domestic violence, LDS, true crime

Lori Vallow Daybell’s son, Colby, is now in jail…

In February of this year, I finally got around to reading about Lori and Chad Daybell, when I reviewed John Glatt’s 2022, The Doomsday Mother: Lori Vallow, Chad Daybell, and the End of an American Family. For a long time, I had purposely avoided reading about this horrific murder case, because it was just one of those stories that had the potential to give me nightmares. But I finally got around to reading the whole, comprehensive story about Lori Vallow, who was born Lori Cox. She’s a woman who has had many husbands, all of whom have eventually ended up alienated. More than a couple of them are now dead. In fact, many people with dealings with Lori and Chad Daybell have died, either due to medical conditions, or foul play.

Lori Vallow Daybell’s daughter, Tylee, was one of the two children who were allegedly murdered by Lori’s current husband, Chad Daybell, and buried in a pet cemetary on Chad’s property. The other murdered child was Lori’s adopted son, J.J., who was her ex husband, Charles Vallow’s, grandnephew. Charles Vallow was killed by Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, who shot him twice in the chest. Chad’s first wife, Tammy, was poisoned until she died. As I mentioned… a whole lot of people who have had dealings with Lori and her associates are now dead or suffering.

Even a woman who had taken part in a 2007 radio contest run by Alex Cox, who had been a morning disc jockey at the time, wound up dead because she “held her wee for a Wii” and became afflicted with water intoxication. Alex Cox is now himself dead, having died of natural causes just a couple of weeks after getting married. His alleged crimes against Charles Vallow were still being investigated when he perished. There was some speculation that Alex may have also been involved with the murders of Tylee and J.J.

It seems like most everything that has been touched by Lori Daybell has turned into tragedy. That includes her one living child, Colby, who was born to Lori and her second husband, William Lagioia. As was Lori’s habit, she alienated Colby from Lagioia, then got her third husband, Joe Ryan (father of Tylee) to adopt him. Ryan, of course, was later alienated from his biological daughter Tylee, when he and Lori split. After surviving an attempt Alex Cox made on his life, Joe died alone of heart disease. Of course, if there is such a thing as an afterlife, perhaps Joe Ryan and his daughter have reconciled in the great beyond… Who knows?

This morning I read that 26 year old Colby Ryan is now in jail in Arizona, having been arrested for sex crimes. According to county public records, this past weekend, Ryan was booked into Maricopa County Jail on two counts of domestic violence sexual assault.

Colby Ryan in court.

The woman who complained to the police about Colby Ryan’s alleged sexual deviances, explained that he had visited her last week, two days before she went to the police. They had watched television, and Colby had apparently decided he wanted to have sexual intercourse. The victim tried to rebuff him, but Colby was determined, even after she clearly said “no”. She claims he forced her to have sex with him. After the assault, the woman locked herself in her bedroom, and Colby slept on her couch.

The next day, the victim secretly recorded a conversation she’d had with Colby Ryan. In it, he admits that he raped her. She later sought medical attention and a nurse completed a rape exam kit. The victim’s clothing was tested for DNA. On Saturday evening, police arrested Ryan, who allegedly admitted several times that he had sexually assaulted the woman after she had said “no” to his advances more than once.

Colby Ryan is expected to appear in court next week. He’s now in jail on a $10,000 cash bond. Given that most of his immediate family is either dead or incarcerated, my guess is that he’s going to be sitting in jail for awhile.

I’m not sorry to hear that Colby Ryan in in jail for what he allegedly did. The woman did all the right things, particularly in seeking medical attention promptly and reporting the crime to the police. Clearly, if what she’s said about Colby’s behavior is accurate, he belongs in jail. Rape is a felony, and it’s important that rapists are held accountable. The judge did tell Colby Ryan that if he is released, he will have to wear an electric monitor.

