When 13 siblings were freed from the disturbing conditions of their Southern California home in January, the world wondered: Will they ever heal from the mental and physical trauma they endured?
The Turpin siblings, who range in age from 2 to 29, had allegedly been tied to their beds by their parents as punishment for misbehavior — first with ropes, then with chains and padlocks, officials said. All but the youngest were fed very little food on a schedule, leaving them severely malnourished. When police officers broke into the house to free the siblings, officials said many of them did not know what a police officer was.
Yet hospital staff and their lawyer say the older of the Turpin children, who range in age from 18 to 29, are on the road to recovery. They were discreetly released Thursday from Corona Regional Medical Center and taken by their lawyer and public guardian from the hospital to a rural house in an undisclosed location, according to ABC News.
Settled into their new home, they have taken on new and unfamiliar activities: Picking citrus, making ice cream sundaes and cooking Mexican food, said their attorney Jack Osborn, who spoke exclusively to ABC News. They have also become huge “Star Wars” fans.
Mark Uffer, the chief executive of the Corona Regional Medical Center, confirmed to ABC News that the older Turpin siblings were discharged from the hospital, and said the staff wishes “these brave siblings continued strength as they take the next steps in their journey.”
The siblings’ parents, David and Louise Turpin, face about 40 charges in their children’s abuse, which for years went undiscovered until one of the Turpin teenagers escaped from the Perris, Calif., house in January and alerted police. Her 12 siblings were freed soon after, and the parents were arrested.
The charges against the parents include a dozen counts of torture and another dozen counts of false imprisonment. Louise Turpin has also been charged with felony assault.
They have pleaded not guilty to the charges and continue to be held on $12 million bail each in a jail in Riverside, Calif.
Their lawyers, as well as Osborn, could not be reached for comment Monday.
Osborn told ABC News that the older siblings are undergoing occupational, physical and psychological therapy. They’re also watching a lot of movies, which they previously did not have access to despite their parents’ collection of thousands of DVDs. The siblings love “Star Wars,” he said.
Many of the siblings have cognitive impairment and nerve damage as a result of the abuse, officials said. Medical experts said they expect that the siblings will require long-term psychological support in their recovery.
The Turpin children rarely left their Perris house and did not go to school. The older siblings rarely took trips in the car, and so the concept of driving themselves seemed unusual. Osborn told ABC News that one had joked about needing to wear a football helmet for safety if he ever drove.
They hope to have careers, Osborn said, perhaps as nurses or doctors.
“Some asked whether they could be nurses without having to give injections or seeing much blood,” he told ABC News.
Although largely kept from the outside world, the Turpin children apparently had some access to the Internet.
The 17-year-old who escaped had been online just weeks before she freed her siblings. ABC News earlier this month reported she had accounts on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, where she performed a song called “Where is the Key?”
The older siblings are unaware of the international attention their case has drawn, Osborn told ABC News, although they are aware of the legal situation of their parents, who are next due in court on March 23.
A Riverside judge in January barred the parents from contacting their children for the next three years, including by phone or electronically. The parents also can’t be within 100 yards of the children or attempt to obtain their address.
Police have been investigating the extent of the siblings’ abuse and have access to hundreds of the siblings’ journals, which they hope will reveal information about what was happening in the Turpin house. In January, Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin told the Associated Press that the siblings’ full story will “come out when it comes out.”
“Victims in these kinds of cases, they tell their story,” he said. “But they tell it slowly; they tell it at their own pace.”