In an eerie coincidence, the California town rocked by allegations that 13 children were found shackled and starving in deplorable conditions, was the location of a similar scandal nearly two decades earlier.
Speaking with WJW, Laura Cowan recalled how police rescued her and her two children from a Perris home in 1998. When learning of the story, she said she drew several parallels between the Turpins and the trauma she suffered years earlier.
“It’s similar to my own story: 13 children being held captive like that, in the same location in Perris, and also the same sheriff’s department that rescued us, rescued them,” Cowan said.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Riverside County police arrested David and Louise Turpin last week after their 17-year-old daughter reportedly escaped from their filthy Perris home and called for help. Police accused the couple of starving and shackling their 13 children to furniture.
In Cowan’s case, it was April 1998 and she was dating a man who had 13 children. Refusing to let her leave, the boyfriend locked Cowan and her two children in a garage–where they remained for six months.
The quick-thinking mother managed to get help when her captor took her to the post office to pick up a certified package. It was then that she slipped a postal worker a letter that she had secretly written while her abusive boyfriend was distracted.
“She [the postal worker] looked at me and I looked at her and I was shaking, and I reached under my dress, I pulled my dress up in front of her and I pulled that letter out and I put it on the counter. The next day, she got help for us. It went to the sheriff’s department and they came and rescued us,” Cowan told WJW.
WJW reported that the boyfriend was ultimately sentenced to seven consecutive life terms for the monthslong ordeal.
Now a domestic violence advocate, Cowan said that she and her children went through years of intensive therapy since the ordeal. She believes that the Turpin siblings would benefit from the same.
She said, “Thank God for that 17-year-old girl. She reminded me of myself, you know, when I slipped that letter. She got that cell phone and she went out that window and she called for help.”
Meanwhile, David and Louise have pleaded not guilty to multiple charges. They remain jailed on $12 million bail.
[Featured Image: Laura Cowan/WJW video screengrab]