On the other hand, it does make me kind of sad to read that another member of Lori’s family is going down a dark road. I know some families have their share of tragedies, and clearly Lori’s has, even though most of the tragedies have been caused by her incredibly selfish and criminal behaviors. I do think Lori Vallow Daybell is mentally ill, but I also think she’s a criminal. And unfortunately, sometimes criminals share their proclivities with people who are close to them, either through genetics, or by setting a very poor example. I don’t know why Colby Ryan did what he did. It does sound like he had some remorse. However, he still has to be punished.

I feel sorry for all of the children who were raised by Lori, even Chad, who was the only one to survive, but has apparently turned into a criminal himself. His start in life was racked with instability, to include being alienated from his biological father, adopted by his stepfather, and then alienated from him, too, as his mother moved on to Charles Vallow. Chad has lost so much in his 26 years– his bio dad, his stepdad, his sister and adopted brother, and another stepdad, are all dead. His mother and current stepdad are now sitting behind bars. And now Chad is behind bars, and will likely do some time in prison.

I’ll probably keep an eye on this case, even though the whole Lori Vallow Daybell drama gives me the creeps. Talk about a fucked up family…

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book reviews, LDS, narcissists, religion, tragedies, true crime

A review of The Doomsday Mother: Lori Vallow, Chad Daybell, and the End of an American Family by John Glatt…

As I write today’s book review, I reflect on the last twenty years or so and realize that Bill and I have been relatively lucky. I complain a lot about Bill’s ex wife, who converted to Mormonism during their marriage, and then used the religion as a tool to alienate him from his daughters and former stepson. There is no doubt in my mind that my husband’s ex wife, who is on her third husband, and has had two more children with him, is not the sanest person. She has legitimately put Bill through several layers of hell over the years. He has many scars from that marriage, both figurative financial and psychological ones, and literal physical ones. But at least, as far as I know, Ex hasn’t killed anyone, and at least Bill was able to fully recover from their relationship. Bill and I have been very fortunate on many levels. At least his ex wife mostly leaves us in peace. For that, I am genuinely grateful. After reading British true crime author John Glatt’s most recent book, I know not everyone who splits from a relationship that involves religion, mental illness, and narcissism is that lucky.

The book I’m referring to is titled The Doomsday Mother: Lori Vallow, Chad Daybell, and the End of an American Family. It was published January 18, 2022, making it very fresh reporting, as Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell are still awaiting trial for their roles in the gruesome murders of Lori’s children, 16 year old Tylee Ryan, and 7 year old J.J. Vallow, both of whom were last seen alive in September 2019 and “disappeared” for months before their brutally desecrated remains were found in a pet cemetery on Chad Daybell’s property in Rexburg, Idaho. The children were not actually killed by their mother; instead, Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, who had a violent streak and a touch of mental illness, did the deed. Alex Cox is not being prosecuted because he suddenly died in December 2019. Also dead are Charles Vallow, Lori’s fourth husband and the adoptive father of J.J., and Tammy Daybell, Chad’s first wife, who died under sudden and suspicious circumstances.

A couple of other people– to include Lori’s ex husband and Tylee’s father, Joe Ryan, and Lori’s older sister, Stacy, are also dead, but not due to foul play. However, they both figure in this complicated and tragic story. I’m going to try to break it down a bit, and it may seem like I’m giving a lot of details. Trust me. This is a very convoluted story and there’s plenty to unpack. There’s no way I could possibly give away too much information. I also want to note that when this was hot news, and people on the Recovery from Mormonism messageboard were posting a lot about it, I deliberately avoided reading the details. I’m not sure what made me decide to read Glatt’s book, but now that I have, my mind is blown. So here goes…

Lori Norene Cox

Just from the previous paragraph, you already know that a lot of people in Lori’s and Chad’s circle did not survive their connection. But even before Lori Vallow Daybell met Chad Daybell, a gravedigger, author, and publisher of weird Mormon based books about the “end times”, Lori was a troubled soul with a long history of failed relationships. Unfortunately, Lori, who was born Lori Norene Cox in San Bernadino, California on June 26, 1973, had a devastatingly appealing combination of superficial charm, good looks, and vivaciousness that men found very attractive. She was also a very troubled and manipulative person who left heartbreak and devastation wherever she went, even among those who managed to survive having anything to do with her.

