Thirteen lives wrecked

A horrific story of child abuse:

A Southern California couple are in custody after one of their daughters called 911 and led authorities to their home on Sunday. There, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department says it found 12 of the teen’s siblings inside, including “several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings.”

Of the 13 siblings living at the home in Perris, Calif., officials say six were under the age of 18. The siblings ranged in age from 2 years old to 29, and the daughter who sought help was 17 — though when law enforcement officers met with her, “she appeared to be only 10 years old and slightly emaciated.”

Six kids and seven young adults, all abused for their entire life and trapped in a dysfunctional home. What could drive the parents to commit such unforgivable neglect and torture of their kids? Take a guess.

David Turpin’s parents, James and Betty Turpin of West Virginia, told ABC News that they were “surprised and shocked” at the allegations because their son and daughter-in-law were “a good Christian family.” They said they had not seen the family since visiting California four or five years ago.

Of course they were good Christians. It takes religion to foster that degree of fanaticism and ignorance.

Their neighbors had only a vague notion that they might have had any kids — and they had that many, for so long. Those poor children were subject to horrible environmental deprivation for a damaging length of time. You know there had to have been hints that something unusual was going on with this family — the father’s parents are just playing dumb — and that all the aberrant behavior was concealed under a cloak of weird religious beliefs.


  1. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says


    And yeah, you’d think the grandparents would be wondering what’s up with their 29-year-old grandchild after all those years.

  2. says

    They visited 5 years before, too. The 29 year old did not shrink to the size of an emaciated ten year old in that span of time.

  3. Matrim says

    It was the 17 year old that was so poorly cared for that they appeared 10. But the point still stands. No way they went from fine to this in less than 5 years. This sort of behavior is something that doesn’t just happen.

  4. chris says

    This is what happens when you treat children as property, and not a person who needs loving care. These quotes from the police department spokesman in that article are chilling:

    “the parents were unable to immediately provide a logical reason why their children were restrained in that manner.”

    “It seemed that the mother was perplexed as to why we were at that residence,”

    I guess to them it was normal to shackle your offspring, even if they are adults and should be off living their own lives.

  5. blf says

    Re @2 & “Quiverfull theology”: Yes, the article in the Grauniad also suggests that is the case, California police rescue 13 chained and malnourished siblings:

    [The grandparents] described the family as extremely religious and said the parents had so many children because they believed “God called on them” to do so. They added that the children were expected to memorise long Bible passages as part of “very strict homeschooling”.

  6. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    In the link in timgueguen’s post, there’s a picture of the family with everyone (including the parents) wearing matching “Thing 1” “Thing 2” etc. shirts. For anyone with fond memories of Dr. Seuss those can be cute, but in this case you get the feeling that that’s how the parents saw them.

  7. says

    What needs to be asked is not why they did this, so much as why there was no inspection (including unannounced inspection) of their “school”. Is that lack of inspection typical of homeschools? If so, what other cases might be out there awaiting discovery?

  8. says

    The idea that parents have special authority over kids, is a really bad one. There ought to be some kind of “kids rights” – oh, wait, it’s “human rights” isn’t it!? Kids are humans.

  9. says

    The idea that parents have special authority over kids, is a really bad one. There ought to be some kind of “kids rights” – oh, wait, it’s “human rights” isn’t it!? Kids are humans.*

    The US is the only country that hasn’t ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This is due to the actions of the Religious Right, homeschooling movement, etc., which invoke stupid ideas about US exceptionalism and argue that parents have special authority over kids. There’s an organization that grew out of the Convention and monitors children’s rights around the world (including in the US, despite its refusal to ratify). They sometimes report on children’s brave and inspiring protest movements to have their rights recognized.

    * (Non-humans also have rights.)

  10. rietpluim says

    And all of a sudden they are not good Christians, but bad Christians, or not even Christians anymore.

    Notice how “good” and “Christian” always go together?

  11. thirdmill says

    Parents have special authority over their children because parents have special responsibilities toward their children. Parents are required to feed, clothe, house, protect from harm and danger,see to their medical needs, and provide an education to their children. In order to do that, they need special authority.

    But the only two options are not that children are either property or parents have no authority.It is possible to say — and the law does say — that special authority does not extend to starving, beating, or chaining children to furniture. And it’s also possible to have home schooling — which in theory I’m not opposed to — while at the same time saying that children should be periodically tested to be sure their home schooling is indeed providing them with an adequate education. The problem isn’t with special authority or home schooling; the problem is the lack of oversight.

  12. quotetheunquote says

    Totally appalled at what people get up to, in the name of their religions. Of course, the physical and psychological damage these evil creeps have done to their children is the worst of it, but what also bothers me is the self-righteousness of these parents – I’ve no doubt at all that they were (and probably still are) absolutely convinced that they were fine, morally upstanding individuals.

    OT, I suppose, but not really – according to the Executive Branch, it’s not “good Christian” crime and child abuse you have to worry about, no – rather, you should be worrying about those awful furriners bringing in crime and child abuse…

    (Isn’t there something in their holy book about dealing with the “beam in your own eye…” before criticizing others?)

  13. says

    thirdmill @ #15 – Good points, all, but to be clear I think a concept of ownership was implied (it certainly was on my part) in the reference to “special authority.”

  14. says

    Captain Jeep-Eep

    *eyeroll* Not where I was going with that, but thank you.

    No. Stop and consider for a moment.

    You have to go through all kinds of hoops to adopt a kid. Background checks, home visits, making sure the home is safe for kids, that the parents aren’t going to abuse them. You know, all that stuff.

    I simply think that ALL prospective parents should have to go through the exact same screening and approval process.

    Fair’s fair.

  15. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    I simply think that ALL prospective parents should have to go through the exact same screening and approval process.

    Enforced how?

  16. says

    Adopted kids get abused too, even though their parents go through all those checks. There are terrible christians who adopt kids and abuse them, like a whole lot of them.

    Disabled parent’s wouldn’t be allowed to have kids, they already take them from them, even when things are fine. Pretty sure it would depend on which group in power.

    Kind of like why it’s bad to mix religion in government because then whatever religion rose to power gets to make the rules, and that is usually bad.

    Consider who would be making the rules about who could reproduce, especially with who is in power right now. I think they would definatly try to limit anyone of a race or religion or lack of onethey don’t care for from having children.

    We do need to do better by children’s rights, but I’m pretty sure that breeding licences won’t fix it.

  17. says

    #19 – in what way, in this world of racial gerrymandering and ableism does it makes sense to give bureaucrats and the politicians their marching orders the option of forcing groups not to reproduce by law?

    Aside from that… I’m reminded of my homeschooling days. I was in a secular group. There was a running joke ‘Mommy, I know what Christian Homeschoolers are: They’re people who beat their kids!’

  18. snuffcurry says

    Since it’s your hypothetical, WMDKitty, explain how that would work (forced sterilization? confiscating newborns from working class and single-parent households and underage parents? licenses for people planning to engage in PIV sex?) and what it’s meant to solve, addressing obscurefox’s point that pre-existing screenings don’t generally meet good, ethical standards in this country, are not even applied fairly, and certainly don’t prevent child abuse.

    *eyeroll* Not where I was going with that, but thank you.

    *eyeroll* Unintended consequences matter and your modest proposals can be rigorously interrogated here without your permission, no thank you.