David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, with their children as the renew their vows. picture: Supplied
David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, with their children as the renew their vows. picture: Supplied

Turpin boy who was allowed out

SHACKLED in handcuffs to a chair - in much the same way he and his wife are accused of chaining their starving children to their beds and leaving them to sit in their own excrement - David Turpin and his wife Louise Turpin have been banned access to their kids.

As a judge signed a protective order on Wednesday banning the accused child torturers from contacting their children - except through lawyers or investigators - anecdotes surfaced about one of the 13 siblings who was allowed rare contact with the outside world.

Police arrested the husband and wife on January 14 after their 17-year-old daughter climbed out a window and called 911. They freed the 13 siblings aged between 2 and 29 from the family's filthy home. Three were shackled to beds when police knocked on the door.

All but the youngest of the 13 was malnourished and so badly emaciated they appeared 10 years younger than their age.

'HE LOOKED FAMISHED'

They were periodically isolated from each other, and largely from the outside world, but County District Attorney Mike Hestrin revealed one of the older boys had taken classes at a local community college.

But those trips came under the watchful eye of his mother.

She would drive him to Mt San Jacinto College campus, and wait outside class for him. She'd take him home as soon as class was over.

The college confirmed one of the Turpins had been a student but refused to provide additional information.

A former classmate said the "sweet, but odd introvert young man" who wore the same clothes to music class for the whole semester was "shy, frail and visibly hungry", NBC Los Angeles reports.

"I could see sadness in his face," Angie Parra said. "His eyes. He never wanted to make eye contact with anyone.".

Her "famished" classmate once gulped down food at a school "potluck" event. "He stood by the table and didn't sit down with a plate. He literally ate plate after plate after plate," she said.

ABC News reports he attended classes at the community college for six semesters.

The children were largely homeschooled, but earlier this week, a former classmate of the oldest female member of the family revealed in her brief attendance at a mainstream school she was bullied, teased because she smelled, and labelled the "cootie kid" by classmates.

Taha Muntajibuddin was horrified to learn that the girl teased in school for "smelling like poop ... quite literally had to sit in her own waste because she was chained to her bed".

"It is nothing but sobering to know that the person who sat across from you at the lunch table went home to squalor and filth while you went home to a warm meal and a bedtime story," Mr Muntajibuddin wrote.

SHACKLED SIBLINGS 'TELLING STORY AT THEIR OWN PACE'

The former captive siblings were providing valuable information to investigators, Hestrin told The Associated Press.

"Victims in these kinds of cases, they tell their story, but they tell it slowly. They tell it at their own pace," he said.

"It will come out when it comes out."

Authorities say the children were tortured by their parents and so malnourished that their growth was stunted.

David and Louise Turpin have pleaded not guilty to torture and other charges.

All of the children remained in hospital, relieved to be out of the home, Hestrin said.

In court before Wednesday's brief hearing began, Louise Turpin looked at her husband and smiled.

David Turpin's lawyer, David Macher said the protective order "protects everyone involved, including my client".

"I don't want my client exposed to accusations that he attempted to harass or threaten a witness," he said.

Louise Turpin's lawyer declined to comment after the hearing

'LOCKED IN SMALL GROUPS'

Investigators have learned that the children were isolated from each other and locked in different rooms in small groups, Hestrin said.

They had no access to televisions or radios, but were able to read and write and expressed themselves in hundreds of journals that were seized from the home, the district attorney said.

"It appears to me that they lacked any kind of understanding about how the world worked," Hestrin said.

Prosecutors said the children were all subjected to "prolonged abuse" which included beatings and choking, and allowing them to shower no more than once a year.

They were allegedly starved, and forced to eat rationed meals once per day, forced to stay awake through the night and sleep through the day.

Hestrin said the torture gradually escalated after the family moved from Texas to Riverside County in 2011.

"One victim at one point was tied up and hog tied," he said. "When that victim was able to escape the ropes, these defendants eventually began using chains and padlocks to chain the victims to their beds."

Earlier this week, Louise Turpin's half-brother, Billy Lambert, told several news organisations that she had aspired to have a reality television show focusing on their large family. But Hestrin said investigators have uncovered no evidence indicating the couple was seeking media attention or a show.

ADOPTION

Several people have come forward with offers to adopt the 13 children allegedly tortured by their parents in Riverside County, California, a local official told AFP.

"I can only speak to those (adoption) offers we are hearing about and many of those include offers to take in all 13 victims," said Kimberly Trone with the county Children's Services Division.

She emphasised however that "there is still much to be determined," and that the final decision on adoption will made in court.

The Turpins face 12 counts of torture, 12 of false imprisonment, six of child abuse and six of abuse of a dependent adult.

David Turpin is also charged with committing a lewd act against his 14-year-old daughter.

If convicted of all charges they face between 94 years and life in prison.

The Turpin family home in Perris. Picture: Google
The Turpin family home in Perris. Picture: Google

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