“I don’t think the kids even knew what a toothbrush was,” Bobby Spiegel, president and CEO of the Corona Chamber of Commerce, told PEOPLE Thursday. “My understanding is the nurses had to teach the kids how to brush their teeth.”
“I can’t understand how the people that provided birth for them, how can they do that to another human being. It is just horrific," Spiegel continued.
The Turpins allegedly confined and tortured their 13 children, aged 2 to 29 years old. Police learned about the conditions after one of the children, a 17-year-old girl, escaped and called 911. Police initially believed the children were much younger and were shocked to learn their real ages. The oldest victim, a 29-year-old woman, weighed only 82 pounds.
“They lack a basic knowledge of life,” Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin said last week. “Many of the children didn’t know what a police officer was. The 17-year-old, when asked if there was medication or pills in the home, didn’t know what medication or pills were.”
Hestrin said in court on Jan. 18 that the Turpins began abusing their children in Fort Worth, Texas, where one of the girls was bullied to as the "cootie kid." They moved to Murrieta, California in 2010, then to Perris, California in 2014.
“The abuse and severe neglect intensified over time and intensified as they moved to California,” Hestrin said. "It was what started out as neglect – became severe, pervasive, prolonged child abuse."
The children have never seen a dentist and had not been to a doctor in at least four years, although it is believed they were born in hospitals. Hestrin said they were not given toys, although investigators found unopen toys in the house. The district attorney also said at least one male victim took courses.
Hestrin also said the children were forced to sleep during the day and were up all night. They were only allowed to shower once a year.
The children were also reportedly found lying in their own feces.
"The smell was terrible,” Deputy Mike Vasquez of the Riverside Sheriff’s Office told the Daily Mail. “Feces and urine everywhere... It’s what happens when people are chained up — there’s nowhere else to go to the restroom."
The Corona Chamber of Commerce set up a fund for the victims, which you can donate to here.