Duggars, narcissists, true crime

“It is finished.” Jury does the Lord’s work and finds Josh Duggar guilty!

I had kind of a busy day yesterday, although I was keeping an eye on the news. I had a feeling we’d finally get the verdict in Josh Duggar’s federal court case. I knew he was going to be found guilty, but there were some people who were a bit nervous, since the jury was taking some time to come to a decision. And, although my gut feelings are usually pretty accurate, there’s always a chance for surprises.

There were no surprises yesterday. Josh Duggar is now a convicted sex offender. In a few months, he will get his sentence and be off to prison, likely somewhere far from Arkansas. Below is his mugshot, which is bizarre looking. Who smiles for a mug shot taken under such shameful circumstances?

I stand by my assertion that this man is a psychopath.

Like many people, I’ve been following the Duggar Family News Facebook page, as well as the private group that is associated with it. Some people are saying that Josh is smiling because he’s being like the Paul the Apostle. It was explained that Josh’s children are being taught that their father is being persecuted. I don’t know much about the story of Paul, but one thing I do remember hearing is that Paul was famously misogynistic. Given the way Josh reportedly treats women, perhaps the moniker fits somewhat. In any case, I’m sure that Josh’s older children, who know their father and will miss him, have to be told something about why he’s not going to be home with them anymore. Or… maybe Josh is out of his mind.

I first became aware of Josh’s conviction because of a friend. Although I had been paying attention to the news yesterday, I turned my attention away from it for awhile to watch Call the Midwife. When I checked Facebook again, I noticed I was tagged in a news article. It was just the first tag. I probably ought to stop following the Duggars. I think people who follow them contribute to Jim Bob Duggar’s delusions of grandeur. The truth is, that family isn’t any more blessed than any other family is, in spite of all of the “blessings” God supposedly sent them, courtesy of Michelle Duggar’s hyperactive womb fertilized by a man who no doubt encouraged his eldest son to go down a very dark road.

Josh will spend the next few months locked up in county jail. It will suck a lot for him. According to Jessica Kent, a former convict who now has a very popular YouTube channel, being locked up in county jail sucks because there’s nothing to do, and inmates are generally locked down most of the time. Jessica even did time in Arkansas, so she has a concept of what it’s like where Josh is, although she was arrested in Fort Smith, while Josh is in Fayetteville. An interesting side note– my husband, Bill, lived in Fort Smith, Arkansas at the end of his first marriage. That’s why he was a member of the Arkansas National Guard.

In any case, it was early evening when I found out about Josh’s fate, but Josh was locked up at about noon his time. He’s currently spending his first night as a convicted sex offender, and in a matter of months, he will probably leave Arkansas for a federal prison in a location where his deviant sexual proclivities and the security risks associated with them can be dealt with appropriately. Before he gets his assignment, he will probably be taken to another facility, where he will be classified.

I don’t know too much about that process, but I do remember reading a book called Fish by T.J. Parsell, in which the process of being classified was described as very unpleasant. Parsell’s situation was not like Josh’s. His story is about being a boy in a man’s prison. I read that book in the spring of 2009, when we lived in Germany the first time. I remember being very affected by that story, as Parsell was not a sex offender. Instead, he was a victim of a brutal prison rape that occurred after he was drugged by other inmates.

I think my opinions about prisoners changed when I read that book. On the other hand, I do think Josh Duggar’s conviction was entirely appropriate. I don’t wish for him to be harmed by other prisoners… but I won’t be surprised if it happens. Child molesters are definitely at the bottom of the totem pole in a prison environment. And the fact that Josh comes from a relatively wealthy family and was a reality TV star may make him especially attractive to other inmates.

I just read an interesting 2017 era article titled “Where do federal sex offenders go to prison?” It was written by Zachary Margulis Ohnuma about Anthony Weiner, a former Congressman who was convicted and sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for sexting with a 15 year old. The author of the article points out that the sex offender treatment offered in prison may put Josh Duggar in even more jeopardy. He writes:

While it is true that BOP offers sex offender treatment in prison, experiences vary — and the Fifth Amendment right to silence does not carry a lot of weight. Inmates in sex offender programs are surrounded by other sex offenders. They are pushed by counsellors to admit to doing more than they admitted to in court. After all, the philosophy goes, not everyone gets caught for every crime they ever committed. While sex offender treatment has been shown, as a general matter, to be effective, the programs offered in prison are akin to the food on offer there — not something you would want to partake of unless it was absolutely necessary.

I would imagine that Josh will go to a prison where he can get treatment. I don’t know if he will be forced to accept treatment. In any case, having looked at the official Web site for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, it does not appear that Arkansas offers any facilities that provide treatment for sex offenders. There are two facilities in Texas and one in Illinois that have sex offender treatment programs. Those would be the closest to Arkansas. I don’t know what that will mean for Josh’s wife, Anna, and their seven children. My guess is that they’ll stay in Arkansas, but one never knows.

Anna has been incredibly loyal to Josh, in spite of his many obvious shortcomings. That loyalty may end up working against her. As it stands now, it’s possible that Anna could soon face charges herself, especially if it’s discovered that she turned a blind eye toward any abuse perpetrated by Josh toward the children. I suspect that her children will be interviewed by child protective services, if that hasn’t yet happened. Those kids have already had to cope with their father being forced out of the home and their mother spending most of her time with him, instead of them. I’m sure that CPS will want to know a lot more about how the children are doing, now that their father is a convicted sex offender.

