PERRIS (CBSLA/AP) — The grandparents of 13 starved and tortured children say their son’s family looked happy and healthy when they last visited California six years ago.

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“They were just like any ordinary family,” said Betty Turpin, the 81-year-old mother of David Turpin. “And they had such good relationships. I’m not just saying this stuff. These kids, we were amazed. They were ‘sweetie’ this and ‘sweetie’ that to each other.”

Betty Turpin and her husband James Turpin of Princeton, West Virginia visited her son’s family for five days at their previous home in Murrieta.

Betty Turpin told the Southern California News Group on Wednesday that they are still in shock from learning that her son and his wife were arrested this week, their children, ages 2 to 29, found malnourished with some in shackles.

David and Louise Turpin, jailed on $9 million bail each, are expected to make their first court appearance on Thursday, and could face charges including torture and child endangerment, authorities said. Prosecutors plan to announce the charges at news conference.

Betty Turpin said her son told her he had so many kids because God wanted him to. She said her son shared her Pentecostal Christian faith but he wasn’t affiliated with a church in California.

“I feel they were model Christians,” she said. “It’s hard to believe all of this. Over the years, the Lord knows what happened.”

James Turpin said during their visit, “they all looked to me well-adjusted. They weren’t skinny or nothing. They were joyous to see us.”

He said they were dealing with social workers in attempting to connect with their grandkids, who are hospitalized as they recover from their years-long ordeal.

On Wednesday, authorities searched the couple’s current home in Perris, 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles, where one of the daughters, a 17-year-old jumped out the window and called 911 on Sunday. Investigators removed dozens of boxes, what appeared to be two safes and pieces of a bed frame.

Some siblings were shackled to furniture in the foul-smelling four-bedroom home that looked perfectly normal from the outside.

The Turpins have lived in two Riverside County communities since moving to California in 2011, and police said they were never called to either home, nor were any reports fielded by child protective services.

The new owners of the Texas home where the Turpins previously lived released yellowed photographs of what they found after the large family vacated the property, which had been foreclosed. The photos showed beds tied together, boarded up doors, smashed windows, and even covered vents.

It’s not clear what motivated the Turpins to live a secluded life with their large brood or what went on in their Perris house. Nor is it clear why the teen girl fled when she did, breaking a silence that had likely lasted years.

turpin family vegas wedding They Were Just Like Any Ordinary Family: Grandparents Of 13 Starved Children Shocked

A photo of the Turpin family at one of the couple’s Las Vegas wedding vow renewal ceremonies.

Psychiatrists say that even in cases of extreme deprivation, it’s common for feelings of helplessness or confusion to lead to staying in place despite opportunities to flee.

“This happens all the time. The number of individuals who would immediately respond to an opportunity where they could get away is very small compared to the number of people who would have that paralysis and insecurity and confusion about what to do,” said Dr. Bruce Perry, a psychiatrist and senior fellow at The ChildTrauma Academy in Houston.

The vulnerable girl might have been shamed, beaten or threatened with violence and only after many missed opportunities did she probably work up the courage to act, Perry said.

“It’s pretty remarkable that she’d do that,” he said. “The power that must have been exerted to keep an entire family like that for so long must have been pretty sophisticated.”

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (38)
  1. “… model Christians…”? Maybe a defective model, but hardly Christian…

    1. Mike Arvand says:

      Exactly. But this is CBS. never miss an opportunity to bash Christianity.

    2. Elena George says:

      So true.

      Not model Christians. Model crazy ppl.

      1. WOW! Right wing fundiychristians reveal their amazing lack of reading comprehension and 6th grade skills!
        They article isn’t OPINION YOKELS, it’s QUOTING this guys mother!
        Jeeeez. THIS is why nobody respects the christian cult, blatant stupidity and dishonesty!
        A tragic and horrible story, you apparently don’t care about the abused and tortured children, just your perceived “insult”
        great morality!

  2. Jack Webb says:

    I guess moving to California will do that to a body. Aren’t they all pretty much nuts out there?

  3. Rikki Doxx says:

    Well here will come the Christian bashing groups. If it was a Muslim family it’d be disregarded as “it’s their thing”.

  4. Nancy Carr says:

    Model Christians???? Hardly. Mentally ill? Yes.

  5. …and all the heads of The Central Banks are model Jews? Every damn chance you get. Cut the cra.!

  6. Normal family? I guess they forgot to look at the family. They are all genetic little freaks!

  7. Anne Tenney says:

    Pseudo Christians, maybe but certainly not practicing Christians. Who knows what kind of show they put on for the grandparents or what kind of threat the children were under during the visit. This did not happen over night.

