I was recently reflecting upon how blessed I am to have parents who love and support each other and also love, support and encourage myself and my siblings. This thought came to me as I sat in my neurologist’s office the other day waiting for one of my regular checkups. As most of you know, I suffer from Epilepsy. I’m not allowed to drive and I even recently had to leave my job because the resulting stress levels were triggering my seizures. You can imagine how frustrating this has been financially. As a 32-year-old adult, I desperately want to have some semblance of independency — to be able to take myself where I need to go and to provide for myself to the best of my abilities. Unfortunately, this has been impossible for the most part, primarily because of my medical situation.
Anyway, my mom had taken me to this particular appointment and I knew that she would have to cover my copay and the upcoming medication refill. I was flat broke. Of course, she was more than happy to do so and even bought me breakfast on the way home. If she reads this column, she’ll probably kill me for bragging on her. That’s alright though. Besides, she and my dad do this sort of thing all the time. I could sit here all day and give you a million examples of how many ways they’ve supported me financially, emotionally, physically and spiritually over the years. Unlike my younger brother and sister, I’m unable to live by myself, so — until or unless I get married — I’m not even sure what the future will hold. Thankfully for now, though, God has my parents right where they need to be in my life.
Sadly, this is not the case for so many children, teens and millennials these days. Not only do many of them grow up without mothers and fathers, but some are suffering untold horrors at the hands of their parents. This was the case recently in Riverside County, California where David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, have been accused and charged with the torture and abuse of their 13 kids. According to prosecutors, the victims — which ranged in age from 2 to 29 — were “tied up with ropes, with one victim hogtied. When one victim slipped out of the ropes…it is alleged that the Turpins switched to chains and padlocks for tighter security.” All of the children were severely malnourished and appeared to have undergone years of abuse and starvation.
Thankfully, the 17-year-old daughter finally managed to escape and alert local law enforcement. When the sheriffs showed up on the scene, they reported finding the other 12 kids in a stinky, gross, disgusting, dank, dirty environment. An ongoing investigation has revealed that the children were severely abused and punished for months at a time, subjected to “frequent beatings and even strangulation.” Moreover, they weren’t allowed to go to the bathroom and were restricted to one shower per year. Human waste was everywhere. They had never been given dental care and apparently hadn’t even seen a doctor in over four years.
You can imagine the scene.
From a strictly legal standpoint, David and Louise are innocent until proven guilty. There’s another court date set for February 23, although I don’t expect it to go well for this couple, considering the $12 million bail and potential 94 years to life in prison.
One of the most mind-boggling things about this whole story, though, is the silence of the neighbors, some of who were quoted in interviews as saying that they noticed the children appeared younger than their chronological ages. They even said the kids looked “invisible” because of the malnourishment. How could no one have reported these observations to Child Protective Services? How do you remain silent for so long in the face of such incomprehensible evil — an evil that you could literally see and smell from next door or across the street? And then there’s the paternal grandmother, who said she hadn’t seen her own grandchildren in five years. FIVE. YEARS. How do you not question or confront that?
Well, I know how. If you don’t believe in moral absolutes or the existence of evil, it’s far less likely that you would even consider the remote possibility that something might be amiss in a situation where 13 children haven’t left their own home in a few months. Your mind will lazily make up all sorts of apathetic excuses and write the situation off as mere happenstance. You’ll tell yourself that you’re overanalyzing it. “It’s probably not that big of a deal,” you say, as the attractive suburban home two doors down becomes a secret torture chamber for children. “And if it is a bad situation, I really shouldn’t get involved.”
Why bother being the hero, right? There are other people in society for that. Police officers. Paramedics. Nurses and doctors. They’re the ones who handle this sort of thing.
But, the truth is that evil is real and we cannot afford to ignore, dismiss or deny this fact. To do so is to live in total disillusionment. Evil exists in the world. It’s part of our day-to-day lives and often takes many forms and faces. Two of those faces are in the mugshots above. You’re looking at two sociopathic parents who are so disturbed — so callous and pathologically self-absorbed — that they had no regard for the well-being and lives of their own biological children. They have no regard for life at all. And while defense lawyers or clinical psychologists might tell you that this was all some case of mental insanity or emotional breakdown, there’s simply no denying the level of evil required for a parent to torture his own child. There’s a stigma around this sort of case precisely because it is evil and everyone knows it. We all know it.
It’s the sort of cold, cruel and heartless inhumanity and utter disregard for life that you would expect to encounter in the darkest depths of a World War II Nazi ghetto Holocaust prison. That’s why our culture sees a situation like this and instantly knows, “This is wrong. This is atrocious. This is barbaric.” Something deep within us — deep in our souls and our conscience — will always recognize it as evil. Whether we’ll admit it or not is another story. Whether we’ll confront it or not remains to be seen.
Albert Einstein once famously said, “God did not create evil. Just as darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of God.”
That’s what happened here. The absence of God in the depraved souls of these parents led to a House of Horrors from which 13 precious children had to be rescued. In their rejection of God and morality, these parents made evil decisions that would bring untold terror and carnage upon their own family. That’s what evil does when you allow it to influence your life. It hurts those around you and leaves nothing but pain, death and destruction in its wake.
How many thousands of people go about their daily routines in this nation staring evil in the face, utterly oblivious, unaware and unconcerned with its existence?
Don’t be one of those people. For God’s sake, don’t be one of those people.