PRINCETON – Grandparents in Mercer County were working to contact their grandchildren Tuesday morning after learning about how police had found them malnourished and living in filthy conditions at their California home.
Police went Sunday to the home of 57-year-old David Allen Turpin, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, in Perris, a community approximately 70 mile southeast of Los Angeles after a 17-year-old juvenile called them and found 12 other children being held in filthy conditions. They were shackled to beds with chains and padlocks, investigators with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department told the Associated Press.
James Turpin, who lives in of the Princeton area with his wife, Betty, spoke briefly with the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. He said that he planned to call authorities in California as soon as the time change allowed and try to contact his grandchildren. He said David Turpin was his son.
"We don't know any more about this than what I've seen on the news," James Turpin said. "I haven't even been able to talk to them yet. We're waiting for the time change."
David Turpin grew up in the Green Valley area and moved away when he finished at Virginia Tech, his father said.
"He was a fine person," James Turpin recalled. "He did an outstanding job and worked in school, and the last time we were out there was about six years ago. The kids were fine. They were healthy and nothing was wrong."
David and Louise Turpin would take the family on vacations to places like Las Vegas and would send photographs to his parents after the trips, James Turpin stated.
"I cannot understand," James Turpin said of the situation. "I'm going to talk to the kids as soon as they let me. I'm getting ready to make a call."
James Turpin referred additional comments to his attorney.
Attorney Paige Flanigan with the Flanigan Law Office said she was been working with the Turpins. They had tried to contact Child Protective Services in California, and Flanigan was attempting to contact California CPS workers on their behalf.
"Their primary concern is their grandchildren," Flanigan said.
Paige Flanigan later issued a statement on behalf of the family.
"James and Betty Turpin had no knowledge of the allegations that have been made regarding this matter other than what has been seen in the media," according to the statement. "Mr. and Mrs. Turpin learned of (Monday's) events through the media and have no information regarding the allegations as they have been unable to speak to their son, daughter-in-law or grandchildren. James and Betty respect and understand the role of the media, but would ask the media to respect their family's privacy at this time as they deal with this difficult situation as their focus is solely on the safety of their son and grandchildren."
After the teenager contacted authorities, investigators learned that several children were shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings, but the parents were unable to immediately provide a logical reason why their children were restrained in that manner, according to a press release from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. 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. 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. Child Protective Services (CPS) and Adult Protective Services (APS) arrived to assist in the investigation. The victims were provided with food and beverages after they claimed to be starving, according to the sheriff's department.
The six children were eventually transported to the Riverside University Hospital System (RUHS) for medical examinations and admitted for treatment. The seven adult children were transported to Corona Regional Medical Center for an examination and admitted for medical treatment.
David and Louise Turpin were each being held on $9 million bail and could face charges including torture and child endangerment.