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'House of Horrors': The Zengeza Saga, Not the First, or Last

The unfolding case of a man reportedly kept locked in the house for more than a decade in Zengeza 3, Chitungwiza has shocked the world.  Whe...

The unfolding case of a man reportedly kept locked in the house for more than a decade in Zengeza 3, Chitungwiza has shocked the world. 

When the police pitched, they found a decomposing body, identified as the husband last seen a decade back, together with a mentally unstable man, Grant Mhlahla, whom the neighbors believed was now based in the UK. 

The mother, a secretive character according to neighbors lived a secluded lifestyle and was the only one seen outside the home, for years. 

But recently, she lost keys to her house and when she asked for help from a locksmith, all hell broke loose, the skeletons in the cupboard came tumbling down. However, this is not the only case of children who were forcibly confined to the house by their parents. 

In January 2018, Jordan Turpin managed to escape from the house of bondage and called 911, freeing herself and her siblings from the family’s house of horrors in Perris, California.

After enduring more than a decade of horrific abuse and captivity, Jennifer Turpin and her 12 siblings had just watched California sheriff’s deputies take their parents away in handcuffs.

The frail and malnourished Turpin children were now in a hospital, where they received food, clean clothes, medical treatment, kindness from strangers -- things the siblings rarely, or in some cases never, had before.
'House of Horrors': The Zengeza Saga, Not the First, or Last 

Looking around her hospital room that January morning, Jennifer Turpin realized for the first time they were finally free, and she danced.

“Music was playing, I got up,” Jennifer Turpin, now 33, told ABC News' Diane Sawyer in an exclusive interview. “I made sure there was a little bit of a floor cleared out and I danced.”

Jennifer Turpin, and one of her sisters, Jordan Turpin, are telling their story for the first time in an exclusive interview with Sawyer. They are the first of the 13 Turpin children to share their stories. 

In their interview, the Turpin daughters described years of their parents, David and Louise Turpin, abusing them and their siblings, some of whom were shackled to beds for months at a time, and being deprived of food, hygiene, education and health care.

It was Jordan Turpin who managed to escape on Jan. 14, 2018, and call 911, freeing herself and her siblings from the family’s house of horrors in Perris, California.

“I knew I would die if I got caught," said Jordan Turpin, now 21. "I think it was us coming so close to death so many times. If something happened to me, at least I died trying."

David and Louise Turpin are now in prison. They pleaded guilty to charges including torture and false imprisonment. In 2019, they were sentenced to 25 years to life.

When Jennifer, the eldest Turpin child, was an infant, she said she and her parents lived in a nice neighborhood in Fort Worth, Texas. Her father worked as an electrical engineer and her mother was a homemaker. 

Both were originally from West Virginia and grew up as devout members of the same conservative pentecostal church. Their new house eventually became filthy, Jennifer Turpin said, covered in mold, dirt and trash. The mother she used to adore started having violent mood swings when she was still very little, she said.

“I never knew which side I was going to get of her,” she said. “If I was going to ask her a question, [is] she going to call me stupid or something… and then yank me across the floor or [is] she going to be nice and answer my question.”

Jennifer Turpin said she attended public school from first through third grade, but then her parents took her out. During that time, she said she was sent to school unwashed, often wearing the same dirty clothes over and over. The other students “didn’t want to be my friend,” she said.

“They called me skinny bones and acted like they didn’t want to be around me,” she said. “I probably smelled. But I didn’t realize at the time I smelled, but that stench clings to you… because we would literally live in houses piled with trash.”

By 1999, Jennifer Turpin said they had moved to an isolated home in Rio Vista, Texas. As more children were born, Jennifer said neglect from their parents turned into physical abuse, and they would use parts of the Bible to explain their behavior.

“They loved to point out things in Deuteronomy, saying that, ‘We have the right to do this to you.’ … that they had the right to even kill us if we didn’t listen,” she said.

According to the sisters, their parents would abuse them for even the most minor things. If a child colored outside of the lines, Jennifer Turpin said their mother might pull their hair or throw them across the room. 

One time, Jennifer said one of her siblings was caught in their mother’s bedroom, and their mother threw her and then pushed the child down the stairs. Her father, she said, used belts and sticks to whip the children until they bled. Jennifer recalled one moment when she said her father picked her up, feet off the floor, and slammed her into a wall.

“I knew he [was] saying that I was the devil,” she said. “I’m just looking at him like, ‘what did I do?’”

Every day, she said, she woke up in terror. “I was afraid to do one little thing wrong,” Jennifer Turpin said. “If I did one little thing wrong, I was going to be beaten… until I bled.”

Again in 2019, seven children were discovered living in 'horrific conditions' and two of them were locked inside a room at a house in South Carolina, police said.

Erik Perez-Viera and Diana Salbon, the parents of five of the children, were arrested on Wednesday and were each charged with five counts of unlawful conduct toward a child.

Berkeley County Sheriff's Office said an inspector with a property management company alerted authorities to concerns about the home at 122 Patriot Lane in Summerville on Wednesday.

He found a 3-year-old and 5-year-old locked in a bedroom with a deadbolt and called 911. Chief Deputy Jeremy Baker said the children, ranging in ages from 1 to 5, were taken into the care of South Carolina Department of Social Services.

Deputies determined Perez-Viera and Salbon were the parents of five of the children, Baker told The Post and Courier. Human and animal feces were found in two bedrooms upstairs, as well as trash, WCSC reported.

Perez-Viera and Salbon also had their child, 1, at the doctor at the time as two other children were at school. Another woman was living downstairs in the same house with two of her own children who were also at school at the time, but she has not been charged in relation to the case, the news outlet reported.

She was subletting the upstairs area to Perez-Vera and Salbon at the time of their arrest. The landlord claimed officials were carrying out a home inspection and discovered the deadbolts.

Another couple was also living in the garage of the home and they were not home when the arrests were made. There were a total of 12 people living in the house, according to WCSC.

Meagan Quals, who lives in the Berkeley Commons neighborhood, claimed she witnessed the children being taken out of the home amid a large law enforcement presence. She told ABC4: 'They've been here for about a year. Multiple cars in and out, always parked on the streets.

'A bunch of guys that were construction, and the females kind of looked like they were in the cleaning business would kind of leave earlier in the mornings, and then evening times when I came home from work I would see them back in.'

She claimed the occupants had received numerous fines for leaving furniture on the front curb according to her father, who is president of the neighborhood HOA.

'They have multiple fines for having stuff on the street, on the curb. We're not supposed to have those parked in the road.

'After hours they've had multiple fines with that, and with them renting the fines go to the actual homeowners.To see that this is one of our neighborhood kids locked away it's, it's heartbreaking,' Quals added.

Another resident Lindsay Aggen said the suspects kept to themselves, she said.

She said there were signs of activity at around 6.30am when someone was leaving the home but neighbors did not think anything of it until news of the arrests spread.

Aggen told the Post and Courier: '[It] makes me sick, honestly. I feel bad that all of this was happening and nobody knew until now. ... I have never seen a kid in or outside of this home.

'There’s always construction-looking vehicles parked there and every trash day [Wednesdays] there’s an abundance of trash out front. I honestly thought the home was being flipped/renovated.'

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