David and Louise Turpin, along with their ever-growing ranks of children, lived on a 36 acre property in Fort Worth, Texas from about 1999 to 2010, according to the DailyMail. Their former neighbors described the property as a “religious compound,” noting that they rarely, if ever, interacted with the Turpins. They knew, however, that the children were not allowed to leave the property, and weren’t even supposed to tell anyone their names.
A former neighbor named Nellie Baldwin recalled seeing one of the Turpins’ daughters walking down the road in 2010, shortly before the family fled Texas altogether. She said that the young girl was picked up by another neighbor in a car. The girl asked the neighbor to take her to a phone before taking her home, and Baldwin speculates that she was trying to call 9-1-1. Ultimately, the neighbor did take the young girl home.
“It wasn’t until about a few days later that they left,” Baldwin told Mercury News. “They just disappeared. He didn’t make any more payments on that place or anything,” she said.
Baldwin, now 78, eventually bought the Fort Worth property with her son after it was foreclosed on in the Turpins’ absence. They picked it up in 2011, and claim that no tenants or squatters had been in it since the Turpins left, so they found it in the exact state that the infamous family left it in.
What they saw in the Fort Worth home was nearly as horrifying as the Turpins’ most recent residence in Perry, California, where they were arrested on Jan. 14. The Fort Worth home was completely trashed -- with a thick layer of dirt and filth on the floors and carpets, feces smeared on the walls, and the bathroom floor rotten beyond repair. DailyMail has published some photos of the wreckage.
The Baldwins say they discovered scratch marks on the backs of doors, and strange vents inside the master bedroom closet. They believe the closet or the crawl space may have been used to imprison the Turpin children on occasion. The vents have been closed up as part of the Baldwins’ extensive renovation efforts.
The house was also filled with so much trash. The Baldwins say that after the foreclosure, the bank had to rent two dumpsters to haul the garbage away, and yet still some remained when the bought it seven months later.
Among the belongings left behind, the Baldwins found a stack of polaroids from the Turpins’ time in the house. These included at least one shot of a bed with ropes tied to the metal railings, suggesting that even back then the Turpins were restraining their children. The pictures also showed desks lined up in makeshift classrooms, and mounds of trash everywhere.
David and Louise Turpin are facing 40 charges of child abuse, torture, imprisonment, and neglect. They pleaded not guilty on Thursday. Their thirteen children, ranging in age from 2 to 29, are in hospitals recovering from years of malnourishment.