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Penniless and homeless: Turpin siblings' nightmare continues, years after 'house of horrors'

A conservatorship is preventing the Turpins from accessing nearly $600,000 in donated funds, thereby leaving them on the brink of homelessness
UPDATED NOV 21, 2021
David and Louise Turpin locked their 13 children indoors and abused them for years (Facebook)
David and Louise Turpin locked their 13 children indoors and abused them for years (Facebook)

New details have emerged about the 13 siblings who were rescued from a 'House of Horrors' in California three years ago, but have since been failed by a social service system that was supposed to give them a new lease on life.

The Turpin siblings were aged from two to 29 when they were rescued from horribly abusive conditions that saw them being locked indoors for years, shackled to beds, and starved by their parents David and Louise Turpin for years before they finally staged a daring escape in 2018 and contacted police. According to a report by ABC 7 on Friday, November 19, Riverside County has hired a private law firm to look into allegations the seven adult and six minor children in the Turpin family were not rendered the basic services they needed after being rescued from their parents' prison-esque household.


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The report stated that a conservatorship is allegedly preventing even the adult Turpins from accessing nearly $600,000 in donated funds, thereby leaving them on the brink of homelessness. Meanwhile, there is another criminal probe into a foster family suspected of mistreating several children, including one of the Turpins. However, a lawyer representing the family has strongly denied the allegations.

Melissa Donaldson, Riverside County's director of victim services, said some of the children reported they "felt betrayed" by the local officials who handled their cases. According to Donaldson, there were times when the children did not have a safe place to stay or sufficient food to eat. The adult children were reportedly thrust into "couch surfing" at times and prevented from accessing their $600,000 trust by a court-appointed conservator.


29-year-old Joshua Turpin told ABC 7 that the conservator in the public guardian's office had brazenly denied his request to use some of the funds to purchase a bike as he had no other form of transportation. Donaldson broke down in tears as she described how the children, who had little or no contact with the outside world while held captive by their parents, were left on their own to try and work through a complex bureaucracy. "When the case first broke, I obviously got thousands of offers of help ... dentists and doctors and people saying, 'I will serve these kids pro bono. Please, send them my way,'' Donaldson said. "I had to pass on those referrals to the Child Protective Services workers and the hospital. And none of them were utilized."


According to the social worker, the adult Turpin children were currently living in one of the most dangerous, crime-ridden parts of the county and one of them had even been assaulted. Wade Walsvick, the lead district attorney's investigator on the case, said "they all lacked that sixth sense of fear. They had none of that, and they were cast right into the world in a very unsafe violent inner-city area."

Meanwhile, Riverside Country District Attorney Mike Hestrin noted there are "resources for them that they can't access. They're living in squalor. They're living in crime-ridden neighborhoods. There's money for them for their education. They can't access it." He added, "They have been victimized again by the system. And that is unimaginable to me, that we could have the very worst case of child abuse that I've ever seen, maybe one of the worst in California history, and that we would then not be able to get it together to give them basic needs, basic necessities."


Donaldson told ABC 7 she spoke out "because we have to fix" the system that had evidently failed the children.