Judge orders release of records detailing Turpin siblings’ care under Riverside County

A group of people sit and talk or look at papers at a table in a courtroom.
David Turpin, second from right, and wife, Louise, left, sit in a courtroom during their sentencing hearing in April 2019 in Riverside.
(Associated Press)
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A Riverside County judge has ordered the unsealing of records related to the county’s care of the Turpin siblings, who were discovered in 2018 after decades of abuse.

David and Louise Turpin tortured and abused their 13 children, who ranged in age from 2 to 29 at the time. When the children were found in their Perris home, they were severely malnourished, and some showed signs of cognitive impairment and nerve damage.

Their parents were sentenced to life in prison in 2019 for the treatment of their children, and the Turpin siblings have been in the custody of Riverside County’s Public Guardian and Department of Public Social Services since they were rescued.


The decision comes after some of the siblings made complaints in a nationally televised interview on ABC last November about their treatment under the county’s conservatorship. In the interview, the siblings said the county housed them in crime-ridden neighborhoods. They also said they struggled to receive basic food, shelter, transportation, and that they had difficulty accessing the money in a trust fund controlled by the county.

Some records were made available immediately after the signing of the court order, while the rest will be released after redacting for private information in about four weeks, said the Turpins’ lawyer, Kenneth White. The records will provide details about the county’s conservatorship of seven of the 13 Turpin siblings.

Until now, the details of the arrangement had been confidential to protect the Turpins’ privacy and abide by juvenile records laws. But ABC News petitioned the court to release some of the records in light of the allegations by two of the siblings that they have not been properly cared for by the county.

A woman standing in front of a house where balloons and frosted jars line the walkway.
In January 2018, neighbors write messages for the Turpins’ children on the front door of the Perris home of David and Louise Turpin, where police arrested the couple accused of holding 13 children captive.
(Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

“They have been victimized again by the system,” Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin told ABC News. “That is unimaginable to me — that we could have the very worst case of child abuse that I’ve ever seen, and then that we would then not be able to get it together to give them basic needs.”

Riverside County hired former federal judge Stephen Larson last October to conduct an independent investigation of the county’s care of the Turpin siblings before they made their televised complaints.


Larson will also report on the county’s ability to similarly care for other adult and child dependents. Three members of a foster family in Perris have been accused of physically and psychologically abusing nine foster children, five of whom appear to be Turpin siblings.

Larson has told the Riverside County Board of Supervisors that he will report his findings by March 31.