Lori Cox was raised in California by her parents, Janis and Barry Cox, who had four living children besides Lori: Stacey, Alex, Adam, and Summer. A fifth child, Laura, had died soon after birth. Stacey died young, having developed Type I diabetes that she refused to take care of properly. Stacey left behind a daughter named Melani. Lori’s parents were LDS, but they weren’t considered extremely devout. Her father, Barry, had served as a missionary in England in the 1960s, and then came home to California to sell life insurance. He was successful at his job, and the Coxes lived comfortably. They went to Hawaii frequently. Barry Cox was very vocal about his opposition to taxation, and he and his wife would later get in serious trouble with the Internal Revenue Service for tax evasion. Even in the 80s, Lori’s older brother, Alex, seemed sinister. Glatt interviewed one of Lori’s best friends, who told him that she always tried to avoid creepy Alex. Lori also told the friend that Alex had sexually assaulted her. Alex was a “wannabe” stand up comedian who was supposedly “obsessed” with Lori and would do anything for her.

Lori’s string of men

Lori married her first husband, Nelson Nelson Yanes when she was just out of high school, but that marriage ended very quickly. Her marriage to second husband, William Lagioia, lasted three years, but produced their son, Colby, in 1996. Lori quickly set about alienating Lagioia from Colby as she married her third husband, Joe Ryan, who eventually adopted the boy after their 2001 nuptials. Lori and Joe had their daughter, Tylee, in 2002, but their marriage soon faltered. Joe Ryan filed for divorce in 2004, and it was granted in 2005. Ryan, like Lagioia before him, also experienced parental alienation as Lori did her best to destroy his bond with Tylee. In 2007, Lori’s brother, Alex, tasered Joe Ryan after Lori accused Ryan of being abusive to her and the children. Alex had meant to kill Joe, but did not succeed. However, Joe later died of heart disease, a broken and destitute man who, by then, had lost contact with his daughter, Tylee. His body was found three weeks after he died alone in his bed; the walls of his home were plastered with pictures of his beloved, estranged daughter. Lori nonchalantly collected life insurance benefits and later casually ripped off Social Security money meant for Tylee.

In February 2006, Lori married Charles Vallow, a handsome Catholic man from Louisiana who was financially successful and had two sons from a previous marriage. Vallow converted to Mormonism for Lori, and the two of them adopted Charles’s grandnephew, J.J. J.J., whose original name was Canaan, was the biological son of Charles’s nephew, who, along with the boy’s mother, had a severe drug problem. Originally, J.J. was awarded to Charles’s sister and J.J.’s grandmother, Kay Woodcock, and her husband. But although the Woodcocks loved the boy, they felt like they were too old to raise J.J., who besides being born prematurely, also had autism. So initially, it seemed perfect that Lori and Charles would raise J.J. Lori was younger, and seemed like a great mom to her biological children. Again, Lori was almost always able to charm most people, at least when they first met her. After awhile, her true colors showed.

For a few years, the marriage seemed to go okay. Lori was preoccupied with trying to alienate Tylee from her father, Lori’s third husband, Joe Ryan. Once Joe was dead, she was free to turn her attentions elsewhere. Lori began becoming obsessed with “the end times”, which if you know anything about Mormonism, will be a familiar theme. Many members of the LDS church think we are now living in “the end times”. Lori became fixated on a passage in the Bible about 144,000 people who would survive the rapture and witness the second coming of Jesus Christ. Lori was a talented singer and dancer, and Charles built her a special mirrored room– probably much like the Sealing Room in a LDS temple– where Lori would dance to religious music or her favorite 1980s era pop love songs. She also read many books written by LDS authors, including some written by Chad Daybell, who would eventually become her fifth husband.