I can’t help thinking about how bizarre all of this must be for the children in the Duggar family. I don’t just mean Josh’s children, but also his brothers and sisters and their children. The cognitive dissonance must be incredible. Josh has done some terrible things and has brought shame to his family. But his parents are “praying” for him, and did all they could to help him, while they cast out one of his victims. And Jim Bob is still campaigning to be elected to the Arkansas Senate. I think if Jim Bob is elected, I will lose all hope for humanity in Arkansas.

I get the impression that Jim Bob sort of runs a cult with a cult. Yesterday, I wrote a book review about a woman who was raised in Bill Gothard’s cult– the same one the Duggars are in. Being raised in Gothard’s ATI and IBLP is bad enough. But I think the Duggar family goes further than that. I think Jim Bob is the head of his own cult, where there are many “alternative facts” and “alternative realities” that everyone within the sphere must adhere to. Jim Bob clearly has his own versions of events. In fact, he clearly lies when the situation suits him, even though that goes against Biblical principles. He tells his children to tell the truth and repent, but those rules don’t apply to Jim Bob.

Anyone within Jim Bob Duggar’s sphere has to do what he wants them to do. Those who can’t or won’t follow his rules and devote themselves to him will soon find themselves cast out of the family circle. What Jim Bob is doing is nothing unusual among narcissists. I’ve seen my husband’s ex wife do the same thing to her family members. Anyone who won’t adhere to her fantasy world gets cast out because people who speak the truth and see things clearly are a threat to her power. I think Jim Bob runs his family and church like that.

This wasn’t the guy I saw, but you get the idea.

Years ago, I wrote a blog post about an experience I had when I was in college, back in the early 1990s. I remember a hypnotist came to our school and put on a very entertaining show. Volunteers were brought up on stage and the hypnotist would put them under, then make them do hilarious things. Along with the volunteers, there were also spotters who were tasked with helping the hypnotist. Anyone participating who didn’t fall under his spell was escorted off stage. This was because those who didn’t fall under hypnosis threatened the act. I don’t think it’s that much different when it comes to people like Jim Bob and Ex. Those who don’t fall under the spell need to be escorted out so they don’t “ruin” the illusion for others.

I think Jill Dillard used to be among the biggest believers in Jim Bob’s “mini cult”. But she has been deprogrammed by her husband, Derick. Jill and Derick have been ostracized by the family, even though Jill is one of Josh’s victims. If anything, Jim Bob should have been protecting her and the rest of his daughters from his deviant son. But, instead of being supportive and loving of Jill, Jim Bob has made her and her family unwelcome. In the long run, this is probably a better thing for Jill, but it still means she’s lost her family of origin. She serves as an example to others, keeping them “in line” by showing them that if they disobey, they will be ostracized. The same thing goes for “cousin Amy”, who has also spoken out against Jim Bob. The minute she did that, she was cast out of the fold.

Jim Bob rewards his followers with homes, jobs, and money. But the minute the see the truth and speak it– the minute they think for themselves and act accordingly– they have to be escorted out, much like those resistant people from the hypnotist’s show. What they may not understand is that there are people outside of that cult system who can and will help them. They don’t have to cling to the bad situation. They can make the courageous choice to escape, once they are over 18. A few of Jim Bob’s children have made that choice, but some of the others are still firmly entrenched. No matter what, as long as there is breath in Jim Bob’s body, he will always see his children as his possessions– even the ones he’s cast out of the family circle. If there’s anything I have learned about narcissistic parents, it’s that they almost never let anyone go completely.

We’ll see what the future holds. One thing is for certain, though. Josh Duggar’s days as a free man are over. He’s going away, and probably for a long time. His children will surely be safer without him around, but it’s still a hard thing for them. No matter what, he’s still their father, and they will always have a connection to him. I think if anyone needs and deserves prayers, it’s the children who have been harmed by Josh… or any other pervert who preys on the innocent.

The sad thing is, as horrible and disgusting as Josh Duggar’s actions are, there are still people who are much worse than he is. Bill and I were talking about this over breakfast. I think Larry Nassar is worse. I can think of some much lesser known people I think are worse, or have committed worse crimes. For instance, Brian and Shannon Gore, who were from my hometown, committed absolutely heinous child abuse that resulted in one child’s death and another’s permanent damage to her health. So… I try to keep that in mind as I gaze at Josh Duggar’s strangely happy looking visage in his mug shot. But this prison experience will probably be just the beginning for the horrors of Josh Duggar’s life from now on. Maybe God will have mercy on him… but I doubt his fellow inmates will.

Below is a link to Fish, the book I mentioned up post. If you purchase through the link, I will get a small commission from Amazon. I will warn that the book is not for the faint of heart.

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Duggars, law, mental health, psychology

Josh Duggar must be a full on psychopath… there’s just no other explanation!

Today’s featured photo is a screenshot of video taken by KHBS of Josh and Anna leaving court in September. What in the world would make the two of them smile at this point in time? It just defies logic.

Good morning, y’all. I had a completely different topic in mind this morning. I was fully intending to write about something else that has nothing to to do with Josh Duggar. I might be back later to write my originally conceived post. And before I get started, I want to issue a strong warning to anyone who is easily triggered. This post is going to be extremely disturbing and dark. Please proceed with caution.

Still with me? Okay…

Yesterday, it was reported in The Sun that Josh Duggar’s distant relative, Matthew Waller, took the stand during Josh’s court proceedings. Waller was the only other employee at Josh’s used car lot, which is where Josh’s HP desktop computer was located. This was the computer that had the illicit “CP” material on it that has Josh in so much legal trouble today. Waller had initially said that he didn’t know the password to the dark web on Josh’s computer, but when defense attorneys asked if he recognized the phrase “Intel1988”, he said it “rang a bell”. This revelation showed that it was possible that someone else had access to the dark web on that computer and might have downloaded the illegal material.

