Turpin family: What will happen to children found in ‘House of Horrors’ now?

The Turpin family appeared like any other on social media. That is until police found the 13 children captive in their “House of Horrors”. What will happen to them in the future?

Daily Star, UK/January 22, 2018

By Ariane Sohrabi-Shiraz

David, 57, and Louise Turpin, 49, would post pictures of themselves on social media with their 13 kids.

The photos would show a happy family celebrating birthdays and even visiting Disneyland.

The family appeared close, often hugging and smiling with matching haircuts and T-shirts.

On Sunday, January 14 one of the Turpin kids managed to escape their hell by climbing out a window and calling the police – and officers were shocked at what she had to say.

The 17-year-old told police that her 12 siblings were currently being held prisoner inside the home in Perris, California.

The kids appeared “malnourished and very dirty” – and several of them were shackled to their beds “in dark and foul-smelling surroundings”, said the Riverside Country Sheriff’s Department.

The statement continued: “All 13 victims, ranging from the age of two to 29, were transported to the Perris Station and interviewed.

“Both parents were detained and transported to the station for further investigation.”

The couple have now been charged with torture and child endangerment – to which the parents pleaded not guilty.

Shocked cops were told the kids were allowed only one meal a day, and two showers a year.

The road to recovery and integration into society will be long and difficult – and trauma experts are divided over their prospects.

What will happen to the children in the future?

There are divided opinions on what the future holds for the children who escaped alleged parental abuse.

The children who were “starving” have been safely placed in the hands of California’s medical care.

The “malnourished” siblings, aged between two and 29, are receiving vitamins and antibiotics in the Corona Regional Medical Center and the Riverside University Health System medical center.

Mark Uffer, Corona Regional Medical Centre CEO, said: “It’s hard to think of them as adults.

Dr Roshini Raj, associate professor of medicine at New York University, said it would take a long time before they reach a healthy weight.

“But it can be done,” she added.

The road to recovery will be long for the “stunted and pale” siblings who appear to have cognitive issues and nerve damage.

The alleged mistreatment, which prosecutors claim included choking, could have severe psychological effects on the victims.

When cops freed the Turpins from the “House of Horrors”, they believed all 13 to be minors, because they appeared so small and frail.

This is despite the fact that seven of them are technically adults.

“When you see them, they’re small. They’re stable. They’re being fed.”

The confused siblings were puzzled by concepts such as the police or medicine.

Susan Curtiss, a linguistics professor at the University of California, believes the children need unconditional love and support and to be kept together.

She said: “They are emerging from their own horrible world to a world they know nothing about. One thing they do know is each other. That’s the only constant other than their own parents.”

Curtiss recommended a small team of carers for the siblings’ integration into society to go as smoothly as possible.

She said: “The same one or two people should be there all day every day, touching them softly, a loving, gentle presence… to lead them into society.”

Curtiss appears sceptical about the prospects of the children – having witnessed inadequate foster homes and bureaucratic in-fighting in previous high-profile cases.

She added: “I have no confidence in any of the governmental systems.

“There probably will be a tug of war because this is the kind of situation that can make people famous.

“Many people want to be well known and publish papers… that’s what they’re after.”

Dr Frank Ochberg, a psychiatrist and pioneer in trauma science, thinks the Turpin siblings could suffer from complex post-traumatic stress disorder.

He continued: “We can assume that there could be depression and nightmares.”

However, he was optimistic the siblings would be able to recover in the future if they are separated from their parents.

He added that giving “them a chance to have normal, new family members is a big plus.

Dr Ochberg said: “While there can be a number of complicated and interrelated medical, social and psychological disorders, there have been amazing and heartwarming examples of people who are survivors.”

Nora Baladerian, a clinical psychologist and licensed counsellor, said different treatment options would have to be evaluated.

She said: “They may not have any idea what normal is. They may not know that one does not normally live chained.

“It’s going to be a huge, long-term adjustment just in daily living.”

Many trauma experts believe that keeping the siblings together is the best option.

John Fairbanks, co-director of the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress said: “Worry, guilt, and fears may be exacerbated with the ‘not knowing’ and ‘not seeing’ their siblings.

“Giving their reported experiences, there is little reason for these children to trust an adult who tells them their siblings are all OK.”

Amy Hellman, director of foster care and adoption at the Children’s Bureau, believes the next short step for the children will be foster care.

The foster care parents may end up adopting them in the long run.

She said: “When there are serious allegations of child endangerment, most likely child protective services will recommend a fast track to adoption.

“However, there are times where the court may not want to make that ruling until it’s further on in the criminal case.”

Keeping the siblings together long term could prove to be difficult, especially due to their varying ages.

Hellman said: “Throughout the country, there is a real need for families to step forward to become foster parents.

“There’s even a greater shortage of families that have the ability to take on siblings.”

There is also an issue of the parental rights, which will be determined in court.

If the parents’ rights are terminated they will have the right to contest – which could take 18 months.

It is not known whether David Turpin’s elderly parents would be able to provide oversight and care for the children and adult victims.

Their attorney, Paige Flanigan said they “want to be very involved in trying to assist in placement”.

Mike Hestrin, the district attorney, said it is not decided where the children may end up.

He said: “We’re going to do everything we can to assist them through our victims’ services division, and hopefully they’ll be cared for throughout this process.

“They’re relieved, I’ll say that. They’re in good hands.”

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