  8. so are terrorist described as …….”well, geeze, he seemed the model Muslim”
    the filthy MSM never miss a chance to bash Christians

  9. Mark Joslin says:

    Devils in Christian clothing, that’s all this is. Remember, even Lucifer can quote scripture for his own purposes. These “people” need to be locked up, chained to some furniture, and starved for the rest of their lives.

  10. I don’t think the grandparents of these whackos are qualified to say what is a model Christian since they raised the wacko to be this way. Muslims have their whack jobs, such a ones doing the “honor” killings and the ones castrating females…oh, wait,..thats not considered whacko to them.

    1. I find it disgusting that any of you would think that real Christians would do such a thing. When people who claim they are Christians do this kind of horrific stuff other Christians will denounce such sick, satanic behavior…so NO this is NOT the CULTURE of Christianity. Yet you same Christian bashers don’t bat an eye when muslims perform female genital mutilation, throw acid in women’s faces and shoot up gay bars because hey, it’s their CULTURE. And when one muslim does these heinous acts the rest of the muslims DO NOT denounce this behavior, but applaud it. You Christian bashers are just as sick as the parents of this family, reveling in the your self proclaimed “righteousness” of perversion.

  11. Gene Easley says:

    this would make a great horror movie

  12. Mike Morgan says:

    Shows a lack of understanding of Biblical Christianity.
    1. We’re all sinners.
    2. Our “model” is not other sinners, it’s Christ.
    If you doubt this, reread Paul’s Letter to the Galatians…

  13. Ricky Nelsun says:

    I KNEW IT !!!! I KNEW IT!!!! I KNEW IT!!!! I KNEW they were religious fanatics!

  14. Paul Roberts says:

    “Pentecostal Christian faith” David and Louise Turpin Pentecostals? No, They did not even attend a Church. True Pentecostals follow the Bible, and would not be Monsters like these horrible excuses for human beings. Christians do not treat anyone like they treated their kids. They are Monsters!

  15. Came here from Drudge. Went to for more real California news.

  16. Sean A Foltz says:

    Pentecostal aren’t real Christians – more like a cult – these freaks have been in the news a couple of times for insane behavior.

  17. The Grandmother and other relatives seem to be telling the truth. Judging by the photos made public, they seemed to “present” as a normal family. In the Disney and wedding photos the children appear thin and small, not emaciated. The whole thing is so sad and troubling on so many levels my mind wants to refuse to accept this a real story. But it is real.

    For those that choose to blame politics or religion on this tragic crime, shame on you. To point, judge and blame only makes matters worse and is not helpful to anyone.

  18. anim8ormatt says:

    well. she raised the monster that perpetuated this atrocity. I’m not surprised she didn’t see a problem.

  19. Darren Davis says:

    I want somebody to show me where in the New Testament this type of “parenting” is preached by Jesus Christ or his disciples. It ain’t there. These demons were of their father the Devil, and they have destroyed 13 other humans lives.

  20. Tommy A says:

    Freeking white people. How do you 6 years without seeing your grand kids?

  21. tngilmer says:

    Proof that the apple does not fall far from the tree. These grandparents are just as crazy as the parents.

  22. Joe Wray says:

    lock up the gps with the other idiots.

  23. Nothing “ordinary”, Nor “Christian”, About ‘Herman’s Hermits’.

  24. Samuel Green says:

    They should save this grandmother a front row and center seat in the courtroom during the trial of these stuck on stupid nut jobs.

    If God showed up during the trial, his presence would be only to make sure these lunatics never get out of prison.


  26. Lauren Adams says:

    Gary Reynolds couldn’t be more predictable if he tried.

  27. This did happen in California, need I say more?

  28. Vox Veritas says:

    California Democrats are capable of unspeakable horror. They probably torture and kill children even before they’re born.

  29. Steve Frank says:



    This is a coordinated ATTACK against HOME SCHOOLING.

    The “authorities” are lying.

    Don’t you think it’s odd that the parents are EACH being held on 9 Million dollars bail??? Isn’t it odd that there are plenty of pictures of the entire family on outings???

    Never trust anything out of California. The rouge state.

  30. bulliedfor50 says:

    Yes, right now, at this moment, there are other children being treated the same way, and yet nobody knows it. And nobody knows it because the so called parents are dressing them nicely, and taking nice photographs, and keeping the kids “clean”, so society doesn’t even blink when they see Stepford Wives (Stepford KIDS) in their own neighborhoods.

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