Lori wasn’t one to stay in one location for long. She lived in several places, including Texas, Arizona, Utah, and Hawaii. She was especially wedded to Hawaii– and lived in Kauai several times, where she made friends and mingled in the local LDS church. At one point, she and Charles lived in Kauai. She would return there after Charles was murdered by Lori’s brother, Alex, who shot him twice in the chest. She would eventually be arrested at a Kauai condominium, just across the street from where she’d once lived with Charles Vallow, after she and Chad Daybell fled after Lori’s children disappeared.

Chad Daybell

Chad Daybell was born August 11, 1968 in Provo, Utah. He often heard voices and saw spirits of his ancestors, to include his grandfather Keith. Chad would often claim that his ancestors would bring him messages from beyond, which he would follow– promptings of the spirit.

Chad Daybell was raised a devout Mormon in Utah, completed a two year LDS mission in New Jersey, and in March 1990, married the former Tamara “Tammy” Douglas at the Manti, Utah temple. They are the parents of five children. Chad graduated from Brigham Young University in 1992 with a degree in communications; he worked as a copy editor at a newspaper, but also did a lot of work as a sexton– that is, gravedigger. That skill would eventually come in handy after he and Lori Vallow got together.

Chad fancied himself a writer, and he started his own publishing company called Spring Creek Book Company. He also decided, after a prompting from the spirits, that he would move his family from Utah to Rexburg, Idaho. He made this decision without consulting his wife, Tammy. He also gave up a lucrative job so that he could publish LDS themed books about the end times. Chad was successful in recruiting other LDS writers, including Julie Rowe, whose books were very popular. However, his decision to publish books made life somewhat financially challenging for his family. Tammy Daybell often worked in schools as an assistant librarian to help pay the bills.

Daybell was known as a “prepper”– meaning, he was preparing for the end times. He spoke and wrote extensively about the topic and became well known in certain LDS circles. Although Chad Daybell’s own books were considered “cheesy” by some readers, Lori Vallow was a super fan of his. She came to one of the conferences where he gave a speech. It wasn’t long afterwards that they became obsessed with each other and formed their own religious cult. They were seeing each other, even though both were married to other people. The other people– Tammy Daybell and Charles Vallow– were soon dispensed with– and once those inconveniences were gone, Lori and Chad were free to get married on a Hawaiian beach. It would be Lori’s second Hawaiian beach wedding.

Chad Daybell’s obsessions with the end times, coupled with Lori Vallow’s mental illness, would lead to the tragic, horrifying, and absolutely heartbreaking destruction of several people’s lives, especially Lori’s own children’s. Her son, Colby, is the only one left to live with the absolutely crazy wreckage left in the wake of his mother’s relationship with Chad Daybell. But even if she had never met Chad Daybell, Lori Vallow would have been responsible for hurting many people. Maybe fewer of them would be dead.

My thoughts

At this point, Lori and Chad Daybell are still awaiting trial. Justice has been delayed because of the pandemic, as well as Lori’s mental illness. She was deemed unfit to stand trial because she needed psychiatric treatment. For that reason alone, John Glatt’s book will probably need a sequel, because I am sure the court case(s) will be explosive. Lori’s fourth husband, Charles Vallow, was killed in Arizona, while her children were murdered in Idaho. Lori may also face charges for grand larceny, because she collected her dead children’s Social Security benefits from their fathers for several months before the game was up and she was arrested in Hawaii.

One thing I did notice about this book is that it didn’t appear to me that John Glatt knows that much about Mormonism. He often used terms that Mormons would not use, such as “congregation”. LDS “congregations” are called wards. He also refers to Lori and Charles “attending the temple”, as if perhaps they were Jewish, and visiting the temple was a regular weekly thing. Mormons do have temples, but they don’t typically attend them regularly, as they would a church meeting (Mormons called their services “meetings”). Temple ordinances are usually “special”; they require a “temple recommend”, which is a special ID card that members in good standing carry. The ID allows them to enter the temple for certain religious ceremonies that are only open to Mormons who are deemed “worthy”. A person can be LDS, but not worthy to enter the temple. Members have to convince their bishops that they are worthy, and get that temple recommend, before they can visit the temple. Plenty of LDS members haven’t done that.