US Assistant Attorney Dustin Roberts reportedly responded with fury. According to The Sun, he “screamed” at Waller, demanding, “Was there something you’re not telling me? You didn’t tell me or law enforcement about Intel1988? I told you I thought you were hiding something from me.”

Roberts continued, “You’re recalling today knowing about Intel1988, after talking to Homeland Security, then the defense?”

Waller reportedly said that he hadn’t remembered the password when he was questioned by federal agents, but now that the defense attorneys were mentioning it, he’d had a sudden flash of recall. Waller said the password was “vaguely familiar.” So what does that mean? Is Waller admitting that he could have been the culprit? And why would he do that? But then it gets even sicker, and much more disturbing.

Yesterday, it was revealed during Josh Duggar’s trial that federal agents located a folder on Josh’s computer that had 65 thumbnail files of cached downloads. In the folder that the agents found, there was a video of a three month old baby being tortured and abused. There were many more videos and images found on the computer, although experts couldn’t say whether or not Josh had viewed any of them. Meanwhile, Josh and his lawyers have been doing their very best to try to pin the blame on someone else– anyone else— who might pay the price for Josh’s alleged disgusting crimes.

It was also reported that Josh’s wife, Anna, who has, in the last six weeks, just had her seventh baby with Josh– another girl– abruptly left the courtroom before this very disturbing evidence was disclosed. Below is a video Katie Joy of Without a Crystal Ball made. I know Katie Joy is a controversial YouTube personality, but her explanation of what was discovered is probably good enough for those who want to know more. Additionally, some of the court transcripts are available here.

More on what was disclosed during Josh Duggar’s trial yesterday. Proceed with caution.

I don’t even know how the people in that courtroom could stand to hear about what was found on the computer, let alone view some of the images and videos. I think I read that they were, at least, spared the footage of the infant being abused. What a sick, vile, revolting discovery. There are just no words for how completely horrible this is. And now I sit here thinking that, for years, the Duggars were held up as this wonderful Christian family, with Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar bragging about how God kept “blessing” them with children. Josh, as the oldest, was the very first of their many “blessings from God.”

We now know that Josh has zero respect for other people’s “blessings from God”, does he? He had no heart for the victims who were abused and tortured for his own sexual gratification. I am convinced that he is a very sick man, and if he doesn’t go to prison for this, I suspect he will have a short life and not a moment’s peace until he goes straight to Hell.

I really think Josh must be a full on psychopath. Or… to use a more official term, he’s probably an individual with antisocial personality disorder. And no, I am not qualified to “diagnose” anyone, nor does this opinion count as a diagnosis. This is just an educated guess. But I really think Josh has a lot of the signs and symptoms of someone with antisocial personality disorder. Fortunately, there aren’t too many of them in the world. According to Dr. Todd Grande’s video below, 3% of males and 1% of females in the general population could be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder.

According to the Mayo Clinic, these are the symptoms of antisocial personality disorder:

  • Disregard for right and wrong
  • Persistent lying or deceit to exploit others
  • Being callous, cynical and disrespectful of others
  • Using charm or wit to manipulate others for personal gain or personal pleasure
  • Arrogance, a sense of superiority and being extremely opinionated
  • Recurring problems with the law, including criminal behavior
  • Repeatedly violating the rights of others through intimidation and dishonesty
  • Impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead
  • Hostility, significant irritability, agitation, aggression or violence
  • Lack of empathy for others and lack of remorse about harming others
  • Unnecessary risk-taking or dangerous behavior with no regard for the safety of self or others
  • Poor or abusive relationships
  • Failure to consider the negative consequences of behavior or learn from them
  • Being consistently irresponsible and repeatedly failing to fulfill work or financial obligations

The symptoms usually appear in adults with antisocial personality disorder before they’re fifteen years old. As it’s been widely reported, Josh was having issues with abusing children when he was thirteen or fourteen. He was fourteen when he admitted to abusing four of his younger sisters and a babysitter. The Mayo Clinic continues:

Signs and symptoms of conduct disorder include serious, persistent behavior problems, such as:

  • Aggression toward people and animals
  • Destruction of property
  • Deceitfulness
  • Theft
  • Serious violation of rules
Todd Grande explains what antisocial personality disorder is.

In the above video, Todd Grande explains that there is an association between child abuse and early childhood trauma and antisocial personality disorder. Grande states that some studies show that as many as 80% of incarcerated males could be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. People who have this problem do not respect laws, which often leads them to prison.

This video offers Dr. Grande’s analysis of Josh Duggar’s behavior.

In the many years before the public came to know about just how sick and perverted Josh Duggar is, he was often jokingly called “Smuggar”. I can remember reading the now defunct Television Without Pity pages about the Duggars, and the most egregiously obnoxious characters from the Duggar family were given nicknames. Josh’s nickname came from the fact that he was arrogant, but “charming”. Now we know that underneath that layer of superficial charm was a complete disaster of a human being.

For weeks, we’ve all heard about how Josh has tried to pin the blame for these charges on other people. According to Katie Joy, it even looked like Josh’s lawyers might have been able to cast reasonable doubt on the charges. But after yesterday’s bombshell dropped, I don’t think Josh is going to get away with this. If he does, there will likely be a reckoning carried out beyond the prison gates– like, I think Josh would have reason to fear for his life. I am just so sad for Josh’s innocent children, as well as all of his victims.

Whether or not he is convicted, we know that people HAVE been victimized by Josh Duggar. He has openly admitted it, and some of his victims– his sisters– have confirmed it. However, I remember when Jessa and Jill were interviewed by Megyn Kelly on Fox News, Jessa really downplayed what actually happened. In short, she LIED. But she probably did so because her father ordered her to lie. So much for following The Ten Commandments. It just shows that like his son, Jim Bob Duggar thinks he is above the law. Rules are for other people, not him.

