California couple David Allen Turpin and Louise Anna Turpin, who allegedly held their 13 malnourished children captive inside their home, pleaded not guilty to torture, child abuse and false imprisonment, according to CBS News. The pair appeared in court on Thursday, January 18, and faced 12 counts of torture, seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult, six counts of child abuse or neglect and 12 counts of false imprisonment. David was also charged with one count of lewd act on a child. If found guilty, the pair will serve 94 years to life in prison. Bail is set at $12 million per defendant, according to CBS News.
The case began on Sunday, January 14, when a girl, 17, escaped the residence and called 911 from a cellphone she obtained inside the house, CNN reports. She told the authorities that her siblings were “being held captive inside the residence by her parents and further claimed some of her siblings were bound with chains and padlocks.”
Officials rescued 13 people total, ranging in age from 2 to 29. According to the Riverside County Sheriff’s department, the individuals were “shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings.”
David, 57, and Louise, 49, allowed their children to shower once a year and fed them rationed meals each day, District Attorney Mike Hestrin confirmed during a press conference on Thursday. A woman, 29, who was held captive, weighs only 82 pounds, while one 12-year-old weighs as much as the average 7-year-old child, Hestrin revealed.
“They would buy food, including pies, apple pies, pumpkin pies, leave it on the counter, let the children look at it but not eat the food,” Hestrin said.
David’s mother, Betty Turpin, told the Southern California News Group on Wednesday, January 17, that she was shocked by what her son and his wife were doing. “They were just like any ordinary family,” Betty, 81, said. “And they had such good relationships. I’m not just saying this stuff. They were ‘sweetie’ this and ‘sweetie’ that to each other.”
The couple’s next court date is set for Friday, February 23.
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