I can’t really fault Glatt for not explaining all of this stuff. I don’t know how much he knows about Mormonism. For all I know, he might know a lot, but have decided not to try to explain everything totally accurately. It IS kind of complicated for the uninitiated, and I suspect most of the people who read The Doomsday Mother are not going to be well-versed in the LDS religion’s less popular beliefs. I do think it’s important to understand the church on a basic level, though, because Mormonism does figure very prominently in this story. It helps to know a bit about the church to get a grasp of how and why things unraveled the way they did.

It’s true that Lori is mentally ill, but she and Chad Daybell got together because they were both obsessed with the LDS religion, the Bible, and some of the more obscure teachings. Indeed, the children were murdered because Lori and Chad believed that they were “zombies”. To my knowledge, “zombies” are not part of Mormonism, but the faith does put a lot of emphasis on spirits, supernatural events, “promptings”, “burnings in the bosom”, and “signs”. Most rank and file Mormons can separate the “woo” from the useful church teachings, but someone who is mentally ill probably could take some of the church’s stranger beliefs and really run with them. It sounds like that is what happened in this case.

I do think John Glatt writes well. He included photos, and wisely divided this book into sections. This is not a story that can be successfully written as one big tale. Both Lori and Chad had such complicated histories that created this perfect storm that readers need to get an idea of both of them as individuals, before they met each other and destroyed so many lives. Even without Mormonism, I think this would be a very complicated story. In fact, I think both Lori and Chad could merit their own books about their lives before their abbreviated existence as a married couple.

I also liked that Glatt added a few trivial tidbits. For example, back in 2007, before Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell became huge news, Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, was working as a morning disc jockey in Sacremento, California. Adam and his fellow deejays decided to have a contest called “Hold your wee for a Wii.” The object was for listeners to drink as much water as they could without going to the bathroom. The winner would get a Nintendo Wii as a prize. A nurse called in to the show and warned the deejays that this was a dangerous idea. They blew her off, which led to tragic consequences for the second place finisher, Jennifer Strange, who died of water intoxication after taking part in the contest. I remember when the Wii contest was news, and was surprised that one of the people who masterminded it is related to a notorious killer.

Those who are interested in this story can also watch ABC’s Dateline program, “The Gravedigger’s Wife”, which at this writing, has been uploaded to YouTube. I’ll be watching it myself later today.

On a much more personal note…

I mentioned my husband’s ex wife at the beginning of this post. Those who have been following my blog for awhile might know why I found the story of Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell even more chilling than I otherwise might have. There are just so many similarities between Lori Vallow’s and Ex’s stories, right down to connections to Texas, the LDS church, multiple marriages, sexual abuse, parental alienation campaigns, narcissism, crazy religious visions, theft of money, and even autism. Ex has a son who has severe autism.

Ex has always promoted the narrative that she’s an “excellent, caring, and devoted” mother. If you look at her social media footprint, you can see that she promotes that image somewhat convincingly to the unaware. However, if you know the truth about her, and hear stories from people who have been close to her, you see there are a lot of cracks in the facade.

Likewise, Lori Vallow came off as this lovely, vivacious, caring mother who loved people. But then look beyond the surface, and you see someone who is extremely troubled and damaged. If she hadn’t had that very attractive and alluring visage, people would be running away from her. Unfortunately, people tend to believe people like Ex and Lori Vallow. Ex looks like a devoted mom to her five children by three men, but her three eldest children were prevented from having relationships with their fathers, and Ex has repeatedly exploited them for her personal gain. Meanwhile, she posts on social media about everything she’s supposedly doing for her youngest son, who will probably always be under her thumb due to his disability.

