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The David and Louise Turpin Family Homeschool Cult

David and Louise Turpin, Homeschool, Cult, Abuse, Torture

David and Louise Turpin, homeschool, cult, abuse, torture, chain, padlock, quiverfull full-quiver, Christian


Most likely you have heard the news about the large homeschooling family, the Turpins, from California. The parents, David, 57, and Louise, 49, Turpin who were arrested for torture and child endangerment, with bail set at $9 million each. Here are some of the key facts:

  • David and Louise Turpin are the biological parents of 13 children ranging in age of 2 years to 29 years old.
  • They live in Perris, California, not too far from Los Angeles.
  • Their 17-yr old daughter escaped from her home early Sunday morning by climbing out of a window, and used a deactivated cell phone to contact authorities. She showed the police photos of the living conditions of the home which convinced authorities to do a welfare check at the house.
  • When authorities arrived, they found several children shackled to beds or furniture by chain and padlocks.
  • The children were found pale and extremely emaciated.
  • It was reported that the 17-yr old looked to be approximately 10 years old. The other adults, too, looked very young for their age.
  • David and Louise Anna Turpin were arrested on charges of torture and child endangerment.
  • The minor children were taken to one hospital, and the adult children were taken to another. All were given food and drink, and admitted for treatment.
  • “US reports say Louise’s parents had tried to visit their daughter and son-in-law in the past, and had to turn back at the airport when the Turpins refused to provide their street address.” Source
  • They were known to be hoarders, and the home was dark and had a foul odor.
  • The children were rarely seen outside. Neighbors had no clue there were 13 children (and adult children) living in the home.
  • They were deeply religious, and were forced to memorize chapters of the Bible
  • David Turpin registered his homeschool under the name, Sandcastle Day School in 2011.


Turpin’s Religious Beliefs/Practices

They said their son and daughter-in-law, whom they have not seen for several years, are religious and kept having children because “God called on them.”

The grandparents said that the children are home-schooled, made to memorize long scriptures in the Bible. Some of the children, the grandparents told ABC News, have tried to memorize the entire book. The Washington Post


What could cause parents to do something so awful? An expert gives his opinion.

As a forensic psychologist, this is why I think David and Louise Turpin may have held their children captive

In this article, David Canter, “an emeritus professor of investigative psychology at the University of Liverpool” discussed the way the children addressed. For example, in the photos of three different wedding vow renewals, the girls all wore matching plaid dresses, and the boys, matching suits. Here is what he had to say about that:

Here is evidence of the children being treated as decorations for the parents’ rituals. They also show that the Turpins were more than happy to display their anonymous brood, apparently unaware of the social implications of showing them off in such a strangely formulaic way.

Canter noted that sometimes children held captive can indicate the possibility of sexual abuse, but didn’t see any clues to that in this case. However, he speculated about psychological reasons why parents might want to keep children locked away and away from public.

One possibility is that the parents wanted to keep their children away from the authorities for religious or other ideological reasons, or because they did not trust those outside the family. These situations have all the qualities of a cult in which the father usually acts as a patriarch who browbeats his wife and children into subservience. The Facebook photographs we’ve seen certainly have the look of a cult about them. Even their picture in Disneyland shows the children identically dressed.


Financial Problems

I’ve lost track of how many articles I’ve read, but clearly finances was an issue for this couple. At least one house went through foreclosure in Texas. There was at least one bankruptcy in California. Could these financial difficulties, compounded with the demands of a large family contribute to the abuse? Maybe so. Here is more from David Canter:

Large families do tend either to be chaotic or to develop formal, often ritualistic, processes to manage day to day activities. Is it possible that, as the Turpins’ finances cycled ever more out of control, they became increasingly coercive in their attempts to handle the situation they had created for themselves?



This video interviews a neighbor from when they lived in Texas. Also, we can see the condition their house was in after they left Texas to move to California.


Some thoughts on homeschool laws, quiver-full ideology, and cult-like religion and beliefs:

Someone posted this story in a private Facebook group when it first broke. This Facebook group deals with homeschooled kids who are abused. We all read the report and knew in our guts this was a homeschool family. We highly suspected it was a Christian family as well. We were all right. We’ve seen this pattern again and again.

I am tired of seeing abuse in families who homeschool their children. This family was able to register their homeschool in California, and then go off the radar, with little-to-no interaction with people who might have been able to notice there was a problem.

