We've talked a lot about famous monsters, in Hollywood and in politics. But most of the irredeemable, vile people who prey upon the innocent and ruin lives are not famous at all. They're people whose homes you pass every day without realizing that anything's wrong.
Well, in a particularly gruesome case, a California couple has been arrested for allegedly keeping 13 people chained and padlocked, surrounded by absolute filth.
Some were adults, some were minors. Reports claim that all 13 victims were their children.
In an announcement with a header reading "Torture / Child Endangerment," the Riverside County Sheriff's Department issued a shockingly grim explanation of why it had arrested David and Louise Turpin.
"Early Sunday morning on January 14, 2018, a 17-year old juvenile escaped from her residence situated in the 100 Block of Muir Woods Road, Perris and managed to call 911 from a cellular device she found inside the house."
We don't know how she managed to escape, but it was incredibly brave. And so was contacting the police.
"The teenager claimed her 12 brothers and sisters were being held captive inside the residence by her parents and further claimed some of her siblings were bound with chains and padlocks."
Countless people who are being abused fear that no one can or will help them, or that they won't be believed. Sometimes, they're right. But this time, her courage paid off.
"When Police Officers from the Perris Police Department and Deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department met with the juvenile, she appeared to be only 10 years old and slightly emaciated."
Malnutrition can make people look frighteningly young, as well as doing permanent damage to their bodies.
Obviously, no one is publishing photos of this girl or any of her siblings and fellow victims, but even in photos from years ago, pictures that David and Louise saw fit to publish on social media, reveal a gaggle of alarmingly gaunt children with visibly emaciated features.
"After a brief interview with the female, they contacted 57-year old David Allen Turpin and 49-year old Louise Anna Turpin at the residence where the teenager escaped. "
Even with what the detectives had been told, it sounds like they weren't truly prepared for what they saw.
"Further investigation revealed several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings."
Like everyone else, investigators wondered why in the world parents would do such a thing.
"The parents were unable to immediately provide a logical reason why their children were restrained in that manner."
Child-abuse is tragically commonplace, but the extremes of this house of horrors weren't the only things that made the Turbin household unusual.
"Deputies located what they believed to be 12 children inside the house, but were shocked to discover that 7 of them were actually adults, ranging in age from 18 to 29."
Like the 17-year-old who appeared to be 10, apparently chronic deprivation had stunted their physical development.
"The victims appeared to be malnourished and very dirty. Perris Station Detectives were dispatched to the residence for further investigation."
"All 13 victims, ranging from the age of 2 to 29, were transported to the Perris Station and interviewed."
"Both parents were detained and transported to the station for further investigation."
Yeah, we'd imagine so.
"Child Protective Services (CPS) and Adult Protective Services (APS) arrived to assist in the investigation."
On their own, CPS workers have very little power to protect children, relying upon courts and police. But their testimony about the state of being of the children and the house could prove invaluable at trial.
"The victims were provided with food and beverages after they claimed to be starving."
All seven children were taken to a hospital, as were the six adult children who were captives.
"Both parents were interviewed in this matter and subsequently transported to the Robert Presley Detention Center (RPDC)."
For now, we can only imagine how that interrogation went. How does a detective keep their cool, we wonder, in the face of such evil?
"They were booked for violations of California Penal Code Section 206–Torture and Section 273a(A)–Child Endangerment."
Are you horrified by what you've read about this couple? it sounds like the judge was, too.
"Bail was set at $ $9,000,000.00 each."
We're sure that more details will come out, with appropriate levels of sensitivity for the survivors. We hope that all 13 children can recover.
Physical recovery will be hard; emotional and psychological recovery may take a lifetime.