Captive siblings limited to one meal a day, one shower a year

David Louise Turpin_FT_Worth_TX_Home_2_CBS11

California Couple Accused of Torturing 13 Children Used to Own 'Horror House' in Texas

David and Louise Turpin have both appeared in court, accused of holding their 13 children in shackles at their California home.

Prosecutors have said the siblings, who are aged from two to 29 and are now being cared for by a special medical team, were subjected to very bad living conditions. The parents allegedly deprived the children of water and fed them small portions of food on a strict schedule.

Elizabeth goes on to claim that she prayed to God that her husband "couldn't sleep, eat, or do anything without thinking about me" and he later returned home with the kids and they patched up their marriage.

The 17-year-old daughter who raised the alarm told cops she was terrified they would kill her if she got caught.

District Attorney Mike Hestrin said in a press conference, "As a prosecutor, there are cases that stick with you, that will haunt you". "Sometimes in this business we are faced with human depravity".

David Turpin's lawyer, Deputy Public Defender David Macher, had only begun to investigate the allegations but said the case was going to be a challenge. The Southern California couple is charged with torturing and starving 12 of their 13 children over a prolonged period of time. If they are found guilty, they could spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Neighbor Kimberly Milligan said one of those rare encounters occurred in 2015 and especially stood out.

Sharon Ontiveros, 63, stopped by the house with her 3-year old granddaughter, who left a stuffed animal with dozens of others on the front walkway.

But many a time they are paralyzed by fear of retribution - and not just for themselves. "They immediately shut down".

"We've limited the type of physicians that go in to see them", Uffer told ABC News. They would then be hogtied when they tried to escape.

James Turpin, the children's' grandfather, said from his home in Princeton, West Virginia, that he did not believe the reports about the abuse.

Hestrin said the only entertainment the children had was writing in journals and authorities had recovered hundreds of journals which are being checked for evidence of how the siblings lived.

They were allegedly punished when they washed their hands above their wrists, and beaten regularly, according to the prosecutor.

They couldn't play with toys that were kept in the closet, still packaged. The girl, 17, had planned the runaway attempt for two years.

Officers said they found three of the couple's 13 children, who range in age from two to 29, shackled with chains and padlocks inside the dark, foul-smelling residence. When officials rescued the kids, all but the baby showed severe signs of malnutrition, including stunted growth.

All the victims except for the toddler are severely malnourished, Hestrin said, adding that the eldest victim - a 29-year-old woman - weighs only 82 pounds. "The 2-year-old ... was getting enough to eat".

Captain Fellows said the investigation had so far found no indication of sexual abuse, but that the conditions amounted to torture.

The Turpins each face charges including 12 counts of torture and 12 counts of false imprisonment, seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult and six counts of child abuse. David Turpin also pleaded not guilty to one count of lewd conduct with a minor.

David and Louise Turpin were each ordered held on $12-million USA bail after entering their pleas Thursday and were scheduled to return to court on February 23. "Our clients are presumed to be innocent, and that is a very important presumption". And now, Child Protective Services is assessing their next possible steps.

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

Lambert added he last saw the children in 2002.

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