Westwood Horizon

13 Captive Children Rescued From California Home

By Sara Momin, Assistant Editor

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Imagine being shackled in your room. The handcuffs painfully rub into your dirty wrists after years of torment, caked with dust, urine, and other unimaginable substances. You lie there on the floor, nothing to do except for staring at unopened food, torturing your empty stomach. Although you have done nothing, you are the subject of frequent harsh beatings, scars lining your whole body. This painful situation sounds like something from a war prison, but unfortunately, this torture was all too real for 13 children living in a highly abusive home in Perris, California. The captive siblings, aged 2 to 29, were stuck in their California home for years until one of their siblings, who was 17 years-old, escaped and informed the police on Jan. 14. After two years of planning, she escaped and used a deactivated cell phone to call the police and show pictures of her sibling’s conditions. Officers rushed to the scene and arrested David and Louise Turbin, the parents of the 13 children. Those same officers are now investigating the household, and as they release new information, we can finally get an idea of what horrors these children had to face.  

The news of the harsh starvation hit hard for those listening around the country, especially for the responding officers and paramedics. The 17 year-old who first escaped was so thin that officers assumed that she was actually a 10-year-old. Her 12 year-old sibling has the average weight of a 7-year-old.The eldest child, who is 29 years old, weighs only 82 pounds After the paramedics brought them to the hospital, they asked for donations since the children had come with no clothes or belongings, and revealed that the clothes they need are almost all in children’s sizes. As officers learned more about the conditions, they learned that the children were the only ones starving. Both David and Louise had more than enough to eat, and often, they would leave unopened food in front of the children to torture them. Through all of this, the only silver lining seems to be that the youngest sibling, a 2-year-old, wasn’t starved or tortured, and looked healthy to paramedics.

The other shocking thing officers discovered were the other various other conditions inside the house. The children were only allowed to shower once a year, and if they washed their hands above their wrists, they were beaten or strangled. They were chained for months at a time, and they weren’t allowed out of their chains to go to the bathroom. The only thing the children were allowed to do is write long scriptures of the Bible as their ‘homeschooling”. They had no knowledge of the outside world, and when the responding officer asked the 17-year-old if there were prescriptions in the house, the officer stated that she didn’t even know what medicine or prescriptions were.They would come out at night, and even then, it was only a few times each year to mow the overgrown yard, or put up decorations. Neighbors had reportedly seen them rummaging in trash cans, possibly looking for food, and marching single file between their upstairs rooms. The horrors continue in their Fort Worth home as well. The children tried to befriend their neighbors and run away, but the parents found out, and forbid them from talking. One of their neighbors reported one of them saying to the others as they passed by each other on a street “We can’t talk to them anymore, remember?” As trashed piled up on the lawn and inside the house, the house was foreclosed and the family were forced to move to California. When another family bought the house, they discovered dead cats and dogs inside the bathroom, whose floor was rotted all the way through.

The source of all of this pain was David and Louise Turbin, the parents, and the abusers of the tortured children. They are charged with 12 counts of false imprisonment and torture, seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult, and seven counts of child abuse. David Turbin is also accused of committing a forced lewd act against one of the 14-year-olds. When they were arrested, officers claimed that both of the parents were “surprised”, and they pleaded “not guilty”. When asked for an explanation, the couple alleged that the “sadistic” treatment towards their children was an element of control. The sister of Louise Turbin, Elizabeth Flores, admitted that there was concerning behavior when she lived with the family two decades earlier. He sister wouldn’t allow her to call other friends or family, or allow her eldest daughter to speak without permission. Both Louise and David would watch the daughter shower, however Louise insisted that David never touched her.

As the children try to recover, both physically and mentally at the Corona Regional Medical Center, the officers marvel at the bravery of the 17 year-old. Reading through the hundred of journals left behind by the children at the scene, officers hope to find enough evidence to give both parents a life sentence. Shocked neighbors, from both Texas and California also share their support, wondering what could have happened if they had reported the parents previously. Support pours from all over the world for the recovering children, along with the shared disgust of the abusive parents. With the sheer amount of money and clothing donations coming in, the Corona Regional Medical Center asked donors to donate to their foundation so that the siblings aren’t taxed. They hope that with the money, the siblings can finally live a normal life, something that the tortured children have never been able to do.

1 Comment

One Response to “13 Captive Children Rescued From California Home”

  1. Anne on January 25th, 2018 2:02 pm

    Sadness. Anger. Shock. How could they in all good conscience treat their own or anyone’s children like that? It’s so strange that the only thing I can relate it to would be mental illness. I hope these two never, ever see any of these kids again. Don’t care if its from behind bars and they become remorseful, they should lose total contact with them and let loving, sane foster parents take over completely.

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