RIVERSIDE, Calif. (WRIC/AP) — A California couple with ties to Virginia has pleaded not guilty to allegations they tortured a dozen of their children, kept them chained to beds for months and starved them so much that their growth was stunted and their muscles atrophied.
David Allen Turpin and his wife, Louise Anna Turpin, were arrested Sunday after authorities found the malnourished children in their home in Riverside County, California.
According to the Collegiate Times, David Turpin, 56, is a Virginia Tech graduate. The school newspaper is reporting that he graduated in 1984 with a degree in electrical engineering.
He grew up roughly 40 miles from Blacksburg in Mercer County, West Virginia. A West Virginia resident told the Bluefield Daily Telegraph that D. Turpin was “kind of nerdy” and “kind of a homebody.”
His wife, 49-year-old Louise Turpin, grew up in the same area of West Virginia and left home as a teenager to marry David, according to the Collegiate Times’ report. They were married in 1985 in Pearisburg, Virginia, when she was 16 years old and he was 23, according to the Associated Press.
David Turpin’s parents, James and Betty Turpin, still live in the area and said they had not been to California in about six years, but that “the kids were fine” when they last visited.
James Turpin, the children’s’ grandfather, said from his home in Princeton, West Virginia, that he did not believe the reports about the abuse.
“I’m going to talk with the children, find out the real story on this as soon as I can get a call through to them,” James Turpin told The Associated Press.
D. Turpin and L. Turpin made their first appearance in court Thursday and pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of torture, child abuse, dependent adult abuse and false imprisonment. D. Turpin also pleaded not guilty to performing a lewd act on a child under age 14.
They were jailed on $12 million bail each.
“It’s a very serious case,” David Turpin’s lawyer, Deputy Public Defender David Macher, said. “Our clients are presumed to be innocent, and that is a very important presumption.”