A neighbor who lived next to the alleged abusive Turpin couple in Texas, opened up about his suspicions of abuse, which reportedly happened years before the family moved to California, including an incident in which one of the children tried to run away, only to be returned back to her parents.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Ricky Vinyard lived next to David and Louise Turpin, and at the time, their eight children in small town south of Fort Worth. Vinyard said the Turpin family moved to the area in 2000 and almost immediately, he felt something was off.
“When they moved in, they were really mysterious people. They didn’t talk to us or socialize,” Vinyard told the LA Times.
His suspicions about the family began to grow after the Turpin parents reportedly bought eight bicycles for the children, but the kids didn’t use the bikes even once. According to Vinyard, the new bikes sat in the same spot outside for so long that the sun bleached them.
Vinyard indicated one of the older girls somehow escaped from the Turpin home, where the family was known to keep their shades drawn-up shades but lights on at all times at night. Yet, according Vinyard, another neighbor returned the girl back to her parents and didn’t follow up or call authorities.
“As time went on, it got worse and worse,” Vinyard said, describing how the Turpin’s home began overflowing with trash to the point they moved into a doublewide trailer on the property.
Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, stated on Saturday that there were no records of any complaints against the Turpin family. When questioned why he didn’t report his suspicions, Vinyard said that he made the decision with his wife not to get involved since David Turpin, who allegedly stood in his yard and fired shots toward a nearby road, was armed.
“We discussed it and we didn’t want to have the repercussions with them,” Vinyard said, before admitting he now feels guilt for not saying anything sooner.
Vinyard’s daughter, 19-year-old Barbara, said she got to play with the Turpin children on a rare occasion, but they would never tell her their names. The Turpin parents apparently forbade the kids from playing with Barbara after she tried to guess their names.
“We had to guess them basically, and the kids didn’t like that either. The next time we saw them walking down the street, one sibling said to the other, ‘We can’t talk to them anymore, remember?’”
Barbara recalled hearing the kids playing outside one evening, so she took her jumprope over to play with them. She still clearly remembers one the sibling’s reactions after she knocked on the door of the trailer on the Turpin’s property.
“Her eyes just got real wide. She closed the door back in my face. She came around the back, looked at me and then ran back away into the house, through the back door.”
It was the last time Barbara reached out to the siblings. The Turpin family later moved to California, reportedly leaving behind a ton of filth and trash, with deceased dogs and cats mixed in the debris.
Chained to their beds for weeks at a time. Showered once a year. Beaten and starved. Life for the Turpin family's 13 children was one of extreme horror and abuse, officials say https://t.co/u23qMzRRmy pic.twitter.com/XaxX5cM3SN
— CNN (@CNN) January 19, 2018
As CrimeOnline previously reported, David and Louise Turpin have been officially charged with “torture, child abuse, abuse of dependent adults and false imprisonment,” per Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin, who held a press conference on Thurs. David Turpin faces an additional charge of “lewd act on a child by force.”
The official charges include:
- 12 counts of torture
- 12 counts of false imprisonment
- 7 counts of abuse against a dependent adult
- 6 counts of child abuse/neglect
- 1 count against of a lewd act on a child (David Turpin)
During the press conference, Hestrin indicated that one of the children, a 12-year-old child, had the weight of a 7-year-old. The couple’s oldest child, a 29-year-old daughter, weighed 89 pounds. All of the children, aside from the youngest, a 2-year-old, suffered from severe malnutrition. Several of the children were diagnosed with cognitive impairment and nerve damage (neuropathy).
“Punishment would last weeks or even months at a time,” Hestrin said.”This is severe, emotional, physical abuse; this is depraved conduct.”
Some of the children reportedly told authorities that their parents began tying them up years ago. The parents reportedly used ropes at first to tie up the children, then began using padlocks and chains when the victims learn how to escape confinement from the ropes.
Punishment came for minor things, according to authorities. For instance, if the children washed their hands above their wrists, they were accused of playing in the water in turn, chained up.
The Turpin parents apparently allowed their children to keep journals, which according to Hestrin, have been confiscated for evidence and information.
Hestrin said now that the victims are out of their parents’ home, medical professionals are taking care of them. It’s still unclear where the victims will ultimately end up, but earlier reports indicated that they’ll go into the custody of social services once they’re released from the hospital.
“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.”
Both David Turpin and Louise Turpin remain behind bars on $9 million bond each. They’re scheduled to appear for an arraignment on Thursday afternoon. Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.
[Feature Photo: David and Louise Turpin/Police Handout]