The parents accused of holding their 13 children in shackles at a California home have pleaded not guilty.David Turpin, 56, and Louise Turpin, 49, are facing charges of torture, abuse and false imprisonment.
The Turpins have 13 children between two and 29 years old. Seven of them are adults. Investigators said the siblings had been so malnourished that the older ones still looked like children. The oldest, a 29-year-old woman, weighed just 82 pounds, prosecutors said. A 12-year-old appeared to be the size of an average seven-year-old.
They were arrested after one daughter escaped from their home, where police later found some siblings chained to beds and severely malnourished.
The couple appeared in court hours after prosecutors detailed the horrific abuse allegations against them.
The shocking claims against the couple include:
- The children were accustomed to frequent beatings, including strangulation
- They were only allowed one shower a year
- The children would stay awake all night until going to sleep at four or five in the morning and slept during the day
- They were not allowed to play with any toys but many were found inside the house in their original packaging
- If the children washed their hands above the wrist they were subjected to punishments, allegedly accused of “playing with water”
- The Turpin parents allowed their children to eat only one meal a day but the parents would sometimes buy food, like pumpkin pies, and place it where the children could see it but not eat it
- They have never seen a dentist and haven’t visited a doctor in over four years
- The children lack basic knowledge of life, and did not know who a police officer was
The charges they deny are among the most serious any parent could face: amounting to a grievous betrayal of their own children, a betrayal which prosecutors allege went on for years, if not decades.
If found guilty of the dozens of charges against them, the couple face 94 years to life in prison.