A Riverside County judge Wednesday issued a protective order barring a Perris couple from having any further contact with the 13 children they're accused of mistreating, torturing most of them by keeping them chained, dirty and malnourished for years.
David Allen Turpin, 56, and his wife, Louise Ann Turpin, 49, were charged last week with more than three dozen felonies in connection to alleged inhumane treatment of their offspring, seven of whom are adults with diminished mental capacity.
The order prohibits the Turpins from communicating with the victims through electronic, telephonic or other means. Protective orders are standard in criminal matters to shield alleged victims from contact with defendants, who might otherwise affect their ability to testify. The siblings, whose ages range from 2 to 29, are in the care of county Child Protective Services and Adult Protective Services staff.
The county is seeking custodial rights over them. The Turpins are charged with 12 counts each of torture and false imprisonment, as well as six counts of child abuse and seven counts of cruelty to a dependent adult. David Turpin is additionally charged with one count of lewd acts on a child under 14 years old. They're each being held in lieu of $12 million bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside and are facing 94 years to life in state prison if convicted.
District Attorney Mike Hestrin last week characterized the alleged mistreatment inflicted by the pair as "horrific," describing how the 13 victims endured "severe neglect that intensified over time."
"All of the victims are severely malnourished," Hestrin said. "The 29-year-old female (victim) weighs 82 pounds. They were fed very little on a schedule."
According to Hestrin, the alleged prolonged harm to the victims and their captivity left them physically and cognitively damaged.
"Many of the children didn't know what a police officer was," he said. "They didn't know what medication was for."
Hestrin acknowledged that while the abuse was extreme, there's no evidence the Turpins had an intent to kill. But the D.A. was tight-lipped as to a possible motive. He alluded to a pattern of behavior that pointed to the defendants' gratification from manipulation.
"The parents would buy food for themselves and not allow the children to eat," Hestrin said. "They would bring home apple pies and leave them on the kitchen cabinet for the children to see but not have."
Louise Turpin's younger sister, Teresa Robinette, contended in various media interviews that while she and her siblings knew nothing of the alleged abuse, she believes it may have begun when the once-clean-living couple began drinking and "experimenting" with a wild lifestyle.
That lifestyle included regular trips to Las Vegas and even plans for Louise Turpin to sleep with another man -- with her husband's blessing, Robinette said. The alleged abuse also involved choking and beatings, according to the D.A., who said the punishments worsened, particularly after the family moved to California, noting that the children were initially bound with ropes, but when they figured out how to escape from such bondage, the couple switched to chains and padlocks, denying the victims bathroom access.
The children were allowed to shower once a year, and according to Hestrin, if they washed their hands above the wrist, "they were accused of playing in the water and they were chained up."
Hestrin said the victims were "relieved" to be out of the house on Muir Woods Road and are now in "good hands." According to sheriff's investigators, the family moved to Murrieta in 2010, then to Perris in 2014. They had previously resided in Fort Worth, Texas. The Turpins' single-story home has remained ground zero of investigative and media activity since the Jan. 15 revelations about what allegedly happened there.
The defendants' 17-year-old daughter escaped the home by jumping through a window shortly before 6 a.m. on Jan. 14, carrying a deactivated mobile phone with which she was able to dial 911, according to sheriff's Capt. Greg Fellows.
The girl told dispatchers her 12 siblings were in need of help, and when deputies arrived, she presented them with photographs documenting conditions inside the residence, the captain said. Fellows said three children were found chained to furniture inside the residence.
The couple were not charged with torturing their 2-year-old, who appeared to have been properly fed. The lewd acts charge against David Turpin stems from his alleged molestation of one of the girls. State records show the residence was designated Sandcastle Day School, with David Turpin listed as the principal.