Turpin family: Horrifying conditions the 13 siblings allegedly lived under revealed

Children were allegedly punished for washing hands and taunted with food they could not eat

Turpin family in court plead not guilty

As they announced charges that could send David and Louise Turpin to prison for life, prosecutors described a gruesome years-long nightmare of allegedly imprisoning, beating and psychologically tormenting their children.

The charges included: 12 counts of torture; 1 count of lewd act on a child against Mr Turpin; 7 counts of abuse of a dependent; 6 counts of child abuse; and 12 counts of false imprisonment. If convicted on all counts, they face 94 years to life in prison. While the Turpins have 13 children, prosecutors said they were not charging them for treatment of the youngest, a 2-year-old.

Both Turpins pleaded “not guilty” to all charges in a brief court appearance on Thursday.

Below are some of the allegations that Riverside District Attorney Mike Hestrin described at a press conference.

They were shackled with ropes and then chains

Initially, the children were bound with ropes — but when one escaped, the parents began to use chains and padlocks, Mr Hestrin said, often not freeing the children to use the bathroom.

“These punishments would last for weeks or even months at a time,” he said.

When not chained to beds, he alleged, the children were locked away in separate rooms.

The parents set out toys and food they couldn't eat

Many of the children appeared to severely malnourished, with a 29-year-old weighing a mere 82 pounds, Mr Hestrin said.

But the parents would tempt them with food, including setting out pies that they could not eat.

Similarly, the house was strewn with toys still in their packaging despite evidence that the children were never allowed to play with toys, Mr Hestrin said.

David and Louise Turpin renew their wedding vows at Elvis Chapel in 2013

They were punished for washing their hands too much

One of the behaviours that could incur punishment — which could include beatings and strangulation in addition to being chained up — was when the children washed their hands above the wrists, which would lead the parents to accuse them “playing in the water,” Mr Hestrin said.

Hygiene for the children was poor, Mr Hestrin said, with the parents allowing them to shower no more than once a year.

They were deprived of medical care

It appeared that none of the children had ever been to a dentist, Mr Hestrin said, and that they hadn’t been taken to a doctor in more than four years.

*They had little knowledge of the outside world*

The family homeschooled its children and adhered to a schedule of sleeping all day and being active all night, Mr Hestrin said, helping to limit their contact with others.

As a result, they appeared to be ignorant about the world outside their alleged prison. Asked whether there were medications or pills in the house, one sibling evidently did not know what either one was; it seemed possible they “didn’t know what a police officer was,” Mr Hestrin said.

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