Couple who chained, tortured 13 kids in California pleads not guilty

Police find 12 people held captive in California home after teen escapes

Showered once a year. "Louise Turpin would accompany him, wait outside the classroom for him".

"As a prosecutor, there are some cases that haunt you", Riverside County district attorney Mike Hestrin said Thursday.

The youngest of the 13 children, a 2-year-old, was not starved and thus was not included in the torture charges, Hestrin said. Investigators say the 17-year-old who escaped and called 911 had been working on an escape plan for more than two years.

On Thursday, the parents - David Allen Turpin and Louise Anna Turpin - were charged with multiple felony counts of torture, child abuse, abuse of dependent adults and false imprisonment. The parents could face charges including torture and child endangerment.

"This is an ongoing investigation", Hestrin said. Baffling Authorities are struggling to make sense of the family's life, and the glaring contradiction between the cruel living conditions the siblings endured, and the image the Turpins projected of happy family life.

Now the children are free, and the parents are in custody.

According to police, the abuse began in Texas with the children tied to beds with ropes and then hog-tied, Hestrin said.

Punishments would last weeks or months and intensified over time. Circumstantial evidence suggested that such treatment could go on for days, with the children not even been unchained to go to the toilet. "Numerous children didn't know what a police officer was.", Hestrin said. The children were forced to stay awake through the night, out of sight of neighbours, and knew virtually nothing of the outside world. "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. A punishment could be triggered by something like washing hands above the wrist, in which case they would be accused of playing with the water, he said.

This was one of the offenses the Turpins allegedly deemed punishable, and the child would be chained to their bed.

When they were not chained up, they were kept in separate rooms and fed very little and on a schedule. The children were told that they could look at the food, but could not eat it, Hestrin said. Sometimes, the parents would allegedly buy apple or pumpkin pies, leave them on the counter and let them go uneaten, prohibiting the children from tasting them.

Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped as an 11-year-old and repeatedly raped over 18 years by convicted sex offender Phillip Garrido in California.

"To give you an example", Hestrin said Thursday, "one of the children at age 12 is the weight of an average 7-year-old".

Hestrin said all the children had been subjected to "prolonged abuse" and had not been allowed to shower a couple of times a year, or allowed to see a dentist or doctor.

The one-year-old pair are leash-trained and will be re-homed together in February. Some of them were also chained to other furniture in the house when authorities found them. Even as the children were not allowed to play with toys, the couple had numerous unopened toys throughout the house, he said.

"We now have recovered those journals, hundreds of them".

"There were other whimpering sounds coming from their property, but we could never find where they came from", Vinyard said.

The abuse and neglect began when the family lived in the Fort Worth, Texas, area, with the parents at one point residing apart from most of their children and dropping off food from time to time, Hestrin said.

The Daily Mail spoke to Shelli Vinyard, who said the family left "a huge garbage dumpster at their house", in which she claimed a kitten was left crying when they abandoned the home.

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