Fate Decided for the 13 "House of Horrors" Children


When the story broke of the Turpin family who kept their children locked up, I was welcoming my own third child into the world. For days I avoided the story.

As the story came out my heart broke. We heard tales of the brave 17-year-old girl who escaped.

We heard about siblings from age 2 to 28 who were chained to beds. We heard about the strange justification of ‘homeschooling’ that came from the parents.

New details have emerged, of an extended family with a severe history of abuse. It is easy to cast these parents as evil but in many ways they were but in many ways they were victims of trauma.

The six youngest children, who are all minors, are going to be split up between two foster homes. The older, adult children will be placed in an assisted living facility.

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Riverside District Attorney Mike Hestrin was able to fill in extra details. That older child, 29-year-old Jennifer, only weighed 82 pounds. Some of the children did not even know what a police officer was.

Despite only being aloud to bathe twice a year, the children kept extensive journals. These journals may have been a life line that helped them cope.

“There is a good chance that being able to write may have kept them sane. In an interesting way, this may have helped them come to terms with the bizarre world they lived in,” one academic said.

One report stated that the victims had a diminished mental capacity. If this is from a handicap or from years of trauma and neglect was not clear.

A former classmate of the 29-year-old victim has come forward.

Taha Muntajibuddin said it was sobering that the girl who sat across from him, who was often teased for her hygiene, went home to be chained in her own waste while he went home to a warm meal.

Despite the horror she was living with, he only had nice things to say about her: “Jennifer, despite being vehemently vilified by her peers, was still one of the most pleasant people I have had the opportunity to meet. She had this whimsical optimism to her that couldn’t be dampened, couldn’t be doused no matter what anybody threw at her.”

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I hope stories like this do not end for us after we stop reading. I hope we will all look up at those around us and respond to them with hope and love and compassion. I hope if we suspect abuse we will reach out to the proper authorities to get them help.

And if you are reading this and you have been a victim of abuse please don’t be afraid. There are people who can help you. Please speak up and reach out.

As I end this story in search of hope I ask that all you reading be that hope. The foster parents working with these kids will do their best to heal broken souls.

But you and I can do our part also. Be someone’s hope if you can.

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