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What to Take Away From the Turpin Case

Jean Kim

Posted on February 2, 2018 17:55

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How to recognize children who are in danger.

Continuing from last week’s TLT, here are other notable facts about the Turpins:

-Louise Turpin ran away with David, her then boyfriend aged 23, when she was 16. Once they were tracked down, her father allowed their marriage and Louise became estranged from her parents.

-The couple found someone to have sex with Louise in a hotel as David watched. On the anniversary of that night, they booked the same hotel room and reenacted the tryst.

-The couple renewed their vows 3 times in Vegas with the same Elvis impersonator who, upon retrospect, says the kids were very thin and pale.

-While the family used to take vacations with their extended family/skype almost a decade ago, all interaction with the kids ceased. While Louise would still skype with her sister, etc she would not allow her family to see or speak with the children.

-Louise’s siblings have denounced the couple.

-The courts have ruled that neither David nor Louise may have direct contact with the children.

-Louise and David are being held on $12 million bail each, one million for each child they abused, and face 94 years to life in prison.

-While neighbors did notice the odd and quiet behavior of the children, they were allayed by Louise, who was talkative and seemed normal.

-Neighbors took a class taught by the police on how to spot abuse.


And that is the question. How do you know when abuse is abuse? How do you know the difference between different and mistreatment? Especially when you see bits of normalcy?

We’ve gotten drilled into us not to judge anyone, and rightly so. Assumptions are rarely right. There’s almost always a legitimate story: a medical condition, a cultural tradition, family quirks … that can oftentimes explain unfamiliar behavior.

No one wants to be wrong if they call something out. That causes the accuser embarrassment, maybe repercussions, and it throws the family into an unnecessary hassle and possible harassment.

No decision of such life-changing prospects should be made hastily, but given these cases that pop up every now and again, and, if less severe, more abundant, cases of neglect and abuse, it’s time we learned how to recognize signs and to take action.

A helpful guide can be found on A few signs include: 

-“Excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious about doing something wrong”

-“Clothes are ill-fitting, filthy, or inappropriate for the weather”

-“Hygiene is consistently bad (unbathed, matted and unwashed hair, noticeable body odor”


And clearly, from the Turpins, we’ve learned this doesn’t just apply to school-aged children. I’m sure we’ve all known “the smelly guy” in the corner of our university classrooms.

It’s excessively tragic that it takes these sorts of nationwide horror stories to make us aware, but let’s all at least take notes so that we can help the next child.

Jean Kim

Posted on February 2, 2018 17:55


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