CRUEL ‘DOOMSDAY CULT’ Turpin dad was ‘mythical cult leader who made his wife and 13 house of horrors kids worship him in deeply Christian sect’, lawyer claims

It's not clear what motivated the Turpins to live a secluded life with their large brood or what went on in the house in California

The Sun, UK/January 22, 2018

By Sam Webb

The 13 children who were starved and held captive in a squalid house may have been in a cult, a lawyer has claimed.

David and Louise Turpin were arrested and charged with torture and child endangerment after one of their children - a 17-year-old girl - escaped through the window of their California home and called police.

It's not clear what motivated the Turpins to live a secluded life with their large brood or what went on in the house.

But parents convicted in similar cases exerted control over their children though intimidation, psychological and physical coercion, and frequently possessed their own belief system, claims Attorney Ambrosio Rodriguez.

He said: "They develop a kind of cultish doomsday type of religion where the father becomes this mythical leader and the mother and children's duty is to serve the father."

Rodriguez was a longtime Riverside County prosecutor who sent Jessica Banks, a pastor and mother, to prison for life for beating, starving and drugging her five adopted daughters, who were kept locked in her garage.

Mike Clifford Jr, 30, who lived opposite the family's previous address in Murrieta, California, said he saw the kids marching up and down inside their two-storey house "military style" late at night and thought they were part of "some kind of cult".

"At night time all the kids would walk back and forth on the second storey," he told Sun Online. "We could see them through the windows.

"I'd never see them during the day except I saw two of the sisters go check the mail once.

The Turpin family lived in a property in Rio Vista, Texas, until 2010 - and one neighbour dubbed it "The Religious Compound".

Shelli Vinyard told CBS 11: "I thought it was like a religious compound over there.

Shocking claims made in court last week

  • David and Louise Turpin allegedly began shackling their children with padlocks and chains after one of them escaped from rope ties
  • They would sometimes be chained up for months and were forbidden from showering more than once a year
  • The children were used to frequent beatings
  • Evidence of human waste on the floor indicated the children were prevented from using the toilet
  • The children would be beaten if they washed their hands "above the wrist" because it amounted to them "playing in the water"
  • They were not allowed to play with toys, though many were found throughout the house in their original packaging
  • The kids would be starved while their parents ate well, even taunting them by letting them see apple and pumpkin pies they weren't allowed to have
  • They were made to stay awake all night and sleep all day - often going to bed just before dawn - in a suspected attempt to avoid outsiders witnessing the abuse
  • At one point while the couple lived in Texas, the parents lived in a separate house from most of the children and dropped off food to the others from time to time
  • The children never received dental care, and they had not seen a doctor in more than four years. When the girl who escaped was asked if any pills were in the home, she did not understand what medication was

"They weren't allowed to watch TV. They weren't allowed to have friends over the normal things that kids do," the children's aunt, Teresa Robinette, told NBC's "Today" show.

Individuals held under such conditions often become so physically and emotionally weak "that they are unable to free themselves, even if an opportunity arises," said Dr Allen Keller, who runs the Bellevue-NYU Center for Survivors of Torture in New York.

"The abuser has basically taken complete control of them. It is a state of severe helplessness."

Many victims of abuse suffer from severe depression, anxiety, nightmares and are easily startled in public.

The children were home-schooled, which can deny them social interactions with peers who aren't their siblings and also giving the parents the ability to teach whatever they want.

Perry, who led a team of therapists that interviewed most of the surviving children from the Branch Davidian cult in Waco, Texas, said that one 5-year-old could recite whole books of the Bible but could not identify circles and squares.

Other groups have succeeded in keeping their behaviour secret by enlisting older children in the rearing and indoctrinating of the younger ones. If older siblings participated in the abuse, they would be less likely to call police.

"I've seen this movie before," Rodriguez said.

"It's going to get more creepy and make our skin crawl. And at the end of it, we're all going to be asking the same question: 'How did this happen in front of us and no one noticed?'"

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