A Californian couple – David Turpin, 57, and his wife Louise, 49 – were charged at the weekend with torture and child endangerment after 13 of their children were found shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings.
Aged between two to 29, the emaciated victims were released by police and taken to hospital where they were fed and examined by medical staff.
David and Louise, described as “devout Christians”, were unable to explain why the children were restrained, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said in a press release.
All the victims will be placed in care once they are released from hospital.
Bail was set for David and Louise Turpin at $9 million each. The couple will appear in court on Thursday.
Apart from acting as his children’s home schooling principal, David worked as an engineer. It was the same home in which the couple home-schooled their children, and dressed the 10 girls and three boys in matching outfits.
Like their mother, all the girls had long straight brown hair. The boys wore pageboy cuts, weirdly similar to the style of their father’s long grey locks.
David is registered as the principal of their home school, Sandcastle Day School at the family house, teaching first to 12th grade. He was also once an engineer for a global security company, Northrop Grumman, earning $11,000 a month.
In Facebook photographs, the children look like clones of themselves or their parents. But they are all immaculately groomed and dressed, unlike the image painted by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department which said:
The victims appeared to be malnourished and very dirty.
Louise Turpin’s sister, who is a motivational speaker and author living in Tennessee, wrote positive things about her sister and brother-in-law.
However, the sister said she had gone through “many challenges in her life” including “child abuse”.
The family’s positive messages on Facebook have turned sour since David and Louise were arrested.
Some insisted family members must have known about what was going on inside the Turpins’ home.
But David’s parents, James and Betty, of West Virginia, told ABC News they were “surprised and shocked” by the allegations against their son and daughter-in-law.
The couple said they hadn’t seen their son and daughter-in-law since visiting them in California four to five years ago.
Other people on Facebook suggested the Turpins had done a “good job” of hiding what was going on behind the ‘”happy family” facade.