David and Louise Turpin appeared to be caring parents that loved their children. While their choice of having 13 babies was far from typical, they posted “normal” pictures on Facebook that showed fun activities like trips to Disneyland, vow renewal ceremonies in Las Vegas, and Dr. Seuss inspired matching outfits.
That Facebook page, and the illusion it presented, was exposed as a total sham when their 17-year-old daughter escaped and told a tale straight out of a horror movie that involved decades of abuse so severe it’s hard to imagine—children who were chained to beds, deprived of food, locked in closet “cages,” denied schooling and medical care, and terrorized mentally and emotionally.
This mother and father, who are despicable beyond words, are currently in jail, with multi-million dollar bails each.
A rational mind can not understand such behavior and folks around the world are struggling to make sense of this extremely odd case. I hesitate to speculate before all the facts come out, but clearly something was very wrong in that house. There may be mental illness involved, or the parents might just be pure evil; we just don’t know yet.
I’ve read some accounts that the Turpins were Pentecostal fanatics who lived like a cult, insisting on extreme separation from society. Supposedly, David’s own mother said that “God commanded them to keep having children” and also said they were “a well-respected family.” (Obviously, that lady is in deep denial, but her point of view sheds some light on the family dynamic.)
Keeping 13 kids, ages 2-29, in such abusive conditions that they didn’t eat regularly, didn’t grow normally, or even have the freedom to use the bathroom without permission is not respectable, not normal, and definitely not about religion.
Truly religious people, who base their lives around Scripture and its teachings, would never terrorize, beat, starve, chain, or otherwise mistreat anyone, let alone a child. Doing so is the complete opposite of what morality teaches. Some twisted minds do get confused and look to justify their own sickness, claiming that God wants them to do it. That is the worst type of self righteous, immoral behavior and nobody has the right to do evil in God’s name and pretend it’s ok.
It’s natural to wonder why extended family, neighbors, and other people who knew the Turpins didn’t contact the authorities. If any good can come out of this tragic tale, it’s a warning that we all need to be more aware. If something seems wrong or scary, it is totally okay to get help. Nobody should have to suffer in silence, either as a direct victim or fearful bystander.
Children are precious. They deserve everything good that life has to offer. We must help, as a society and as we’re individually able, to ensure that they are well cared for and not harmed needlessly. Becoming a volunteer, or a foster parent, or a coach is a great place to start. So many youngsters are suffering and in dire need of love. It’s an outrage to do nothing!