It was news that shocked the nation: 13 starving siblings held captive in a California home, some chained to furniture, and only rescued after one brave 17-year-old escaped and called 911.
As details have emerged about the Turpin family, the story has gotten more and more bizarre. Neighbors have expressed shock about what the police found in the “very dirty,” “foul-smelling” home. They spoke of their odd — and rare — encounters with the kids who all looked like minors but actually ranged in ages from 2 to 29.
Social media photos from the past showed a large but happy looking family visiting Disneyland and Las Vegas, where the parents — 57-year-old David Allen Turpin and 49-year-old Louise Anna Turpin — renewed their wedding vows at least three times in four years. Then, abruptly, contact with the outside world diminished until the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department entered the home on Sunday.
The childlike appearance of the seven adult children in the home has led to suspicions of years and years of forced malnutrition. The complete lack of calls for help until Sunday has led to theories of deep psychological abuse and manipulation.
Many people have wondered how such a nightmare could have gone on for so long during the Turpin’s time in Texas and their past nine years in southern California. Now Louise’s sister, Elizabeth Jane Flores, is speaking out.
Appearing for an interview on ABC News’ “Good Morning America,” Flores revealed that she had lived at the Turpins for a few months back when she was attending college. She spoke of her disturbing encounters with her brother-in-law David.
“If I went to get in the shower, he would come in there while I was in there and watch me, and it was like a joke. He never touched me or anything,” she recalled, revealing that she didn’t say anything at the time because she was young, scared, and a long way away from anyone else she knew.
“Now I’m an adult and I look back, I see things that I didn’t see then,” Flores said, adding that her brother-in-law and sister were very strict with their kids.
While David’s parents expressed shock at the whole ordeal because they thought their son was parenting a “good Christian family” but admitted that they hadn’t visited in years, Flores’ said her and Louise’s parents had been turned away from visiting. Flores herself was later only allowed to visit David and Louise while standing in their driveway with none of the children present.
As for why family members never said anything to authorities about the bizarre behavior of the Turpins, Flores explained that David and Louise had acted oddly for years, even before they had kids, and were always “real private” people.
Asked if she had a message for her sister, Flores broke down in tears, finally saying, “I want her to know that she’s still my blood and I love her. I don’t agree with what she did, and her actions has made the whole family suffer, but I want her to know that I’m praying for her salvation and that we do love her.”
“But mainly I want to reach out to the kids,” she continued. “I want them to know that [for] years we begged to Skype them. We begged to see them. The whole family. I’ve asked for 20 years to be able to Skype them. I want them to know that they do have family...whether they know us or not...that love them.”
“I’m so proud of her,” she also said of her 17-year-old namesake niece Elizabeth who notified authorities.
Please continue to pray for the 13 siblings as they begin their long road of healing! In other news, an elementary school is experiencing a health crisis after multiple students consumed “laced” candy.