The sister of the woman arrested after the discovery of the California ‘house of horrors’ where 13 children were kept in near starvation and often shackled has opened up about the moment she heard about the alleged torture and abuse.
Teresa Robinette, told Fox News that she was at home cooking and cleaning when she heard that her sister Louise Turpin and her husband David were accused of torturing their children, aged 2 to 29 .
Ms Robinette recalled: “And then [our sister] Elizabeth called. She told me to sit down… I looked at the news and I just – I don’t really know how to describe the feeling to you”.
“I really felt like I was waiting to wake up. Like I was having a nightmare. For a long time, I kept saying I wanted to wake up.
“I felt like it wasn’t real… I kept saying, ‘Is this real news?’… Then I just got mad. My next emotion was anger… And I’m still mad.”
Ms Robinette has spoken in a documentary called: The Turpin 13: Family Secrets Exposed which is airing on US network Oxygen on Saturday.
She told Fox News she did not want people to think she had something to hide, after experiencing accusations that she must have known what had allegedly been unfolding.
“If we didn’t come forward, people would have felt like we knew things and we were attempting to cover them up because I’m her sister… But there’s no way we would have stood for that. That’s why she distanced herself from us.”
Ms Robinette said she had wondered why her sister had begun to distance herself from family over the years but claimed she never witnessed any abuse, FOX News reports.
Ms Robinette said she had only met the four oldest children in person and the others she had only seen via video chat.
“I don’t even know if you can say any of us had a relationship with the children,” she explained.
She alleges eventually the video conversations became strange.
“It came to a point when eventually she stopped letting them all come together [for video chats].
“She would send a couple ones in, then send them out, and then get a couple more to come in.”
Ms Robinette added: “Then seven to eight years passed, and we didn’t video chat or anything.”
It is also reported that she had not seen Louise since 1997 or 1998, and that her last interaction with the children had been sometime around 2009-2010.
The Turpins’ alleged crimes were uncovered when their 17-year-old daughter broke free through a window of their home before using a deactivated mobile phone to call police.
Another sibling escaped with her, but decided to turn back out because she was so fearful.
Prosecutors filed 12 counts of torture, seven counts of dependent adult abuse, six counts of child abuse and 12 counts of false imprisonment against the couple.
David Turpin was additionally charged with one count of a lewd act on a child under age 14.
Describing what the siblings endured as “severe, emotional, physical abuse”, Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin also revealed the children were not allowed to shower more than once a year.