California 'house of horrors' shines spotlight on home schooling

David Louise Turpin_FT_Worth_TX_Home_CBS11

Couple accused of chaining up 13 children lived in North Texas

"We feel we've done the best for them while they're here and we hope that that will pay off for them moving forward as they go back out into life someday", Uffer said. David Turpin was also charged with one count of a lewd act on a child under the age of 14 by force, fear or duress.

Valdez said her family had joked the family at that house reminded them of the fictional Cullen family from the "Twilight" book and film series. The D.A. said that some of the children had been formulating an escape plan for two years.

Until the girl fled with photographic evidence, it appears no one, neither neighbors nor public officials, knew anything about what was happening inside.

"From what I can gather, they're both in this eyeball-deep", says Skowron.

A California couple has been arrested for torture after authorities on Monday said their 13 malnourished children were held captive in their home, with some shackled to beds in the dark.

Individuals held under such conditions often become so physically and emotionally weak "that they are unable to free themselves, even if an opportunity arises", said Dr. Allen Keller, who runs the Bellevue-NYU Center for Survivors of Torture in NY. They had very little knowledge of the outside world and were poorly homeschooled. They were fed so rarely that several children have cognitive impairment and nerve damage.

Speaking to ABC News, David Turpin's parents, who live in West Virginia, say, "David and Louise Turpin are considered a good Christian family in their community".

She climbed out of a window to alert police of her and her 12 siblings' dire plight and was so malnourished cops told a press conference she physically appeared more like a ten-year-old. The children, whose ages ranged from two to 29 years, were found shackled to furniture and surrounded by human feces and urine.

"What that 17-year-old girl did was incredible", Rebecca Bailey, a California-based psychologist who specializes in treating trauma survivors, told NBC News.

Louise's brother said that the discovery has shocked him and other family members, who used to think that David and Louise were living the ideal life.

The Associated Press reported Friday that a prosecutor in the case said the Turpins limited their children to one shower a year and one meal a day. "Punishment would last weeks or even months at a time".

Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said the couple had allegedly punished their children by tying them up - first using ropes and later chaining them to their beds with padlocks.

Not many local people could remember much about David Turpin, and even less was available about Louise Turpin.

Vargo said the dogs - a black one named Fluffy and a white one with no known name - bark and wag their tails when they meet people and look pretty happy. That official also told NBC News that the brothers and sisters were only allowed to shower twice a year. She added, "But mainly, I want to reach out to the kids, I want them to know that [for] years we begged to Skype them, we begged to see them".

"We would not say abuse is more common among home-schoolers, but when it does occur, there are fewer safeguards, less to stop it from spinning out of control", CRHE executive director Rachel Coleman told Reuters.

A sister of Louise served with the missionary group Pioneers for Christ, while David was brought up in the Pentecostal faith.

Mercer County residents soon learned Louise and David Turpin were former residents.

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