Home » Blogs » Narcissism Meets Normalcy » Smiling Devils – The Infamous Turpins and their Shackled Children

Smiling Devils – The Infamous Turpins and their Shackled Children

Nothing makes me more furious than when one human being holds another human being against their will — whether the victim realizes it or not, regardless of whether their shackles are physical or mental, emotional, spiritual or financial. I’m convinced it happens much more than we realize. Hell, it happened to me! It may’ve happened to you. Almost weekly, the DailyMail runs a horrific story about a forgotten person(s) discovered in a shed, a basement, a filthy bedroom.

David and Louise Turpin made the headline of the DailyMail on Monday, January 15th, 2017. This retiring, hermitesque family found their faces splashed worldwide with thousands of shares and comments. Thirteen children! Seven of them adults ranging in age from eighteen to twenty-nine. Skin and bones. Starving and allegedly shackled with padlocks and chains. Filthy. Rarely let outdoors and then, only at night. Speaking to no one. As pale as vampires.

Bail is set at $9 million – each! Torture and child endangerment the charges. Is that all!?! What about the lost time of adulthood their children will never regain? Life skills? Career advancement? Emotional distress and suffering? Missed relationships? One can only hope they will be court ordered to pay restitution to their adult children for everything they missed, although mere money can never make up for everything they have lost.

And I’ll bet you dollars to donuts, father David Turpin will go to his grave unbowed, unbroken and unrepentant — defending what he did, claiming he did it for the childrens’ safety. Because he can. Because he’s the head of the family. Twisting Scripture. Whatever bullshit excuse he’s used to assuage his conscience for all these years, to brainwash his wide-eyed, adoring wife/co-criminal.

The truth is, he’s not a father. He’s an “owner.” To him, his children are simply possessions, little Lego dolls to whom he can do anything he wants. The photograph of the Turpin children wearing “Thing 1,” “Thing 2″…”Thing 13” t-shirts is damn right. That’s all his kids are to him: things! David Canter, emeritus professor of investigative psychology at the University of Liverpool wrote in the Independent, “Here is a family that thinks it’s a joke to number everyone rather than give them names and refer to them as “things”.

When is this going to stop!?! Almost every week a filthy, impregnated abductee is discovered in a cellar with a bucket for a toilet. (In my early twenties, my family denied me bathroom privileges at nighttime. Can you imagine how bad your bedroom smells when you take a shit in the bucket you’re forced to use and then sleep with that stink all night? Been there!)

Or a grown woman is released from her childhood bedroom where her mother held her, convincing her and the doctors that she’s disabled, cackling delightedly over her monthly SSDI checks. And that’s just at the dark end of the spectrum.

What about all the women, girls and yes, even men, in cults? Whether they wear normal clothes or the one-pattern-fits-no-one dresses with identical shoes and hairstyles, they too are being held against their will. They too are being abused. They just don’t know it.

The worst shackles are not on wrists; they’re in the mind. That’s where the fences are: in their minds. Handcuffs are obvious. Everyone knows they’re wrong.

But the fences in the mind are hard to identify. Those fences wear so many faces. There’s the “It’s for your own safety” fence. That one looks like a cute white picket fence, beautifully trailing with ivy. There’s the “Don’t leave me! You’re my only friend. I love you so much!” fence. It’s chainlink with a “Beware of Dog” sign attached. There’s the “It’s not safe out there!” fence. That one is ten feet tall with barbed wire on top, leaning inwards.

Hostages are brainwashed to believe the fences are designed to keep dangerous people out. NO! They’re to keep the hostage in. Build those mental fences properly and physical shackles aren’t necessary.

Without turning into a Big Brother Orwellian nightmare, we as a society need to be proactive to help those held hostage, whether physically or mentally. The Turpin’s neighbors had seen the children and noted their paleness, their silence, their look of being malnourished, but they said nothing. Never called for a Welfare Check. Never alerted CPS. Now they have to live with their guilt.

Cult leaders must be reported to police before another twelve-year-old girl becomes a sister-wife to a pedophile thumping a Bible. Relatives need to counsel their friends, coworkers, nieces, nephews and help them to understand that all those fences-in-their-minds are not loving, but actually abuse. They need to create a safe place where the hostage can admit their situation without shame. No one did that for me. I was too ashamed to talk to anyone about my fences, my curfew, all the Thou-Shalt-Nots that kept me held against my will until the age of thirty-one. Too brainwashed to realize that excuses like “God” and “safety” don’t make it okay to hold a grown woman against her will! Stockholm Syndrome indeed!

Neighbors should act, speak up, notify the authorities before another adult child, like the Turpins twenty-nine-year-old son wastes their entire twenties as a hostage. Police need to take claims of “I glimpsed a white face at the window” seriously. When I reported my own situation to the police, they blew me off. I have since notified them of how wrong they were.

You and I will be watching the Turpin situation as it rolls out in the coming days and weeks. I’ve contacted their immediate family for comment and will be shocked if they respond. But one thing is for sure: Whatever the Turpins’ reason or excuse, holding another human being is evil. It’s wicked. And there is never, ever a valid excuse!

Smiling Devils – The Infamous Turpins and their Shackled Children

Lenora Thompson

Lenora Thompson is a syndicated Huffington Post freelance writer and food blogger. Her readers call her the "Edward Snowden" and "Wikileaks" of narcissism because of her no-holds-barred-take-no-prisoners approach to writing about narcissism. “Narcissism Meets Normalcy” is the real-life, ongoing story of her healing journey from being held “hostage” by a multi-generational, cult-like narcissistic family. It's gritty and real, bloody and bruised, humorous and sarcastic. Lenora Thompson considers herself a “whistleblower,” shining a spotlight on narcissistic abuse so others can also claim their freedom and experience healing. To learn more about Lenora, her husband Michael's heroic battle with Pulmonary Alveolar Proteinosis and to read her writings about food, please visit Thank you!

5 comments: View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Thompson, L. (2018). Smiling Devils – The Infamous Turpins and their Shackled Children. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 9, 2020, from


Last updated: 16 Jan 2018
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.