Parents accused of shackling, torturing their children appear in court

Author: CBS News
The Turpin family dresses as “Things” from Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat.” Photo from CNN

A couple accused of shackling and torturing their 13 children in a so-called “house of horrors” in Southern California were in court briefly Friday as one of their family members looked on from the audience, CBS Los Angeles reports. David and Louise Turpin faced a judge, mostly as a procedural update of the case’s status ahead of their preliminary hearing on May 14.

For the first time since their arrests in January, the Turpins appeared in court without shackles on their hands or feet.

During the brief, five-minute hearing, the Riverside County Counsel, which represents the couple’s 13 children, handed over two boxes of evidence that contain information about the seven adult children and six juveniles. The information was submitted under seal.

Louise Turpin’s sister Liz Flores attended the hearing but refused to answer any questions from CBS Los Angeles.

The station has confirmed that the seven adult children have been released from the hospital and are living together under supervision. They are mostly confined to the property and must be accompanied if they leave the premises.

As for the six minors, sources not authorized to speak on the record told CBS Los Angeles they have also been released from the hospital and are living in two separate foster homes, seeing each other often.

In January, the couple’s 17-year-old daughter escaped from the home, telling authorities about the conditions under which she and her 12 siblings were being held.

Investigators arrived at the home and discovered the couple’s children had, in fact, been shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks.

The Turpin children, who range in age from 2 to 29, were so malnourished, police initially believed some adults were minors.

The parents have since been charged with more than 40 counts, including torture, false imprisonment, abuse of a dependent adult and child abuse. In February, they each faced three additional charges of child abuse. Louise was charge with another count of felony assault.

They have both pleaded not guilty to all the charges, including one count of lewd conduct with a minor against David.

Earlier this month, YouTube videos of the 17-year-old girl who escaped the home surfaced. In them, she performs made-up songs that include the lyrics “You blame me for eveything / I don’t understand” in what appears to be the Perris house.

David and Louise Turpin are being held on $12 million each.

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