PERRIS, CA —On January 14, 2018, authorities arrested David Turpin, 57, and Louise Turpin, 49, on charges that they starved, shackled, beat, and otherwise tortured their 13 children in a “house of horrors” for nearly 30 years.
Now, Elizabeth Flores, sister of accused abusive matriarch Louise Turpin, has written a book on their sibling relationship and she’s talking about the time she spent living among the horrors of that house.
To begin with, Flores says the revelation of what David and Louise allegedly did to their kids has caught her as off-guard as everyone else, after police responded to a 911 call from a 17-year-old Turpin daughter who escaped through a window.
Once inside, police discovered filth, chaos, and misery, with Turpin offspring as old as 29 malnourished to the point that they looked like young children. Reportedly, David and Louise had long been chaining the kids to beds, tormenting them by withholding food, and permitting them to shower just once a year.
Like Elizabeth Flores, nearby residents expressed utter surprise at first, but then said some odd details came to mind. For example, all 13 Turpin children wore matching clothes and marched outside “military-style.”
One neighbor said the Turpins reminded her of the vampire family from Twilight, describing them as “very pale” and noting, “They only came at night.”
In her memoir Sisters of Secrets: The Story of Sisters Leading Up to the Turpin Family Arrest, Elizabeth Flores describes her life growing up under abusive circumstance with Louise — and, stunningly, how her older sibling shielded her repeatedly from sexual violations. Flores also reiterates that she had no idea that any actual abuse was taking place under Louise’s direction. As she told a reporter:
“I’ve never seen David and Louise be mean to them. They did have weird strict rules, but as far as them laying a hand on them, I’ve never seen them hurt them physically, ever.”
In hindsight, though, Flores told a reporter that, while residing in the Turpins’ home for a few months, she did notice an utter lack of affection in the home, saying:
“The whole time I lived with them, I never once saw them kiss when Louise and David walked through the door or anything,” she says. “I never once saw them run up to them and say ‘Daddy!’ and jump in his arms. Never once saw them react to Louise in that way. Never once saw David and Louise just sit and hold them. Never once saw them read them a book, never once saw them tuck them in bed. Never once saw them rock the baby to sleep.”
Notably, in her book, Flores says that even before Louis met David, “She used to always tell everybody she was going to have 12 kids.” Flores herself is a mother of seven.
Flores also challenges the notion that David and Louise were fanatical church-goers, and contends that they were not “raising their kids up in this Christian home and then all of a sudden they were torturing them.”
In fact, Flores says, Louise always had an active interest in the occult, used a Ouija board, and collected books on Satanism.
Additionally, Flores claims, Louise enthusiastically took part in “snake-charming” festivals and boasted about how handling and even eating the reptiles imbued her with feelings of “power.”
As for other Turpin-house abuse indicators, Flores says it struck her as weird that one daughter had to ask permission before eating and that, in general, she wishes she had read some of the distress signals more accurately, stating:
“Louise was a very private person. She didn’t want me to have friends while I lived there, because she didn’t allow her kids to have friends. I just thought they were very strict … You know, were there signs there that I didn’t see? Should I feel guilty?”
Still, Flores says the whole revelation continues to baffle her, noting, “It’s just hard to fathom. You don’t want to believe that your sister would torture anybody.”
David and Louise Turpin have pleaded not guilty to 12 counts of torture, seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult, six counts of child abuse, and 12 counts of false imprisonment. If convicted, they face up to 94 years in prison.
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Main photos: Elizabeth Flores/YouTube video [screenshot]/Louise Turpin [Riverside County Sheriff’s Office]