Filth and scratch marks around Turpin family's former homes


The California parents accused of starving and torturing their 13 children had dogs in their home that appeared to be well cared for, officials say.

As a result of malnourishment, the 12-year-old child was the weight of an average 7-year-old while the oldest, a 29-year-old woman, weighed just 82 pounds, he said.

The couple would also frequently beat and strangle the siblings as punishment, he said, and they apparently bought food for themselves and then let the siblings look at it but not eat it.

A pair of surprisingly healthy and well-trained Maltese terriers that once belonged to David and Louise Turpin are being put up for adoption.

The couple appeared in court on Thursday charged with 12 counts of torture, 12 of false imprisonment, six of child abuse and six of abuse of a dependant adult.

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The children would stay awake all night until going to sleep at four or five in the morning and slept during the day. Several children even had cognitive and nerve damage from the abuse, he said.

But two 1-year-old puppies in the home were found in remarkably good condition.

Three of the siblings were chained at the moment police arrived at the house Sunday, Hestrin said. Only the 2-year-old and the couple's two dogs appeared to have been properly fed, he said. Numerous children did not know what a police officer was, for example, and the 17-year-old who called to report the abuse did not know what pills or medications were upon police questioning. The seven older siblings were taken to a different hospital. Mike Clifford, the family's neighbor, told ABC News that he would come home from work at midnight and see the children marching single-file for hours.

The Anderson family, who moved into one of the homes in Fort Worth after David and Louise Turpin lost their home due to foreclosure in 1999, told CBS Dallas-Fort Worth that they found scratches on the doors and floors covered with grime from their previous owners.

Betty and James Turpin of Princeton, West Virginia say they were in shock when they learned of the arrest of their son David Turpin and his wife, Louise Turpin this week.

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David Turpin is listed in a state Department of Education directory as the principal of Sandcastle Day School, a private K-12 school that he ran from the house.

"This is an ongoing investigation", Hestrin said.

It was described in official records as a non-religious and co-ed institution with six students enrolled.

What the children were allowed to do was write in journals, hundreds of which are being examined by police.

Now, the community is gathering together to show the Turpin children that they have support.

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The Turpin's next court date has been set for February 23.