For years, Jim Bob Duggar has justified his behavior by pointing to his huge brood of children and his significant wealth, which I’m sure is dwindling by the day, thanks to this very public trial featuring his eldest spawn. Meanwhile, his daughter Jill, who is one of Josh’s victims, is frozen out of the family circle for defying her father and trying to live life on her own terms. It’s just sick and wrong on so many levels.

It was also reported that Josh Duggar did not appear to be particularly serious while he was in court. It was said that he was smiling, cheerful, and joking with the court reporter.

I think about what it means for a person to have antisocial personality disorder. People with this problem often suffered severe child abuse and neglect when they were very young. There are also some genetic roots to this disorder. Josh is the eldest child of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. Consider that he was raised in an environment in which corporal punishment is not only tolerated, but highly encouraged. Josh’s mother, Michelle, is well-known for “blanket training” her children when they were babies.

Blanket training is a technique that is described in Michael and Debi Pearl’s very controversial childrearing book, To Train Up A Child. It involves placing a baby on a blanket or a play mat with a toy just out of reach. When the baby tries to get off of the blanket, the parent or caregiver is supposed to hit the baby with a ruler or other implement. Eventually, the baby supposedly learns not to try to leave the blanket. That technique likely comes in handy in families that have as many children as the Duggars do. However, it’s also a very sick and abusive disciplinary method. I’m sure for someone who has a genetic or environmental tendency to develop a personality disorder, blanket training and techniques resembling it are particularly damaging. I don’t know if Michelle Duggar used blanket training for Josh. She probably had no need to, since he was her first baby. However, it’s pretty clear that Josh’s father, Jim Bob Duggar, is authoritarian and, being a believer in the Old Testament, probably used harsh and possibly abusive disciplinary methods with Josh and the rest of his children.

I think of Josh being raised with that type of disciplinary method and any others that involved abuse. I also think of him likely having a much higher need for his parents’ attention, particularly if he was a budding narcissist. Imagine having that type of personality and your mother keeps having babies, each of whom diminishes the attention she can give to her other children. Every time Michelle had another baby, there was less of her to go around to the others. And I suspect that Josh, being the oldest child who had once enjoyed all of his mother’s attention, must have really resented his siblings and the attention they received. Especially the girls, whom he was taught from an early age are inferior to boys, simply because they’re girls. In the fundie Christian world, females are always subservient to males.

Now consider that Josh was married at a very young age. He wasn’t the youngest of his siblings to marry, but he was the first, and he and Anna were wed when he was just 20 years old. It was at the height of the Duggar family’s fame. I’m sure Jim Bob and Michelle felt they needed to get him married off, if not to protect their daughters from Josh’s deviance, then to give him an outlet so he didn’t do anything to destroy the family’s reputation. But now, as we can see, that tactic didn’t work. And God only knows what Anna has endured besides the humiliation of being cheated on and repeatedly impregnated by her husband, who clearly has some very serious problems and reportedly enjoys “rough sex”. She won’t leave him, though, and it really wouldn’t surprise me if she and Josh are trying for one last baby before Josh goes to prison.

It was reported that several family members attended Josh’s trial, including Austin Forsyth, who is married to Joy Anna Duggar Forsyth. Joy Anna was victimized by her brother, Josh, when she was just five years old. Derick Dillard, married to Jill Duggar Dillard, another of Josh’s victims, was also in attendance. Imagine how these two men must feel, seeing and hearing what a disgusting pervert Josh is and what he did to his sisters, who are also their wives. And yet even that wasn’t enough to satisfy Josh’s depravity. I’m sad to say this, but I think this is just the tip of the iceberg. What we’re hearing about now is probably just a fraction of what Josh has seen and done. He’s probably gotten away with a lot more than what we know.

Again… I am certainly not trying to officially diagnose Josh. I am only offering a theory that makes some sense to me. If he does have antisocial personality disorder or is a sociopath or psychopath, he will likely be in good company if he winds up in prison. As Dr. Grande says, up to 80% of incarcerated males could possibly be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, even though only 3% of males in the general population could.

I am, once again, completely horrified by this train-wreck of a story. Every time I think this situation is as bad as it can be, it gets even worse. There are few lifeforms more helpless than a three month old infant. Anyone who would enjoy watching the abuse of such a defenseless creature must be completely depraved and sick. Anyone who would conceive of, and make money off of, producing such revolting content is someone with no morals or decency whatsoever. It’s just unconscionable.

I think if there’s anything to be learned from the Duggar family, it’s that there’s almost always nasty stuff beneath the surface. People who try to hold themselves up as role models, rather than being held up that way by others, are usually hiding a lot of skeletons. Perhaps on the positive side, it does appear that locals in Arkansas are losing their enthusiasm for Jim Bob Duggar. Maybe that will mean he won’t win his Arkansas Senate election. One can only hope.

Well… we’ll see what else comes to light today. Maybe I’ll come back and write about the topic I was planning before I heard about this latest news. Or maybe I’ll save it for later. Have a good Friday.

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law, lessons learned, psychology, true crime

More thoughts on the Turpin family…

Once again, I realize there are many topics I could write about this morning. The world is in a lot of turmoil, thanks to the pandemic. Europe, in particular, is going through upheavals as COVID-19 cases climb, and fed up Europeans take to the streets to protest new restrictions. I may write about that today or tomorrow, or maybe I’ll put it on the travel blog, which needs more love. But to be honest, what’s really on my mind is the 20/20 special about the Turpin family that Bill and I watched yesterday. I blogged about our initial thoughts yesterday, but now that we’ve had a day to discuss it, and I discovered a December 2019 book review I wrote about the case, I want to write more. The book review reminded me of some details I had forgotten, which weren’t covered in Diane Sawyer’s interview.

