Child abuse: x-ray of infant with multiple rib fractures, Author/Source National Institutes of Health (PD as work of federal gov’t).

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Another house of horrors was uncovered this week, this time in Riverside, CA.  Thirteen siblings were found emaciated, living in dark and stomach-churning conditions – several shackled to their beds – in a suburban tract home that to all outward appearances seemed normal [1][2].

David and Louise Turpin are being charged with dozens of counts of torture, child abuse, and abuse of dependent adults.  Their children range in age from 2 y.o. to 29 y.o.

Journals by the children have been recovered documenting the torture which included starvation, beatings, chaining, repeated strangulation, and refusal to allow the children to use bathroom facilities or bathe for months on end [3].

Many of the children have cognitive impairment and neurologic deficits as a result.  The 17 y.o. girl who somehow managed to escape and call police is so stunted she looks 10 y.o.  Her 29 y.o. sister weighs 82 lbs.

How is any civilized human being to react to this [4]?  Shock and disgust are followed closely by outrage.  How could this happen, we ask ourselves helplessly.

Regulatory Failure

This was depravity of the highest order, beyond the comprehension of most normal people.  But there was one gross regulatory failure.

The home in question was for the past 7 years listed by the California Dept. of Education as the Sandcastle Day School, a private K-12 campus with David Turpin as principal.

Supposedly the Accrediting Commission of Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) conducts a “comprehensive accreditation of public and private schools” in California, at least according to the US Dept. of Education website it does [5].  One cannot help but wonder how “comprehensive” that process was, in this case.

California does not feel it necessary to “approve” or certify private schools which do not provide special education [6].  There is no licensing required by the 3000 private schools listed with the California Dept. of Education.  There are no audits conducted.  California private schools are permitted simply to file an annual affidavit as to their operation.  Teacher certification is, also, optional.

Of course, there were no annual fire inspections conducted here either.  Had there been, this travesty would have come to light sooner.

The Turpins, it should be added, lived for many years in Texas before moving to California.  The abuse of their eldest children would have begun there.

Whether they claimed to conduct a private school in Texas is not currently known [7].  The chances are they did.  Otherwise their children would have been required to attend school (or investigated as truant).

The Human Heart

To say that appearances can be deceiving is an understatement.   If we are to protect our children, we cannot accept banal statements of compliance with the law at face value.  The darkness of the human heart has no limits.  We should by now have learned that.

Woe to you…For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matt. 23:  27).

[1]  Daily Hampshire Gazette, “Parents arrested after children found shackled and malnourished in California home” by Paloma Esquivel and Joel Rubin of Los Angeles Times, 1/15/18,

[2]  CNN, “ ‘This is depraved conduct,’ DA says of couple accused of torturing kids” by Madison Park et al, 1/18/18,

[3]  The Washington Post, “Starved, chained and unbathed:  Police describe the lives of 13 siblings held captive in their home” by Marwa Eltagouri, 1/18/18,

[4]  This is the type of horrific situation police, social workers, and child advocates confront on a regular basis.  These professionals experience secondary trauma, as a result.

[5]  US Dept. of Education, California, Private Schools,

[6]  The Edwardsville Intelligencer, “Lawmakers seek home school oversight after 13 found captive” by Michael Balsamo and Kathleen Ronayne of the Associated Press, 1/17/18,

[7]  The Texas Private School Accreditation Commission (TEPSAC) oversees private schools in that state.  See, Texas Private School Accreditation Commission,



Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion

25 responses to “Appearances

    • I try not to write about every abuse story in the news. But the tragic magnitude of this one called for a response.

      • Good that you wrote about this (true) story. I am hoping that nobody lets the story rest, or be forgotten,as those children (and adult children) will need all the help, validation and attention that they can get. These are amazingly, strong and resilient “children” (the “Turpins”), who will probably prove to be miracles as time passes. The children have been fed a diet of misinformation, brainwashing, and torturous mis-education by two evil individuals. The articles, stories, and books need to be written to make sure that those two evil individuals are not permitted to be the “only” story that the children have available to them, as they grow.

      • Well said. I pray for those children, too.

  1. It is hard to comprehend how such cruelty and depravity toward children occurs with terrifying regularity. It was hard 64 years ago and it is hard today. It seems as if very little is changing in the way children are used as pawns in an evil game played out by those who should know better. We are forever hearing about lessons being learned every time these type of atrocities occur, but it seems to me that it is not lessons that need to be learned to prevent these evil acts happening again and again. What needs to happen is for people to take responsibility for their actions and those in government, neighbours, communities, to make sure they stop turning a blind eye.

    Thank you Anna for posting on this. It grieved me when I heard about it on the news earlier in the week. Thank God those poor defenceless souls will now get the care and love that has been denied them.

  2. Lady Quixote/Linda Lee

    Thank you for writing about this. I have been emotionally paralyzed ever since this story broke one week ago today. My childhood was similar, although not as bad. Thanks to your post, I was finally able to write about this on my blog just now.

    God bless you.

    • It pains me to hear that you suffered similarly, Lady Quixote. I cannot tell you what it means to me that this post was of some small help to you. I was reluctant to write about such a terrible situation, knowing there was little I could add. Your courage is an inspiration. May God bless and heal you. ❤

  3. This is such sad news.. Even more heartbreaking, are the others who go unnoticed.. Although I don’t believe we should be ” busy bodies” I feel it is our God given command, not to turn a blind eye to our instincts.. We should report what seems odd.. There are anonymous reporting options in many states.. In this case, I feel gross negligence allowed abuse to continue..

  4. Reblogged this on Pennies For Dreams and commented:
    Bad news can start a push for real change!

  5. Like nearly everyone else who saw the news accounts of this horrific abuse, I was stunned at the atrocities committed against these defenseless children. I can think of a dozen “if only’s” that might have put an end to this madness, none of which matters at this point.

    While I’m sure some length of prison sentence is forthcoming to these monsters masquerading as parents, that does nothing to repair the lives that have been shattered.

    Really, I don’t know what to say at this point, except thank you Anna for covering this tragedy with your typical grace.

  6. I read the story, and I had a long note. So I decided to put it at my blog, instead of take space here. It is sad, so sad what happened to those innocents.

    • I read through your thoughtful posts of 1/22/18 (“If”, “Turpin Evil”, “Slide Show*Evil Monsters”, and “This Past Week in the News”) and recommend them to readers. Your explanation for the “freezing” behavior by the Turpin children on one of the rare occasions they were seen out of doors was very moving. I was particularly struck by your observation that these parents should have been charged w/ attempted murder. Unfortunately, I could not find a “like” button on 3 of the 4 posts. Otherwise I would have “liked” all 4.

  7. Thank you for covering this one. I cannot imagine what was going through the parents’ minds.

  8. foster advocate justice

    Wow, I knew a little about this but I did not really look into the private school information as much. This is beyond crazy and evil.

  9. Eye opening post. May God help you.Great job.👌👌

  10. Welcome Anna.Your post is older but pain is everlasting that’s important for us.💖💖

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