An amended complaint was filed Friday listing new charges against a Perris couple accused of abusing, imprisoning and starving 12 of their 13 children.
Last month, David Allen Turpin, 56, and Louise Ann Turpin, 49, were 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 was additionally charged with one count of lewd acts on a child under 14 years old.
A revised complaint submitted by Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Kevin Beecham adds three more child abuse allegations against both defendants, and an assault charge against Louise Turpin alone.
Prosecutors did not immediately disclose the reasons for the new counts against the Turpins, who are 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.
Superior Court Judge Emma Smith certified the complaint and scheduled another felony settlement conference for March 23, as well as a tentative May 14 date for a preliminary hearing that will determine whether there’s sufficient evidence to warrant a trial on all or some of the charges against the defendants.
Their children, 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 have been barred from having any contact with them until the case is resolved.
District Attorney Mike Hestrin last month characterized the alleged mistreatment inflicted by the parents as “horrific,” describing how the victims endured “severe neglect that intensified over time.”
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.
Louise Turpin’s younger sister, Teresa Robinette, related in various media interviews that while she and other members of the family knew nothing of the alleged abuse, she believes it may have begun after the couple began drinking and “experimenting” with an unconventional lifestyle, including regular trips to Las Vegas and plans for Louise Turpin to sleep with another man, Robinette said.
The alleged abuse of the kids involved choking and beatings, according to Hestrin, who said the punishments worsened, particularly after the family moved to California. He noted that the children were initially bound with ropes, but when they figured out how to escape from such bondage, the couple allegedly switched to chains and padlocks, denying the victims bathroom access.
The siblings were allowed to shower once a year, and if they washed their hands above the wrist, “they were accused of playing in the water and they were chained up,” Hestrin told reporters.
He 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 family was reportedly preparing to relocate to Oklahoma, which may have prompted the defendants’ 17-year-old daughter to escape the home and seek help.
The girl got out 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. She told dispatchers her 12 brothers and sisters 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 in 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.
–City News Service
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