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Grandparents shocked by reports of 13 starved grandchildren

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The grandparents of 13 starved and tortured children say their son’s family looked happy and healthy when they last visited California six years ago.

“They were just like any ordinary family,” said Betty Turpin, the 81-year-old mother of David Turpin. “And they had such good relationships. I’m not just saying this stuff. These kids, we were amazed. They were ‘sweetie’ this and ‘sweetie’ that to each other.”

Betty Turpin and her husband James Turpin of Princeton, West Virginia visited her son’s family for five days at their previous home in Murrieta, California.

Betty Turpin told the Southern California News Group on Wednesday that they are still in shock from learning that her son and his wife were arrested this week, their children, ages 2 to 29, found malnourished with some in shackles.

David and Louise Turpin, jailed on $9 million bail, are expected to make their first court appearance on Thursday, and could face charges including torture and child endangerment, authorities said. Prosecutors plan a news conference for earlier in the day.

David and Louise Turpin – Riverside Co. Sheriff’s Office

Betty Turpin said her son told her he had so many kids because God wanted him to. She said her son shared her Pentecostal Christian faith but he wasn’t affiliated with a church in California.

“I feel they were model Christians,” she said. “It’s hard to believe all of this. Over the years, the Lord knows what happened.”

James Turpin said during their visit, “the all looked to me well-adjusted. They weren’t skinny or nothing. They were joyous to see us.”

He said they were dealing with social workers in attempting to connect with their grandkids, who are hospitalized as they recover from their years-long ordeal.

On Wednesday, authorities searched the couple’s current home in Perris, 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles, where one of the daughters, a 17-year-old jumped out the window and called 911 on Sunday. Investigators removed dozens of boxes, what appeared to be two safes and pieces of a bed frame.

Some siblings were shackled to furniture in the foul-smelling four-bedroom home that looked perfectly normal from the outside.

The Turpins have lived in two Riverside County communities since moving to California in 2011, and police said they were never called to either home, nor were any reports fielded by child protective services.

It’s not clear what motivated the Turpins to live a secluded life with their large brood or what went on in the house.

Nor is it clear why the teen girl fled when she did, breaking a silence that had likely lasted years.

Psychiatrists say that even in cases of extreme deprivation, it’s common for feelings of helplessness or confusion to lead to staying in place despite opportunities to flee.

“This happens all the time. The number of individuals who would immediately respond to an opportunity where they could get away is very small compared to the number of people who would have that paralysis and insecurity and confusion about what to do,” said Dr. Bruce Perry, a psychiatrist and senior fellow at The ChildTrauma Academy in Houston.

The vulnerable girl might have been shamed, beaten or threatened with violence and only after many missed opportunities did she probably work up the courage to act, Perry said.

“It’s pretty remarkable that she’d do that,” he said. “The power that must have been exerted to keep an entire family like that for so long must have been pretty sophisticated.”

Dale Jr. crashes in snowy weather after helping other driver

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Dale Earnhardt Jr. is warning North Carolina drivers not to venture out into a snowstorm after he slid off the road and hit a tree.

Earnhardt said on his Twitter account Wednesday that he had just used his winch to help a sedan out of a ditch in snowy weather when he himself drove off the road and into a tree.

He wrote: “NC stay off the roads today/tonight. 5 minutes after helping these folks I center punched a pine tree.”

A spokesman for Earnhardt, Mike Davis, said that the recently retired NASCAR driver wasn’t injured and his pickup truck had only minor damage, if any. Davis said the people Earnhardt helped weren’t injured, either.

Earnhardt’s crash happened in Mooresville near where his racing team has its shop and offices.

Drivers warned to watch for black ice on area roads

(WSPA) — Officials are warning people to stay off snow and ice-covered roads in the Carolinas. As of Thursday morning, at least 10 people have died in traffic accidents across the South after a winter storm.

The snow has stopped in our area, but black ice is a major concern on secondary and rural roads.

Crews with the S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT) continued to work around the clock to clear roads.

DOT workers used a two-step process, removing snow and slush on the roads before applying a de-icing solution to help prevents roads from icing over.

Officials say to expect black ice if you travel this morning.

They caution drivers to lower their speed and keep plenty of distance between yourself and the driver ahead of you.

Here’s a list of South Carolina road conditions. If you’re traveling in North Carolina, click or tap here for more information on roadways.

AAA Carolinas encourages drivers to carry winter emergency kits in their cars in case they break down or have another roadside emergency. Kits should include a cell phone with important emergency contacts, water, non-perishable snacks, blankets, a first aid kit, and traction mats or a bag of abrasive material such as sand or cat litter.

AAA Carolinas says three out of four Carolinians don’t have emergency kits in their vehicles.

 

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