Louise Turpin had a shopping and gambling addiction

What happened to the 13 Turpin children is unimaginable. The children grew up starving, were constantly in filth, were chained up for punishment, and were denied basic education. Even after they reached legal age, they were unable to leave the horrible captivity at the hands of their parents, Louise and David Turpin, until 17-year-old Jordan Turpin took a chance to escape and call 911. Although their family was large, the father David was a computer engineer who always had a good job, but it wasn’t enough to sustain shopping and gambling addictions. Financial strain from poor personal decisions and compulsions is woven deep into the horrible Turpin family story.

Most of the time the family lived in darkness and squalor, but they were sometimes allowed to clean up for lavish trips and photo opportunities meant to fool the Turpin’s extended family into thinking everything was ok.

A 2018 book by Louise Turpin’s sister, Elizabeth Flores, called Sisters of Secrets: The Story Of Sisters Leading Up To The Turpin Case Arrest (affiliate link) pulled back the curtain on some of the behaviors that contributed to the Turpin’s abusive home.

Both David and Louise gambled often, but Elizabeth claimed it was Louise who would gamble until all of their money was gone. She would joke about having a gambling addiction, but it the problem was very real. The couple first filed for bankruptcy in 1992, but many more bankruptcies would follow.

Gambling wasn’t the only money problem the Turpins had. As documented in the recent 20/20 special, Louise would often go on lavishly cruel shopping sprees of toys and children’s clothes. Of course, it would make sense that a mother of so many children would buy these things, but the problem was that it was an excessive amount they couldn’t afford and the children weren’t allowed to play with the toys or wear the clothes. Instead, they had to wear the same soiled clothing they always wore while Louise’s purchases At one of their homes, a whole row of brand new bikes were lined up outside the house, but never touched by the kids.

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