I’ll mention again what I wrote yesterday. I am extremely impressed by Jennifer and Jordan Turpin, and their brother, Joshua, who bravely took part in Diane Sawyer’s interview. I realize that what we saw of three of the Turpin children was heavily edited. We have no way of knowing what they are like when they’re not on camera. However, as someone who has a tendency to get very nervous on camera, I must reiterate that the adult children who did participate in the interview are astonishingly bright and resilient.

I was especially moved at the end of the interview, when Jordan and Jennifer mock interviewed each other, asking each other where they saw themselves in ten years. Jennifer Turpin said she wanted to own a house and a car, and write a book. She said she wanted to visit Paris and have tea cakes. I have no doubt she’ll be able to do that if she wants to, and I hope she does write a book.

Jordan strikes me as so very smart, motivated, and curious, and she’s clearly very courageous. She appears to be very extraverted and hungry for life. While I’m sure she’s had some tough times in the almost four years since she rescued her family, she comes across as someone victorious and inspiring. I think she will eventually be just fine.

I do wonder about the other siblings, who haven’t been identified. I don’t blame them for not participating in telling this story. The “fame” that would come from outing themselves might be very damaging. I hope they are doing well, but I am not naive enough to assume that they are.

One thing that I realized in 2018, and wrote about in my post about Elizabeth Smart’s comments regarding this family, is that their situation is more challenging than hers was, simply because the Turpin kids’ parents were the perpetrators of the abuse. Elizabeth Smart went through sheer hell, but her hellish experience lasted nine months, and she had family members, friends, church people, and really, the whole country, looking for her. The Turpin kids, by contrast, were living out their hellish experience and no one knew that they needed help. David and Louise Turpin are now in prison for the rest of their lives, and apparently no one else in the family has come forward to help the children. So they are pretty much on their own, and they don’t have the benefit of having connections with caring relatives or friends to help them navigate the world they have been abruptly thrust into.

Once those kids were finally rescued, after living so many years in that hell, the Turpins were reportedly let down by the authorities and child welfare. I alluded to that possibility in my 2018 post, too. While I haven’t worked in social work for years, I know something about the foster care system. I had a feeling that once the press coverage died down, those kids might end up on their own. In most foster care systems I’ve studied, once a child turns 18, they age out of the system. Some kids are more ready for that than others are, but when you consider that the Turpins knew almost nothing about the world when they were rescued, it becomes easier to realize why they would need more help than other foster children would. Some of the children were too old to be foster kids, anyway.

Oldest brother, Joshua, who was shown in a video that he made with his back to the camera, explains that he needed help with transportation and had asked his caseworker for assistance. She told him to “Google it”. I don’t know the qualifications of Vanessa Espinoza, the deputy public guardian who was charged with helping the six adult children, but it’s clear that she failed at her job. Espinoza also works in real estate, and apparently no longer works for Riverside County. I think that’s a good thing. She clearly didn’t care at all about her clients, and wasn’t interested in helping them. How someone could be involved with helping vulnerable adults, particularly adults from the high profile Turpin case, and let them down so egregiously is beyond my comprehension.

Turpin advocate, and Riverside County Director of Victim Services, Melissa Donaldson, reports that one of the children, who is now an adult, was told by a foster parent that they could understand why her parents chained her up. Some of the other children live in bad neighborhoods or are “couch surfing”. At least one of the minor Turpin children was in a foster home where there were allegations of child abuse and was a victim of said abuse. On the 20/20 special, which was taped in July of this year, Jordan Turpin says she doesn’t have a way to get food. At the time, Jordan had been released from the foster care system without warning, and no plans as to how she might access food, shelter, and healthcare. It was reported at the end of the special that Jordan was getting housing assistance and food stamps with help from the college where she is taking courses.

My guess is that Vanessa Espinoza is not a social worker, and was basically just working in her government job to collect a paycheck. Not to say that social workers are all benevolent and kind, but that field is literally about helping people find and navigate programs that can help them when they are in need, and pursue self-determination. Regrettably, social work, as a whole, doesn’t pay particularly well. The job is often stressful and, at times, can even be dangerous. It doesn’t always attract the best and brightest, and burn out is certainly an issue.

In any case, it sounds to me like the Turpins could use a social worker in their corner who acts as their advocate– and I mean a REAL social worker, not someone who is falsely given that title, but has never actually studied social work. In spite of what some people think, social work is an actual field that requires intensive study. My MSW program was 60 hours and required two internships. Had I continued in the field, I would have had to be supervised for two to three more years and sit for two national exams to get fully licensed.

I read a lot of comments from people who are outraged by how the Turpins have been let down by the system. I hope some of those people realize that social welfare programs are necessary and need government support. I’m sorry to bring politics into this, but the fact is, political parties that strip funding from social welfare agencies are partly to blame for situations like what the Turpins are facing. I suspect that California’s system is better than systems in “red” states, and obviously, that is not saying much. God only knows what would have happened to those children if they had been moved to Oklahoma, as was the plan. A lot of people think social work is “church work.” It’s not, and there are enough people who have been victimized by religion, as the Turpin children definitely have been, that my opinion will always be that welfare work, particularly as it pertains to children, should always be secular in nature.