The case raises questions about whether the state may be too lenient in its approach to home schooling and whether it should have been monitoring Mr. Turpin more closely. In California, almost anyone can open a private school by filing an affidavit with the state. California is one of 14 states that ask parents only to register to create a home school, and in 11 other states, including Texas, parents are not required to submit any documentation at all.

The California Department of Education said it was sickened by the tragedy and was investigating what had occurred. The department registers private schools, but “does not approve, monitor, inspect, or oversee” them, said Bill Ainsworth, a department spokesman. ~New York Times

As a former homeschooling mom of 23 years with 7 children, I understand the amount of pressure involved. I saw families larger than mine and I often wondered about them. Were the children being isolated? Were their children really getting a good education at home? I had suspicions about children not getting as good of an education as possible, but what about abuse? How many cases of abuse were being hidden?

“The state has a responsibility to make sure there is at least an annual inspection,” she said. “If we’re not going to uphold educational standards, then for the love of God the least we can do is uphold health and safety standards. We need to do everything we can for vulnerable minors before it becomes anything this tragic.” Assemblywoman Susan Eggman

Every state has their own homeschooling laws, some are more strict than others. But it really bothers me that abusive parents like these can keep even adult children up to the age of 29 locked up. What if the 17-yr old didn’t escape? How long would this abuse have continued?

I was in the homeschool movement when fear was taught from the key leaders. I didn’t let my children play outside during school hours for fear that a neighbor might turn us in (never mind the fact that even elementary school children get to go on recess). I had a paper taped to the inside of my kitchen cupboard that listed what to do if child protective services or the police came to our front door.

Yes, there was a culture of paranoia and fear in the homeschool movement. This family sounds like they were caught up in fear, too. Eventually, I realized that I was hearing all of the horror stories from HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association). They needed to scare us so that we would buy their homeschool insurance and provide legal assistance to us if we needed it. After that “discovery,” I stopped paying for HSLDA and never bought into that fear again. But what kept this family in so much fear? There is not the same fearful climate now for homeschoolers as there was two decades ago.


This family didn’t believe in birth control, they were full-quiver. This means don’t interfere with a woman’s body by using artificial birth control, just trust God to give you the amount of babies He wants you to have. The Turpins had 13 children, her last child was born when she was 45 yrs old. God was in control of Louise’s womb. All children are a blessing from the Lord. That is the quiver-full mantra.


I posted the quote from the grandparents that the children were to memorize big chunks of the Bible. That in and of itself is not abusive, but it would be interesting to look at all of their education to see what quality of education they received. The dad was registered as principal. Did he do all of the teaching and hold a full-time job?

A man named Mike reported to the New York Post that he thought the family was like a cult.

“They would march back and forth on the second story at night. The light would be on the whole the time, and they would be marching the kids back and forth,” said Mike, who wouldn’t give his last name.

Mike works in a hospital and says he’d often see the Turpin siblings being marched through the upstairs rooms between midnight and 3 a.m.

I wonder if the Turpins followed any specific religious teachings. Did they follow Bill Gothard’s teachings? Maybe not, the girls were seen wearing pants. It doesn’t seem like they went to church, or the neighbors would have seen them leaving and returning to their house over the years. It’s highly likely they were influenced by patriarchal teachings, but was it anyone in particular? Doug Wilson? The former Doug Phillips? Or was David Turpin just doing his own thing?

Sometimes in patriarchy, wives are abused. Was Louise abused in her home? How about the children – – did they experience any physical abuse (not sexual)?

I have a lot of questions. A whole lot of anger. And I just want to weep for those precious kids who will likely have to spend many, many years getting help recovering from their nightmare. Imagine – – the people who should have cared for them and loved them the most, neglected and harmed them. What a tragedy. Lord have mercy!



203 thoughts on “The David and Louise Turpin Family Homeschool Cult”

  1. I read somewhere that one of the older kids was really trying to minimize or something in court, like “they were worried we would drink too much caffeine”. But chaining someone to their beds so they can’t even go to the bathroom(I shudder at what the girls had to endure every month) is still WAY extreme for that. The adult children appear to now live in a home together, and working on building their lives as adults, and I don’t know what happened to the ones who are still children. Hopefully they get to see each other and have the same help as they grow up. But, for privacy’s sake we may never find out, unless any of us live in the same area.


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