and her family, he said.
"I can not help but feel an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame." Of course, none of us is responsible for the events that followed, but you can not help but feel bad when the classmate your classmates made fun of. To smell poop, "literally, he had to sit in his own crap because he was chained to his bed," Muntajibuddin wrote in a long post on Facebook. "It's not sobering to know that the person who sat in front of you at the lunch table went home to the dirt and grime while going home to a hot meal and a story to sleep in."
The family had also lived in Murrieta, California, where Clifford said he often saw children through a window on the second floor at night. They marched in circles, over and over again, for long periods of time, he told the Los Angeles Times.
"It was a strange thing, [but] there was never anything to say," Oh, my God, I should call someone, "said Clifford, who did not immediately respond to a call from The Washington Post.
Other nights, he saw the brothers get into a van with his father, he told the Times. Once again, he wondered why, but he did not suspect anything horrifying.
The family moved a few miles north to Perris in 2014. There, during a Christmas decorating contest two years ago, Louise Turpin cheerfully talked about her big family and joked about how her older children always had They show their IDs during trips to Las Vegas, Simon, the other neighbor, told the Times.
Turpin had always wanted a great family and was excited about "Kate Plus 8", a reality show about a mother and her sextuplets and twin daughters, Turpin's brother, Billy Lambert, told People. She was even talking about having a 14th child.
If he and other members of his family knew something was wrong, Lambert said, "we would have stopped it ourselves."
On the surface, the family seemed happy. The Turpins renewed their marriage vows at least three times since they were married 33 years ago. One of them was as recent as 2015, when the couple danced the song "Can not Help Falling in Love" sung by an Elvis impersonator. Louise Turpin wore a strapless white wedding dress and her husband a tuxedo. His daughters wore purple plaid dresses with ribbon belts and their children wore identical black suits and red ties.
Some online photos show the Turpins on family trips, always wearing identical costumes. In one image, the brothers – all pale and skinny, and wearing the same red shirts with different numbers printed on the front – smiled as they posed with their parents.
"She told us that the kids are doing great, she was very busy going home," Lambert told People. "She told us that David earned two or three hundred thousand [dollars] per year, so we thought they had this amazing life and that they were always traveling."
Records show that the Turpins had thousands of dollars in debt. They applied for Chapter 7 bankruptcy at least twice: in 1992 in Fort Worth and in 2011 in Riverside, California. Court documents say that David Turpin earned about $ 140,000 as an engineer while his wife stayed at home.
The records also show that the Turpins ran a school from their home. David Turpin is on the directory of the Department of Education as the principal of Sandcastle Day School, a private K-12 school that has the same address as the couple's home.
The Riverside University Health System Foundation has started an online campaign to raise money to help the brothers. "Our phones started ringing almost immediately with calls from individuals and organizations that wanted to know how they can help," said Erin Phillips, executive director of the foundation, last week. "We recognize that financial gifts will not eliminate trauma, but additional resources will be extremely important in helping these victims adapt over time."
The Turpins will arrive at the court on February 23.
Toys left by neighbors by the Turpin brothers sit in front of their family's home in Perris, California, on Wednesday. (Damian Dovarganes / AP)
Samantha Schmidt and Lindsey Bever contributed to this story, which has been updated.
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