A former college classmate of one of the 13 tortured children said she will never forget the young man who wore the same clothes every day and didn't look anyone in the eye.
Angie Parra took a music class with one of the older children of the brood at Mount San Jacinto College. She described the young man as a "sweet, but odd introvert" in an interview with NBC4.
Parra also said he was "famished" and recalled when he scarfed down food at a school potluck.
U.S. & World
News from around the country and around the globe
"He stood by the table and didn’t sit down," Parra said. "He literally ate plate after plate after plate."
"I could see sadness in his face," she said. "His eyes – he never wanted to make eye contact with anyone."
Mike Hestrin, the Riverside District Attorney, revealed in a news conference Thursday that David and Louise Turpin allegedly starved their children and forced them to eat rationed meals once per day. The 13 children – whose ages ranged from 2 to 29 – were forced to stay awake through the night and sleep through the day.
Hestrin said the torture gradually escalated after the family moved from Texas to Riverside County in 2011.
"One victim at one point was tied up and hog tied," he said. "When that victim was able to escape the ropes, these defendants eventually began using chains and padlocks to chain the victims to their beds."
The couple pleaded not guilty to charges of torture and false imprisonment. David Turpin was also charged with one count of a lewd act on a minor.
If convicted, the couple each faces 94 years to life in prison. Their bail was increased from $9 million to $12 million each.
The abuse and torture came to light Sunday after the couple's 17-year-old daughter jumped out of a window and called police to inform them of the conditions she and her siblings were living in.
"There are cases that stick with you that haunt you," Hestrin said. "Sometimes in this business we're faced with looking at human depravity, and that's what we're looking at."
Public defenders assigned to the Turpins said they are reviewing the case and described it as "very serious."
"Our clients are presumed to be innocent," said attorney David Macher. "They are presumed to be not guilty. We're going to provide a vigorous defense."
The attorneys were asked whether they think the couple can receive a fair trial.
"Part of it will depend on the reporting and the coverage of it," said Jeff Zimel, supervisor at the public defender's office. "People who are not in courtroom begin to form opinions about what happened."
The couple's children all showed signs of muscular degredation and were all severly malnourished. All six minors were taken to the Riverside University Hospital System while the seven adults were transported to Corona Regional Medical Center, according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.
All children are receiving IV antibiotics, vitamins and nutrition. They have not been to a doctor in years and none have ever seen a dentist, according to Hestrin. He added that the oldest child, a 29-year-old woman, weighs just 82 pounds.
Records show that the couple enrolled their children in a private school at their home, where David Turnpin was listed as its principal. There is no indication that others were enrolled in the school, called Sandcastle Day School.
The children's grandparents said their son's family looked "healthy" and "happy" when they last saw them six years ago. Betty and James Turpin were shocked when they learned their son and his wife were arrested.
"They were just like any ordinary family," Betty Turpin said. "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."
In contrast, the sister of Louise Turpin, Teresa Robinette, said on the "Today" show Wednesday that her nieces and nephews didn't live a normal life.
"They weren't allowed to date," Robinette said. "They didn't have a social life. They weren't allowed to watch TV. They weren't allowed to talk on the phone or have friends over, the normal stuff that kids do."
A charity fund by the Riverside University Health System was opened in support of the children and to donate money toward their care and recovery. Donations can be made by visiting www.RUHealth.org/foundation or by mail to RUHS Foundation at PO Box 9850, Moreno Valley, CA 92552. Any supporters of corporations and foundations that require additional details for plans to support the Turpin siblings should contact RUHS Foundation at email@example.com.
The Corona Chamber of Commerce is also accepting monetary donations to benefit the family after all of the hygiene and clothing donations have been met.