Turpin family latest: Dead dogs and cats found inside couple's abandoned home, reveals former neighbour

'We discussed alerting authorities but we didn't want to have repercussions with them'

Ryan Butcher
Monday 22 January 2018 18:36
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Turpin family in court plead not guilty

The parents accused of shackling and torturing their 13 children, left their former home "waist-deep in filth" and strewn with the bodies of dead dogs and cats, a former neighbour has revealed.

David and Louise Turpin were arrested at their home in Perris, California when their 17-year-old daughter escaped from a window and called the police.

Investigators found a number of the children shackled to beds with chains and padlocks.

It has since emerged that the couple moved to California in 2011, from the Texan city Rio Vista, where they lived in a four bedroom house on a 36 acre property.

They lived there from 2000 until the house was foreclosed 11 years later.

Neighbour Ricky Vinyard said he walked through a double-wide trailer on the property, which the family is believed to have moved into after trashing the main house which he said was "waist-deep in filth".

"There were dead dogs and cats in there," he told the Los Angeles Times.

He added that he found two Chihuahuas on the property which had survived by eating waste from discarded soiled nappies heaped in the family's Ford F-150 truck.

"It seemed like that's all they ate," he said, adding that the living room in the main house that had been fashioned into a makeshift classroom and was covered in faeces and excrement.

"Everything had locks on it: The closet had locks, the toy chest, the refrigerator," he added."There were no beds, just mattresses. There wasn't a place in that house that wasn't filthy."

Mr Vinyard also said that the Turpins kept the lights on and the blinds drawn at all hours at the home, adding that one Christmas they bought eight new children's bicycles but left them outside, unused, until they became sun bleached.

It has also emerged that after the family arrived in 2000, one of the older girls tried to escape but was eventually returned by a local resident.

A deputy was called to the house in 2001 when the Turpins' then four-year-old daughter was bitten in the face by the family dog, which led to the girl receiving stitches in hospital and the dog being taken to a veterinarian to be put down, according to police reports.

Mr Vinyard's uncle also called the sheriff when three pigs belonging to the Turpins got loose in 2002, but Mr Vinyard said that he and his wife decided not to alert authorities about their suspicions of abuse.

"We discussed it and we didn't want to have repercussions with them," Mr Vinyard said, citing that he would often see David Turpin in his driveway shooting cans with a pistol, aiming towards the road. I feel really guilty we didn't."

Before moving to Rio Vista, records show the family lived 50 miles away in Fort Worth, Texas, between 1990 and 1999.

However, Patrick Crimmins, of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, said that his agency had no record of investigations concerning the Turpins.

After the Turpins left and the house was foreclosed, it was bought by Billy Baldwin and his mother as a rental property.

Mr Baldwin told ABC Ne.ws the condition of the house was "just nasty" with "all kinds of stuff" over the walls and carpet, with the bathroom floor "totally rotted out".

The trailer that Mr Vinyard described had been removed by the time Mr Baldwin purchased the property.

The Turpins have pleaded not guilty in Riverside County, , to multiple counts of torture, child abuse, abuse of dependent adults and false imprisonment after their children, aged two to 29, were rescued from their home in .

David Turpin, 56, has also been charged with one count of a lewd act on a child by force.

If convicted, he and his wife Louise, 49, face up to 94 years to life in prison. They are being held on bail of $12m (£8.6m) each and are due back in court on 23 February.

The children were exclusively home-schooled, except for the eldest, meaning that there did not need to be any outside contact with them under Californian law.

As more details about the case have emerged, Californian politician Jose Medina has begun drafting legislation to give greater oversight of home-schooled children to prevent anything like this from happening again.

"What happened in the city of Perris was tragic and it was horrific," he told The Telegraph. "And I would like to try to do everything I can to ensure that it doesn't happen again.

"One of the reasons this went undetected was because the parents could keep the children hidden from the public."

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