Starvation, torture, psychological abuse, and imprisonment in chains. Those are among the many accusations coming out of the household where 13 siblings were allegedly held captive for years by their own parents. Yet the oldest male sibling was allowed to frequently attend community college classes. Why did he never contact authorities?
That’s the question many people are asking, and it’s not an easy one to answer. Mt. San Jacinto College, about half an hour away from the Turpin’s Perris, California home, confirmed his enrollment there over the course of six semesters.
His mom, Louise, would drive him to the school, sit outside his classes, and then take him immediately home. He’s believed to be 26, Time reports.
Classmates described him as “always quiet and alone.” Classmate Marci Duncker said his face was “one of the most sad faces I’d seen in years.” Other classmates said he “never wanted to make eye contact with anyone,” had “this kind of depressive aura about him,” looked malnourished, and would eat like a starving person when offered food.
Despite his home situation, and despite the fact that doctors are saying that his siblings have suffered cognitive damage from being malnourished for years, the oldest Turpin boy was a star student. He received almost straight As in his classes and was on the president’s honor roll two years ago.
Yet there’s no indication he ever spoke to a faculty member or classmate about the horrific things being reportedly done to his siblings at home. By all indications, he was the only sibling let outside of the prison-like house on a regular basis since the time when the 29-year-old oldest daughter attended grade school in Texas.
International Association of Trauma Professionals trainer Gale Kelley explained, “They were born into this. This was normal for them. Some of them may not even realize they’ve been abused. These children have been living in isolation so they only know what they know.”
Time noted that abused children — and young adults, too, in this case — are often told to keep quiet about the abuse and made to believe they deserve it.
Kelley continued, “We don’t know what kind of duress they were under as far as threats. They’re still seeing the world through the eyes of a scared little kid who is in constant danger.”
Los Angeles Department of Child and Family Services medical director Dr. Charles Sophy also explained why an abused child may not attempt escape, according to Inside Edition.
“No matter what we say to a child or tell them how bad their parents were or they see how bad or dangerous their parents were, they love them and want them,” he said about taking kids out of terrible situations.
Elizabeth Smart, who herself endured years of torture after being kidnapped, recently explained how escape is not as easy as it sounds. In Smart’s case, she was frequently brought out in public in disguise in the same city she went missing from yet never broke free on her own from her two captors.
“When you're in a situation where you're being highly manipulated, where you're being tortured, where you’re being hurt, and especially for these children — these adult children who have been abused and tortured and manipulated probably their whole life — it isn’t just as easy as jumping in the car and driving away. Your brain does not think that way,” she said.
Smart continued, “Speaking as one who has been physically chained up, and as one who has also been held by chains of manipulations and threats, I will tell you every day of the week that the chains of manipulation and threats are so much stronger than actual, physical chains.”
Please pray for the 13 siblings as they struggle to start a new life. In related news, Dr. Phil explained more why the siblings may want to return to their parents.