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Parents who shackled, starved children get life sentences

by Lynde Langdon
Posted 4/19/19, 04:31 pm

A California couple who for years starved a dozen of their children and kept some shackled to beds were sentenced Friday to life in prison. Police in Perris, Calif., arrested David and Louise Turpin in January 2018 after one of their daughters escaped the home and called 911 for help. The Turpins claimed to be homeschooling their children at the house in suburban Los Angeles, where neighbors said they saw no signs of abuse. But when deputies arrived, they found a 22-year-old son chained to a bed and two girls who had just been set free from shackles. Most of the 13 children, who ranged in age from 2 to 29, were severely underweight and had not bathed for months. The house was covered in filth and filled with the stench of human waste. The parents pleaded guilty in February to neglect and abuse. They will be eligible for parole after 25 years.

Some of the children, who were not identified by name, spoke at the sentencing hearing Friday. “Life may have been bad, but it made me strong,” one daughter said. “I fought to become the person that I am. I saw my dad change my mom. They almost changed me, but I realized what was happening. … I’m a fighter. I’m strong, and I’m shooting through life like a rocket.”

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Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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  • Ann Marshall
    Posted: Mon, 04/22/2019 10:14 am

    How sad that the notion we must all "mind our own business" should have prevented this gross form of abuse from being discovered and stopped. Years ago, when this family lived in Texas, one of the older girls attended public school. Her classmates remember she looked thin and pale, had only one outfit to wear, and smelled unwashed. The condition of the house when they moved away proved definitively the children were not being properly cared for. No one intervened at that point and so the abuse went on years longer. Horrifying.

  •  Deb O's picture
    Deb O
    Posted: Mon, 04/22/2019 03:09 pm

    Absolutely agree. We as Christians and Americans want our independence from state interference but there are definitely times the state (representing all of us) must step in.

  • Narissara
    Posted: Tue, 04/23/2019 11:50 am

    I agree — this family was not legitimately homeschooling.  It was an excuse to stay out from under the watchful eye of law enforcement and social services.  Speaking as a homeschooling veteran, it is not a betrayal of fellow homeschoolers to turn families like this (if they even associated with other homeschooling families to begin with — and I suspect they didn’t).   

    The parents were engaging in criminal activity that needed to be stopped — first and foremost for their children’s sake, but also to maintain a free society.  Ignoring crime until there’s a particularly heinous instance usually ends up restricting freedoms for law-abiding citizens as well.