Teresa Robinette has never met most of her nieces and nephews. The four eldest she saw in person many years ago, while a few of the others have popped up on the rare video calls she’d have with her sister. Otherwise, they – these flesh and blood relatives – are strangers to her.
We now know these children weren’t just kept from their aunty, but from the entire outside world, from a normal childhood and adolescence.
They are the Turpin kids. Thirteen brothers and sisters aged between two and 29, held captive in their California home, starved and taunted by their own parents. Some were found shackled to their beds, others severely malnourished.
For what they’ve done, Louise and David Turpin are “dead” to Teresa, who spoke this week to NBC program Megyn Kelly Today.
“The children, I hope, when they come out of from where they’re at now, our hope is that they all can lead some sort of normal or happy existence,” she said.
“They obviously have never known happy, except maybe the older ones for a little while, but my main hope is that I can put my arm around them and just tell them that they have family that loves them, that’s not deranged, that this is what it’s supposed to be like.”
The couple has plead not guilty to the 37 counts of abuse, torture and false imprisonment levelled against each of them after their 17-year-old daughter escaped through a window and raised the alarm on January 14.
David Turpin, 57, has also been charged with one count of committing a lewd act on a child under the age of 14.
Teresa said the news of her sister’s treatment of the children came “as a total shock”, as she and David had distanced themselves from extended family over the last two decades.
They spoke on the phone occasionally, she said, but Louise made out as if everything was “perfect”.