Contrasted with the increasing horror coming out of daily revelations about the nightmarish life that 13 siblings were reportedly subjected to is the heroism of one 17-year-old girl who brought the years of torture to end.
After revealing many gut-wrenching details about what it appears daily life was like in the southern California home, Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin spoke with ABC News and praised the bravery of the young escapee.
The unnamed 17-year-old reportedly had been planning her escape from the Perris home for two years, along with the help of her siblings — ages 2 to 29 — as conditions worsened. The evidence and testimonies collected so far suggest that the children and adults lived a life of starvation, imprisonment, beatings, psychological abuse, torture, and isolation from the outside world. Brutal punishments for minor infractions appear to have frequently involved chaining young offenders up for weeks or even months without access to a bathroom — all allegedly at the hands of their parents, 57-year-old David Allen Turpin and 49-year-old Louise Anna Turpin.
But on Sunday, one teen girl changed the life of her siblings forever after she slipped out a window with a stolen cell phone and dialed 911. Authorities, neighbors, and relatives were horrified at her report about what was going on the home.
Hestrin explained, "It took great courage for her to do that after all those years, and that's all she knows. She obviously has the personality that she's going to risk herself for others and she did that and she managed to get out. And we're very glad that she did. I don't know how long this would have continued and I don't know what the end result would have been."
"To think she mustered the courage under those circumstances, maybe it is a testament to the human will and the will to survive," he continued.
During the Thursday press conference, Hestrin admitted to reporters that the process of unraveling these torturous events has weighed heavily on him. It’s made manifest in his mind the depths of “human depravity.”
"It feels like a bottomless pit. We don’t know where the bottom is,” he told ABC News.
"You’ve got parents that are torturing their children, causing them pain, causing them suffering over a prolonged period of time through malnourishment, through physical abuse, through psychological abuse. It's horrific. It's hard to believe that it happens in today’s society, but it does," he expressed.
Hestrin said he felt that the parents’ “sadistic” actions toward their own children were a way of maintaining complete control of their lives. Along those lines, outside influences were not allowed past the home’s prison-like walls.
"The only thing the children were allowed to do in their room or chained up was to write in journals,” Hestrin reveals during the press conference, telling ABC News that the hundreds of journals have created a body of "powerful evidence about what was happening from the perspective of the victims."
David and Louise are facing numerous charges of child abuse, abuse of dependent adults, false imprisonment, and torture. During a court hearing on Thursday, they both pleaded not guilty. More charges could be brought to bear as the investigation continues.
David’s lawyer spoke to ABC News as well, telling them, “What we would like the public to know is that our clients are presumed to be innocent and that’s a very important presumption. We’re going to provide a vigorous defense.”
One of Louise’s sisters has spoken out about what it was like living in one of the Turpin’s homes for a few months, and kidnapping-victim-turned-activist Elizabeth Smart is offering insight for the public and encouragement for the victims.
Please pray for these children as they embark on a new life of hope and healing! In related news, the former Texas neighbors of the Turpin family are opening up about the bizarre behavior they witnessed over a decade ago.