Obviously, though, the Turpins have also run into some good people. Deputy Colace was a true hero to Jordan Turpin, and you can tell how grateful she still is to him. He’s an example of a really good police officer. And the 911 operator, Ms. Eckley, was also extremely helpful and kind to Jordan, as she called for help. It’s so fortunate that the dispatcher was calm and kind and didn’t assume Jordan was pulling a prank or something. As I listened to Jordan speak, and heard the outrageous story, I can understand how some operators might have thought she was lying. Even the deputy seemed to be skeptical of Jordan until she showed him the photos of her sisters in chains. The fact that Jordan thought to take those photos is incredible. She’s clearly a very bright young woman with a strong survival instinct.

And now… something else I want to bring up…

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I discovered a 2019 book review I wrote about the Turpin case. I had completely forgotten some of the backstory regarding the Turpins. It goes all the way back to the 1980s, in West Virginia, where David and Louise Turpin grew up.

Allow me to state upfront that I am not excusing Louise Turpin for her incredibly abusive behavior. She brutalized her children, and that is putting it mildly. There’s no excuse whatsoever for the condition her children were in when they were rescued. BUT… I had forgotten about Louise Turpin’s horrifying upbringing. She and her two sisters were basically prostituted by their mother, Phyllis. Phyllis was the daughter of John Taylor, a World War II “hero” and owner of a Shell gas station in Princeton, West Virginia. The gas station was the only place to get fuel for miles around, so Taylor made a lot of money.

Phyllis was sexually abused by John Taylor. It was so bad that she decided to get married very young, so she could escape her father’s perversions. However, her husband, Wayne Robinette, was a Pentecostal preacher, and didn’t make much money. John Taylor enjoyed “tight hugs” with his daughter and his granddaughters. So, when Phyllis needed money, she would bring her daughters over for a visit with “dear old dad”. He would get his “tight hugs”, and then hand Phyllis a wad of cash. Louise reportedly sometimes protected her younger sisters from the abuse by volunteering. John Taylor’s wife, Mary Louise, apparently either didn’t know about the abuse or turned a blind eye to it. She eventually divorced John when she caught him raping fourteen year old Louise Turpin. However, because she was worried about the family’s reputation and, I suspect, losing access to Taylor’s money, she never turned him in to the police.

David Turpin married Louise when she was extremely young, probably in an attempt to get away from her grandfather. Clearly, the cycle of abuse began again with their family. Seeing the body cam footage of the house they were living in when the authorities were finally called and hearing about Louise’s obsessions with buying toys, games, and children’s clothes, I am reminded of my husband’s former wife, who had a somewhat similar upbringing. While Ex is not nearly as bad as Louise Turpin was, there are definitely some similarities in her behaviors and Louise Turpin’s. I have noticed that a lot of people with sexual trauma in their pasts have issues with shopping addictions and extreme immaturity. They have a lot of children and treat them as possessions, rather than people in and of themselves. There’s also often religious abuse involved in these cases, as religion can make for an excellent manipulation tool, as well as a way to instill fear in the victims. I have noticed that sometimes in these situations, the perpetrators marry an obsession with childhood and childish things with extreme abuse. Michael Jackson comes to mind, too. He was obsessed with childhood and suffered horrific abuse himself, and he never quite outgrew childish obsessions. And he is also alleged to have been a child abuser.

Again, I am not excusing the Turpin parents at all… but I can sort of understand the origins of how this came about. Over the past twenty years or so, I have seen and heard similar stories from Bill about living with his ex wife. Ex, who was similarly abused as a child, is obsessed with Disney, Dr. Seuss, Peanuts, and Star Wars, among other things. She would buy mounds of crap with money they didn’t have. She forced Bill’s daughters to do the housework and raise her youngest child, who has severe autism. She refused to let her children interact with people in the world who could help them, like their fathers or grandparents. Those who escaped got no help from her, and she would do whatever she could to sabotage their efforts to become independent. Ex is not as bad as Louise Turpin, but she’s definitely on the spectrum, to use an autism term (Ex seems to have incorporated raising children with autism as part of her identity– she claims that three of her five children have autism).

This is, yet again, another reason why we as a society should be more willing to employ people who can help victims of sexual trauma so that they don’t become abusers themselves. There should be much less of a stigma about mental health care, and more money to pay for it. And social welfare programs should not be fobbed off on religious organizations. Abuse victims have enough trouble as it is, without having to deal with religious dogma and potential abuse from religious leaders, too.

Anyway… it’s heartbreaking to hear that the Turpin children are still struggling and haven’t been able to access donated money intended to help them launch. It’s very disheartening, but not surprising to me, to hear that some of the foster families entrusted with their care have turned out to be abusive. I know there are some wonderful foster parents out there, but unfortunately, there are also a lot of people who do foster care so they can collect a check from the state. And it’s especially upsetting to hear that a woman who was supposed to help the adult Turpin children learn how to function in society turned out to be a lazy, uncaring, incompetent jerk. Those kids deserve so much better!

But… I am very happy to see that the Turpin children who have come forward still have a spark and want to get beyond their tragic upbringings. They still need a lot of help, though. I truly hope the 20/20 special helps them get the assistance they clearly still need, so they can go on to enjoy the “wonderful lives” fellow victim Elizabeth Smart predicts they can have. A least a few of those kids are game to take life by the horns. And I hope that the special shines a light on America’s child welfare system. It obviously needs an overhaul.

And on a final note, kudos to Jaycee Dugard, who made headlines in 2009 after she escaped her captors, Phillip and Nancy Garrido, after 18 years of hell. Jaycee Dugard, like Elizabeth Smart, has turned her ordeal into a way to help other people. She has started a foundation called JAYC, and according to the 20/20 special, she’s vowed to help the Turpin children as they continue to heal from their ordeal and adjust to living life on their own terms. I only hope that the money JAYC is raising actually gets to the Turpin children.

