Parents of 13 malnourished children in California charged with years of torture, abuse

PERRIS, Calif. -- The parents of 13 malnourished children found in alleged captivity in Southern California have been charged with committing years of torture and abuse and could face up to life in prison.

Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin announced the charges against 57-year-old David Allen Turpin and 49-year-old Louise Anna Turpin at a press conference Thursday.

They were charged with 12 counts of torture. David Turpin also was charged with a lewd act on a child by force or fear of duress.

"This is severe, emotional, physical abuse. This is depraved conduct," Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said.

Of the victims, Hestrin said: "They're relieved. ... Their health is being looked at. They're in good hands. As far as where they're going to end up, I don't know."

Other charges include seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult, six counts of child abuse or neglect and 12 counts of false imprisonment. Hestrin did not say whether both suspects face the last three sets of charges.

The Turpins each pleaded not guilty on all counts when they were arraigned Thursday afternoon. A judge set bail at $12 million for each defendant, who were represented in court by public defenders. The Turpins' next court date is February 23.

If convicted of all charges, they could face a maximum sentence of between 94 years and life in prison.

Authorities say the situation came to light early Sunday when a 17-year-old daughter climbed out a window of their home, called 911 and showed deputies photos that substantiated her story. Deputies found some of the children chained to furniture when they entered.

**Continuing coverage**

The grandparents of the children say their son's family looked happy and healthy when they last visited California six years ago.

Betty and James Turpin of Princeton, West Virginia, say they were in shock when they learned of the arrest of their son David Turpin and his wife, Louise Turpin this week.

They told the Southern California News Group that their grandchildren all called each other "sweetie" when they visited their home in Murrieta, California six years ago, and none of them appeared malnourished.

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