Turpin parents will appear in court as donations pour in for their abused children

Posted at 3:14 PM, Feb 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-23 15:14:25-05

The California couple accused of holding their 13 children captive will appear in court Friday as donors from around the world have given more than $500,000 for the recovery of the abused siblings.

David Allen Turpin, 56, and his wife, Louise Anna Turpin, 49, allegedly shackled some of their children to beds in a nondescript Riverside County home that doubled as the private Sandcastle Day School.

But the home school with the inviting name concealed a life of horror and abuse, where the children were beaten and starved, chained to their beds for weeks at a time and allowed to shower once a year, according to Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin.

On Friday, prosecutors and defense lawyers are expected to discuss, among other things, discovery and a date for a preliminary hearing. In addition, an amended complaint is to be filed.

The parents, who lived in Perris, have pleaded not guilty to 37 charges, including torture, false imprisonment, abuse of a dependent adult and child abuse. David Turpin also pleaded not guilty to one count of lewd conduct with a minor.

The Turpins are accused of beating and choking some of their children, who are between 2 and 29 years old. Prosecutors have not alleged the 2-year-old was tortured. The couple allegedly deprived the children of water and fed them small portions of food on a strict schedule.

The 29-year-old weighed just 82 pounds and the other children are so thin they look younger than their ages, authorities said.

The disturbing case has moved people around the world to donate about $570,000 to support the children’s medical expenses and education, according to Erin Phillips, a spokeswoman for the Riverside University Health System.

“In cases like this there are long-term needs like behavioral health, housing, scholarships, educational support, tutors and medical needs,” she said.

A fund launched by the hospital, where the younger siblings were treated, has collected $370,000, including $38,000 from the city of Perris, Phillips said.

A fundraiser started by the Corona Chamber of Commerce has received about $200,000 in monetary donations after collecting enough clothing, hygiene items and toys to meet the immediate needs of the siblings.

“It’s been amazing the outpouring of love and sentiments,” Phillips said. “It reminds us there is so much light in this world in contrast to such a dark case.”

David Macher, attorney for David Turpin, declined to comment on Friday’s hearing.

Louise Turpin’s lawyer, Jeff Moore, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A state court judge last month barred the Turpins from directly contacting their children and other potential witnesses in the case for the next three years.

The Turpins are still in custody. A judge set bail at $12 million for each defendant. The Turpins’ next court date is February 23.

The charges against the couple cover the time the Turpins lived in Riverside County, from 2010 to the present.

The process to terminate parental rights will be determined in dependency court, and birth parents have the right to contest the termination, officials have said.

The horrid living conditions the children were subjected to led one sibling, a 17-year-old girl, to escape through a window of the family home last month. She called 911 from a deactivated cellphone she found in the house. She had planned her escape for more than two years.

The only thing the homeschooled children were allowed to do while in their rooms was write in journals, Hestrin said. Hundreds of the notebooks are being examined for evidence against the parents.