20/20 takes in-depth look at horrors faced by 13 siblings held captive in California

NOW: 20/20 takes in-depth look at horrors faced by 13 siblings held captive in California

ABC's 20/20 will have an in-depth report Friday night about the 13 children who were held captive inside their California home.

ABC's Matt Gutman spoke with ABC57's Emily Evans about the case that has captivated the nation.

Emily: This is already a surprising and shocking story with the facts that we know so far, as you dug deeper into this, was there anything you found to be more shocking?

Matt: We've sent teams for this 20/20 special across the country, West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio, Texas, California to try to dig into this family's past, and everywhere we go, we learn about the alleged depravity. The children were shackled to beds for months at a time, literally not leaving to use the restroom for infractions as small as washing their hands above the wrist. They were allowed to bathe once a year. Their calories were so severely limited, that they suffered starvation that led to cognitive and physical development being stunted.

Emily: You mentioned that abuse, how do you recover from something like that physically, mentally, emotionally? How are doctors proceeding with their recovery and what's the prognosis so far?

MATT: Physically there's not that much you can do. They're nourishing them very slowly to try to allow them to gain weight. But these kids are not going to grow more than they have and their growth has been stunted. Cognitively, we're not exactly sure yet. They are literally going to have to be re-introduced to the world.

Emily: You also mentioned you talked to Louise's sister, the children's aunt. A lot of people may be wondering, how much did she know? How could she not know about this?

Matt: She says she hasn't really spent much time with the family in 20 years. But one of the things that really struck her was the creepiness of David and Louise. So she would be in the shower, lock the door, and Louise would use a coat hanger to break the lock and Louise and David would watch her shower. But again, everyone we've talked to across this country in interviews that our teams have done, everybody says they saw small pieces, but not the totality of what prosecutors are right now alleging happened in that house behind me.

Matt added because the children are so close, that is their only strength. The state is doing everything it can to keep all 13 siblings together as a family unit.

The 20/20 special airs at 10 p.m. Friday, January 19 on ABC57. 


This week a story made national headlines when, according to authorities, 13 siblings were found captive inside a California home. The siblings ranged in age from 2 to 29 years old and were only discovered when one of the siblings, a 17-year-old-girl, escaped and called 911, telling authorities about their harrowing situation. The local sheriff’s office reportedly found some of the children “shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks.” “20/20” has the latest reporting on what life was like inside what authorities are characterizing as a house of horrors and on parents David and Louise Turpin, who were arrested on charges of torture and child endangerment. The hour details the severe child abuse the children were allegedly subjected to including beatings and strangulation and features information from those who knew the family. It also explores the question of whether warning signs were missed that could have alerted authorities far earlier to the alleged abuse. “20/20” airs on Friday, January 19 (10:00 – 11:00 p.m. ET) on ABC.

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