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memories, musings, psychology, true crime

Repost: “Cootie Kids”

And here’s another repost from January 26, 2018, shared today because I just wrote fresh content about the Turpin case.

Every once in awhile, I read something that really makes me stop and think.  Jennifer Turpin is one of the thirteen “kids” who were discovered living in a “house of horrors” in Perris, California a couple of weeks ago.  Authorities found her and her siblings living in filth.  Some of them were shackled to their beds, completely removed from the outside world.  I have been following the horrifying story of the Turpin family.  The more that comes out about them, the more bizarre and insane their story is.

This morning, I ran across a very poignant Facebook post written by Taha Muntajibuddin, a man who knew Jennifer Turpin when they were both kids. At one time, Jennifer Turpin had been allowed to attend school, and she and Muntajibuddin were third grade classmates at Meadowcreek Elementary School. Evidently, in those days, Jennifer Turpin was thought of as one of the “cootie kids”. No one wanted to be friends with her because she was dirty and smelled bad.

Muntajibuddin remembers that after that year, Jennifer moved away and he lost track of her.  There had been times when he’d tried to track her down through Facebook.  He wondered how she’d turned out and hoped she’d turned into someone totally different than who she was when they were eight years old.  But he never was able to find her and imagined that maybe she was one of the few people in the world who hadn’t succumbed to the lure of social media.  Naturally, like so many people who recently discovered the Turpin family, he was horrified when her real story came to light.     

In his very reflective Facebook post, Muntajibuddin reminds people how important it is to be kind.  Better yet, they should teach their children to be kind.  Every elementary school has a “cootie kid” who gets picked on.  Sometimes those kids are able to rise above that moniker.  Sometimes being harassed and bullied leads them down a dark road in which they turn to violence or substance abuse.  Sometimes, it turns out the “cootie kid” is a survivor of a hell that no one else knows about or understands.

My own class had a “cootie kid”.  I have written about her on this blog (ETA: Maybe I’ll repost about her, too).  Like Muntajibuddin, I went Googling to see how she turned out.  Unlike Muntajibuddin, I actually found our old “cootie kid”.  I was gratified to see that it looks like she turned out alright.  She’s one of the ostracized kids who had enough resilience to rise above being picked on and bullied in school.  Just as Muntajibuddin describes Jennifer Turpin as “pleasant” and having a “whimsical optimism”, the “cootie kid” girl I knew was very plucky and friendly, despite her challenges.  She had some really good qualities, in spite of being made the odd girl out.  She was worth the effort of kindness and consideration, as most people ultimately are.

I don’t have kids of my own, of course, so I have never had the responsibility of trying to teach anyone right from wrong.  I’d like to think that if I’d had children, I’d try to teach them to be nice to others.  I’d like to hope I’d encourage them to befriend kids who need friends.  On the other hand, I’m also a realist and a human.  The reality is, as lofty as those goals are, they often fall flat.  Humans are horribly flawed and fallible.  You can have the best of intentions and still be a total failure in some areas.  You can try to be an excellent example and still not manage to sway anyone to follow your lead.

If there’s anything to be learned from kids like Jennifer Turpin, it’s that everyone is fighting battles that aren’t readily apparent to the naked eye.  Kids make fun of other kids when they are different somehow.  I was made fun of when I was in school.  So were a lot of my friends.  We didn’t have the misfortune of being total outcasts, but we took our share of licks.  I remember how that felt and how it still feels today.  Life is hard for most people, but it costs nothing to be kind.

And yet, as I write that, I know there are times that I’ll fail to be kind because I’m human and fallible.  Perhaps if I can take anything from Muntajibuddin’s Facebook post, it’s the reminder that sometimes the reality of another person’s situation is much more horrible than you can ever know.  If it weren’t for Jennifer Turpin’s sister’s bravery, there’s no telling how much longer she and her siblings would be living the miserable life they were living. 

You never know how you will affect other people.  Jennifer Turpin surely doesn’t know how she affected her classmate and how her classmate is, in turn, affecting everyone who reads his poignant thoughts about her.  Just by existing, she’s already changed the world.

Hindsight is 20/20 and I’m sure those who had contact with the Turpin kids now regret not speaking up and calling the authorities.  There’s a fine line in knowing when it’s right to call for help for someone else’s kids.  Some people do it at the drop of a hat.  I think most people would rather not get involved when they see someone like Jennifer Turpin.  I can admit to feeling that way myself, even though I have a degree in social work and would likely have been one of the people who got called when a situation like this is discovered.  It’s hard to stand up for other people.  It’s even harder to know when a situation warrants making a call to the authorities.

The Turpin kids needed a lot more than friends.  In fact, it sounds to me like they weren’t really allowed to have any friends.  But the ones who went to school no doubt interacted with others.  We should teach kids– really each other– to simply be kind… and Muntajibuddin’s post is an excellent reminder to do so.

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true crime

Repost: Elizabeth Smart thinks the Turpin kids can go on to have “wonderful lives”…

Here’s a repost from January 19, 2018 about the Turpin case. I am reposting it because I just wrote about Diane Sawyer’s 20/20 interview of Jennifer and Jordan Turpin.

The Turpins in court.

