On Tuesday, we learned what life was like for the oldest Turpin family boy, who was allowed to attend classes at a community college but stood out because of his bizarre behavior. Now on Wednesday, a former classmate is describing what the oldest Turpin daughter was like when she was in grade school in Texas and how horribly she was treated by the other kids.
New details emerge daily in the case of 13 siblings whose parents are being accused of starving, torturing, and imprisoning them throughout their lives. David and Louise Turpin are facing 75 charges of endangerment, abuse, and torture after they were arrested at the Perris, California home on Jan. 14.
Shockingly, seven of the 13 Turpin siblings are adults, even though they look like children. The oldest is 29 and is reportedly named Jennifer. Taha Muntajibuddin, a Houston pediatrics resident doctor who says he went to school with her in Fort Worth from kindergarten through third grade, recently gave a heartbreaking account about her young life, according to NBC News.
In a lengthy Facebook post, Muntajibuddin said Jennifer was the “cootie kid” in every class she was in at Meadowcreek Elementary. Her classmates made fun of her for her dirty, frail appearance and the fact that she always seemed to wear the same, filthy dress. They also mocked her for the way she smelled.
Police say the Turpin siblings were only fed once a day, allowed to shower once or twice a year, and tied up or chained as a form of punishment, sometimes for weeks or months at a time without access to a bathroom. For a number of years since Jennifer was in public school, it appears David and Louise were homeschooling their kids as a way to keep them isolated from society.
“I distinctly remember my entire third grade class scoffing at her one day because our teacher had asked her to discard a scrunchy she had used to tie her hair out of a discarded tin foil wrapper from an old Hershey's bar,” Muntajibuddin wrote.
He said believes that he and the other kids that bullied Jennifer did so, in some way, to try to get her to be normal like the rest of them. It’s a behavior he now deeply, deeply regrets.
“I can't help but feel an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame,” Muntajibuddin expressed after learning about the nightmarish life Jennifer continued to have.
“Of course, none of us are responsible for the events that ensued, but you can't help but feel rotten when the classmate your peers made fun of for ‘smelling like poop’ quite literally had to sit in her own waste because she was chained to her bed,” he continued. “It is nothing but sobering to know that the person who sat across from you at the lunch table went home to squalor and filth while you went home to a warm meal and a bedtime story.”
Muntajibuddin said there’s a huge lesson for him and others to learn here: “Teach your children to be nice. If you see someone that's isolated, befriend them. If you see someone that's marginalized, befriend them. If you see someone that's different, befriend them.”
He added that despite the bullying and the troubles at home, Jennifer was “one of the most pleasant people I have had the opportunity to meet” and was full of “whimsical optimism.” Twenty years later, he’s “rooting for her.”
“Befriend the Jennifer Turpins of the world.”
We’re rooting for her — and all her siblings — too. In related news, here is how one classmate described the oldest Turpin son in college.