In a story that continues to captivate the nation's attention, more details are coming out about the 13 California siblings who were found malnourished, abused, shackled to furniture and living in their own waste.
A former classmate of the 29-year-old woman, the oldest sibling involved in the harrowing story, wrote in a lengthy Facebook post how students would bully the eldest Turpin girl.
The former classmate, Taha Muntajibuddin, wrote in a gut-wrenching post how the girl was mercilessly bullied at Meadowcreek Elementary School in Fort, Worth Texas. (The Turpins resided in Rio Vista, Texas, before moving to Perris, California.)
“[She] was the one girl at Meadowcreek Elementary that nobody wanted to be caught talking to. Every grade level had a designated ‘cootie kid’ and she held the title for our year,” Taha Muntajibuddin wrote Jan. 18.
“She was a frail girl, had pin-straight hair with bangs and often wore the same purple outfit. She was often made fun of by the other third graders because her clothes would sometimes look as though they had been dragged through mud, which she would also, smell like on most days.”
Muntajibuddin, a pediatrics resident doctor based in Houston, recalled a heartbreaking story from third grade when the teacher asked Turpin to “discard a scrunchie she had used to tie her hair out of a discarded tin foil wrapper from an old Hershey’s bar.” According to Muntajibuddin, Turpin moved away before the start of fourth grade.
Years later, Muntajibuddin found himself thinking about Turpin and began searching for her on social media.
“Her name was so distinct that there couldn’t be any more than a few people who shared the name, yet no matching results came up,” he wrote. “I had naturally assumed that [she] was one of the lucky few who hadn’t been hit by the social media bag. I also thought that somewhere, somehow [she] was probably living her best life, showing all of us gawky, third graders in Mrs. Llano’s class how far she’d come. She was going to be that person at the reunion looking completely flawless and making six figures.”
Unfortunately, that didn't turn out to be true; David and Louise Turpin allegedly restricted their children to one rationed meal per day and just one shower a year; the siblings were also not permitted to use the restroom.
“I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame,” Muntajibuddin wrote. “Of course, none of us are responsible for the events that ensued, but you can’t help but feel rotten when the classmate your peers made fun of for ‘smelling like poop’ quite literally had to sit in her own waste because she was chained to her bed. It is nothing but sobering to know that the person who sat across from you at the lunch table went home to squalor and filth while you went home to a warm meal and a bedtime story.”
Muntajibuddin wrote that he hoped the world would learn from the harrowing experience.
“The resounding lesson here is a simple one, something that we’re taught form the very beginning: be nice. Teach your children to be nice. If you see someone that’s isolated, befriend them. If you see someone that’s different, befriend them,” he pleaded. “We can never completely put ourselves in others’ shoes nor can we completely understand the circumstances that one is brought up in, but a simple act of kindness and acceptance may be the ray of hope that that person needs. Befriend the...Turpins of the world.”
As previously reported, the 13 Turpin siblings were found after a 17-year-old girl escaped through a window and dialed 911 from a deactivated cell phone. Their parents, David and Louise Turpin, pleaded not guilty to 38 charges of torture, child abuse and false imprisonment. David Turpin was also charged with one count of a lewd act on a child.
All the victims except for the toddler were severely malnourished, Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said, adding that the eldest victim — a 29-year-old woman — weighed only 82 pounds when rescued. He said another child, a 12-year-old, was the weight of an average 7-year-old.
Hestrin said in addition to hog-tying and padlocking their children to furniture, the parents would buy food including pies and "leave it on the counter, let the children look at it, but not eat the food."
When found, they hadn't been to a doctor in over four years and had never been to a dentist, he added.
Prosecutors will ask a judge Wednesday to forbid the Turpins from contacting their children.