Far be it for me to minimize the hell Elizabeth Smart endured for nine months when she was a teenager kidnapped by Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee.  I’ve read the books and seen the movies and I know Elizabeth Smart has survived a nightmare.  I marvel at her apparent recovery.   However, I was a bit taken aback when I read Smart’s comments in a recent article published by People Magazine.  Based on Elizabeth Smart’s comments in that article, I’m left with the impression that she thinks she’s the authority on survival.  (Edited to add: I have changed my mind about Elizabeth Smart’s comments after having seen the 20/20 interview. I am astonished by how bright and resilient Jennifer and Jordan Turpin are. I loved hearing them talk about their futures, and I especially loved seeing Jordan reunite with the deputy who rescued her and her siblings.)

In case you missed it, a few days ago, California authorities found the thirteen children of David and Louise Turpin living in a filthy house.  Some of the children were chained to furniture.  Oh… and they weren’t all children, either.  Their ages ranged from two to 29 years old.  However, the adult children were so malnourished that they looked younger than their ages. (ETA: Almost four years later, Jennifer and Jordan are still very tiny and look younger than their ages. Jordan could pass for 14 or 15, and she’s now 21.)

I’ve been reading up about this bizarre case.  Every day, more information comes out about this family that hid from authorities in Texas and California.  David Turpin, age 56, and Louise Turpin, age 49, apparently have a fixation with Disney, Vegas, and Dr. Seuss.  I’ve seen pictures of Mrs. Turpin dressed like Snow White.  I’ve looked at photos of their vehicles outfitted with vanity plates indicating how much they like Disney as well as family snapshots from Disneyland.  The Turpins visited Las Vegas at least twice to renew their wedding vows, their huge brood in tow.

And yet, for all of their apparent love of the fantastic perfection that is all things Disney, this family lived in several homes that they eventually reduced to squalor.  Last night, I read an account from a woman named Ashely Vinyard, who used to play with three of the Turpin kids, Jennifer, Josh, and Jessica, when they lived in Texas.  She reported that after the family moved away, she and her mother went snooping and found two dogs, a kitten, and a “dumpster smelling of death” at the house, which was littered with feces, dirty diapers, and religious literature.  

Another former neighbor reported that just before the Turpins disappeared from Texas, one of the daughters was spotted walking down the road.  The lady picked her up and the Turpin daughter allegedly asked how to get a driver’s license and a job.  She didn’t know who the President of the United States was.  Actually, it surprises me that no one called the authorities at that point.  But then, they were in Texas, where people tend to leave each other alone… unless they happen to be pregnant and hoping to get an abortion.

Although David Turpin is a graduate of Virginia Tech and once worked as a computer engineer for Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, the family had serious financial problems. They lost their house in Texas to foreclosure and had to move. Billy Baldwin, the man who bought the house they’d lived in, had to spend about $30,000 just to make it livable.

These kids were living like this for years and years; seven of them are now legal adults, yet they were forced to remain in the disgusting home, tied up or shackled to their beds. They hid in plain sight, since the Turpins listed their home as a private school. Turpin’s parents in West Virginia stated that the family is deeply religious, and the children were required to memorize long passages from the Bible. Thanks to little government oversight of homeschooling in Perris, California, no authorities were ever in contact with the Turpin kids. In fact, it was rare that anyone ever even saw the kids. When they were spotted, the children acted as if they were terrified.

The Turpin kids were found on January 14th, when a seventeen year old daughter escaped through a window and called 911 on a deactivated cell phone. Mrs. Turpin was reportedly “perplexed” when the police arrived. Yesterday, they were charged with torture, child endangerment, and false imprisonment. Mr. and Mrs. Turpin have pleaded not guilty to the charges. That seventeen year old girl is a hero.

All of this brings me to the comments made by Elizabeth Smart, who offers a ray of sunshine to the Turpin kids. She told ABC News, “I would want them to know that they survived, they did it, and that life is not as dark and terrible as it has been… That there is happiness in the future, and that they can go on to have wonderful lives.”


Perhaps there is truth in what Elizabeth Smart says. Seven of the kids are now adults and they have been rescued; the youngest one is two years old and might be too young to remember much about what’s happened. They are getting some help, at least in the immediate timeframe.

However, I would submit that while Elizabeth Smart is herself a survivor of something horrendous, she has some things going for her that the Turpin kids don’t.  For one thing, Ms. Smart has loving parents who are comparatively wealthy.  She has the backing of a huge, powerful church.  She has even managed to parlay her experience into a career after attending college as a music major.  Moreover, while what Elizabeth Smart went through was horrible, the actual experience lasted nine months.  The Turpin kids have endured many years of abuse and neglect.  It’s going to be a tremendous project for them to overcome what they’ve endured.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love that Elizabeth Smart has apparently recovered so well.  I am especially glad she’s turned her experience into something that will help other people.  I also hope her prediction for the Turpin kids will ultimately come true.  However, I do think the Turpin kids’ challenges are formidable… much more so than Elizabeth Smart’s were.  There is no telling how much physical and psychological damage was done to these kids.  They are not prepared to simply pick up their lives and move on the way Elizabeth was eventually able to do.  They’re going to need a lot of help, and probably a lot of therapy, to have some semblance of normalcy.  They will need support that, given the way our current government is, may not be forthcoming. (ETA: Sadly, based on the interview, it sounds like my predictions about the government’s help was prescient.)

I’m sure if I pressed Ms. Smart on what she said, she might backpedal a little.  Or maybe not.  Maybe she would insist that her comments about the Turpin kids are as true as her evident belief in Mormonism.

I think it’s appropriate to have hope for these kids.  I also think that realism is in order.  Perhaps one bright spot is that Louise Turpin’s siblings have spoken out and they may be in a position to help these kids recover.  Of course, they are strangers to the kids, since David and Louise Turpin refused to let them visit.  But they are still family and hopefully, they will be able to step up for them and help them assimilate into the world.  It will be interesting to see what happens in this case.  I’ll be watching.

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