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House of Horrors: Tortured Turpin kids slowly providing valuable information to investigators

Investigators have learned that the children were isolated from each other and locked in different rooms in small groups

By AMY TAXIN and MICHAEL BALSAMO, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The California children who authorities say were tortured by their parents and so malnourished that their growth was stunted are slowly providing valuable information to investigators, a prosecutor told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

“Victims in these kinds of cases, they tell their story, but they tell it slowly. They tell it at their own pace,” Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said. “It will come out when it comes out.”

David and Louise Turpin are accused of abusing their 13 children — ranging from 2 to 29 — before they were rescued on Jan. 14 from their home in Perris. They have pleaded not guilty to torture and other charges and are due in court later Wednesday as prosecutors ask a judge to bar them from contacting their kids.

FILE–In this Jan. 18, 2018, file photo, defendants Louise Anna Turpin, left, with attorney Jeff Moore, and David Allen Turpin, right, with attorney Allison Lowe, appear in court for their arraignment in Riverside, Calif. More than $120,000 has been donated to help 13 siblings in California who authorities say were kept chained to beds for months by their parents, the Turpins, and starved so much that their growth was stunted. (Los Angeles Times/Gina Ferazzi via AP, Pool, file)

All of the children remained hospitalized and were relieved to be out of the home that authorities have described as a torture chamber, Hestrin said.

Deputies arrested the husband and wife after their 17-year-old daughter climbed out a window and called 911. Authorities found the siblings in the family’s filthy home, with three of them shackled to beds.

Investigators have learned that the children were isolated from each other and locked in different rooms in small groups, Hestrin said.

FILE–In this Jan. 18, 2018, file photo, neighbor Liza Tozier, and her son, Avery Sanchez, 6, drop off his large “Teddy” as a gift for the children who lived on a home where police arrested a couple accused of holding 13 children captive in Perris, Calif., More than $120,000 has been donated to help the 13 siblings who authorities say were kept chained to beds for months by their parents and starved so much that their growth was stunted. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, file)

The children did not have access to televisions or radios but were able to read and write and expressed themselves in hundreds of journals that were seized from the home, the district attorney said.

“It appears to me that they lacked any kind of understanding about how the world worked,” Hestrin said.

One of the older boys had taken a variety of classes at Mt. San Jacinto College, a community college, but his mother took him to the campus and waited outside class for him, Hestrin said. The college confirmed that one of the Turpins had been a student but refused to provide additional information, including some that is generally releasable under federal privacy laws.

Earlier this week, Louise Turpin’s half-brother, Billy Lambert, told several news organizations that she had aspired to have a reality television show focusing on their large family. But Hestrin said investigators have uncovered no evidence indicating the couple was seeking media attention or a show.

Authorities are asking anyone with information about the case to call 1-888-934-5437.

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Taxin reported from Santa Ana.