Abused California sibling went to college, didn’t seek help

Abused California sibling went to college, didn’t seek help

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The community college student with a page-boy haircut was quiet, never drew attention to himself and earned A’s semester after semester.

Despite ample opportunities, he apparently never divulged the sickening truth that his home was a veritable torture chamber.

Authorities say the student, now about 26, was the eldest male among 13 siblings who were held captive in their California home by their parents, David and Louise Turpin.

The couple starved all but their 2-year-old daughter for years and sometimes chained their children to beds for months at a time without letting them use the toilet, prosecutors said.

However, Louise Turpin regularly drove her oldest son to classes at the nearby Menifee campus of Mt. San Jacinto College and waited outside the classroom for him.

He was on the president’s honour roll in fall 2015 and spring 2016, college spokeswoman Karin Marriott said.

A transcript obtained by ABC News showed he attended classes from 2014 until at least 2016 and took up to 15 credits a semester. He earned A’s in many classes, including algebra, guitar, public speaking, English fundamentals and freshman composition.

A classmate, Marci Duncker, said he was “always quiet and alone” when they attended classes. She tried to say hello to him a few times but he just looked at her and never responded.

“It was one of the most sad faces I’d seen in years,” Duncker said.

The boy was usually one of the last people to leave class, she said.

None of the names of the abused siblings have been released by authorities and all were taken to hospitals when they were freed two weeks ago from the home in Perris, about 70 miles (113 kilometres) southeast of Los Angeles.

Authorities say the abuse was so long-running their growth was stunted.

Despite near-daily interactions with others outside the home, there’s no indication the oldest son ever sought to draw attention to what was happening at home. Gale Kelley, a trainer for the International Association of Trauma Professionals, said that reluctance is understandable.

“They were born into this. This was normal for them. Some of them may not even realize they’ve been abused,” she said. “These children have been living in isolation so they only know what they know.”

Abusers often tell children they shouldn’t talk about what happens at home or that they deserve to be treated that way, and that may have made it difficult for them to escape, she said.

“We don’t know what kind of duress they were under as far as threats,” Kelley said. “They’re still seeing the world through the eyes of a scared little kid who is in constant danger.”

The case has drawn international attention and compassion for the children.

The younger ones were home-schooled and there’s no evidence the other older children were educated outside the home, except for the oldest girl — now 29 — who had attended kindergarten to third grade in a public school in Texas.

Sheriff’s deputies rescued the children on Jan. 14 after the Turpins’ 17-year-old daughter climbed out a window and called 911.

The house reeked of human waste and evidence of starvation was obvious, with the oldest sibling weighing only 82 pounds, Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said.

The parents were arrested and pleaded not guilty to torture and other charges.

The siblings, seven adults and six children, will likely need years of therapy, psychological experts said, adding that if possible it would be best to keep them together for now.

“They’re going to have some developmental delays, no question,” said Russell Rice, a family therapist and executive director of a California residential treatment program for teenagers in Redlands. “Their brains are going to be as stunted if not more than their physical development.”

Rice said more independent options exist, for example, a residential complex with a case manager on site to assist with money management or other programs. But he said that could be overwhelming for people who have been sheltered from the outside world.

“They don’t even know how to shop, probably, and the concept of money,” he said. “They won’t be living on their own. They’ll be highly supervised for quite some time.”

The repeated exposure to traumatic events could make them skittish when they are out in public.

“The children have been in constant crisis mode, constant danger, and so that switch gets turned and it is always on,” Kelley said. “They’re expecting to see trauma everywhere and in everybody.”

California

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Masks were made mandatory in any workplace setting across Alberta as the premier introduced sweeping measures to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Paul Cowley/ Advocate Staff)
Kenney declares state of public health emergency as COVID-19 cases rise

High schools shift to online learning, businesses face new restrictions

Lynne McConnell, a Red Deer single mom who runs a delivery company, is left without a car for her business after her vehicle was stolen twice in about 48 hours. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff
Highway 11, from Sylvan Lake to Rocky Mountain House, is about to be twinned in a $120-million project announced Friday. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Town of Sylvan Lake likes Highway 11 twinning plans

Province plans to twin Highway 11 to Rocky Mountain House

Lynn Van Laar, chair of this year’s Christmas Wish Breakfast, said the event was planned outdoors to minimize the risk of COVID. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff
Outdoor Christmas Wish Breakfast helps central Alberta families this holiday season

The coronavirus pandemic isn’t going to stop children from having a merry… Continue reading

QMJHL Roundup: Armada down Olympiques to extend win streak to seven games

QMJHL Roundup: Armada down Olympiques to extend win streak to seven games

Nashville SC ends Toronto FC’s season with stunning 1-0 extra time upset

Nashville SC ends Toronto FC’s season with stunning 1-0 extra time upset

Juve, Barça, Chelsea, Sevilla advance in Champions League

Juve, Barça, Chelsea, Sevilla advance in Champions League

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) brings the ball up court against Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) during the first half of NBA basketball action in Toronto on January 28, 2020. The Raptors officially annoucned that VanVleet has agreed to a multi-year contract with the team. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Raptors guard Fred VanVleet says contract negotiations were “easy”

Raptors guard Fred VanVleet says contract negotiations were “easy”

FC Cincinnati head coach Alan Koch waves to the crowd before an MLS soccer match against the Portland Timbers in Cincinnati on March 17, 2019. Canadian Premier League team FC Edmonton has hired Koch as head coach and director of football operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, John Minchillo
FC Edmonton names Alan Koch coach of Canadian Premier League club

FC Edmonton names Alan Koch coach of Canadian Premier League club

Time running short for NHL to start next season Jan. 1

Time running short for NHL to start next season Jan. 1

Former Chicago Blackhawk Fred Sasakamoose, one of the first Indigenous pro hockey players, is honoured at the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks game in Edmonton on December 29, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Fred Sasakamoose, Indigenous NHL pioneer, dies at age 86 after presumed COVID-19 case

Fred Sasakamoose, Indigenous NHL pioneer, dies at age 86 after presumed COVID-19 case

Thanksgiving lessons jettison Pilgrim hats, welcome truth

Thanksgiving lessons jettison Pilgrim hats, welcome truth

Most Read