In his book, Glatt writes about how Lori Vallow got her son a service dog named Bailey to help him negotiate the world. Later, after Charles Vallow’s death, Lori decided to “rehome” the dog, which really upset her daughter, Tylee. Ex has also been making noises about getting a service dog for her son with autism. Ex also reportedly made her daughters get G.E.D.s (just as Lori Vallow’s daughter, Tylee, did), then enroll in college and take out student loans. Ex then allegedly used the excess loan money to pay her own bills, which the girls were expected to repay. Remember, Lori Vallow used her daughter’s father’s Social Security money and her cell phone to do her dirty work.

While I don’t think Ex is as crazy as Lori is, they do have a lot in common. This book was pretty eerie for me, personally, for that reason. Over the years, I’ve gotten a lot of comments about how I’m an obsessive second wife. Maybe there’s truth to that, but there’s also a lot of truth to the fact that my husband was married to a toxic person who has harmed a lot of people. Ex hasn’t killed anyone, that I know of, but I have always felt that if the conditions were right, she definitely could kill someone– including herself. In fact, Ex supposedly did attempt suicide at one point, and landed in the hospital. These comments are based on what I’ve heard from family members and have seen Ex post about publicly.

So, my heart goes out to the “sane” people in Lori’s family who stood by and watched her work. I know from personal experience just how scary and unnerving that can be. The sad thing is, narcissistic, manipulative people tend to get the benefit of the doubt, and it often takes an explosive situation involving horrific crimes before they are finally stopped. Lori Vallow manipulated and conned so many people– friends, relatives, church acquaintances, and the like– before people finally opened their eyes to the person she is.

Likewise, Chad Daybell, a very manipulative man with disturbing delusions of the “end times” also fooled a lot of people, taking on jobs that others wouldn’t seek. Daybell’s knowledge of gravedigging proved handy, as he disposed of Tylee Ryan’s and J.J. Vallow’s remains in the pet cemetery on his property. I will warn that the descriptions of how the bodies were disposed of are especially heartbreaking and horrifying. I especially felt terrible for J.J. Vallow, who probably experienced torture before he died. And now, I feel terrible for the heartbroken relatives– especially his grandparents– who are left missing him and know about the terrible things that happened to him because they didn’t raise him themselves. They must be riddled with guilt.

Anyway, I do recommend The Doomsday Mother to those who enjoy true crime and have both a stout heart, and a strong stomach. There’s a lot of death and sadness in this book, but it’s coupled with a lot of crazy “woo” that is a challenge to comprehend, but I think John Glatt has done a good job explaining this story. It’s definitely NOT an easy story to write. It’s amazing what some people get away with in life, and how long they can get away with it before they are finally stopped.

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book reviews

A review of The Family Next Door: The Heartbreaking Imprisonment of the 13 Turpin Siblings and Their Extraordinary Rescue, by John Glatt

I remember that day in January 2018 well. The news trumpeted headlines about a seventeen year old girl who’d escaped her parents’ home in Perris, California and used a deactivated cell phone to call 911. Jordan Turpin, one of thirteen siblings between 30 and 2 years old, didn’t even know the alphabet and was covered in months of filth. She and another sister, aged 13, had planned, for two years, to escape the hell of their parents’ house. The sister got scared and ran home again, but Jordan was determined. She called 911 and, within minutes, the authorities were there at her house with their blue lights flashing. Jordan’s mother, Louise Turpin, ordered one of her eldest daughters to unchain the two younger siblings who had been restrained for months to their beds. There was no time to unchain their elder brother, a grown man in his 20s, who had spent months chained up in his parents’ filthy house.

I was fascinated and horrified by the Turpin family, but details about them were kind of scant. I saw the pictures of David Turpin, a tall man with a ridiculous hairstyle, who had a well paid job at Northrup Grumman. I saw his wife, a woman just four years older than me, with long, dark, salt and pepper hair and a malevolent affect. These were the parents who had starved, beaten, chained, and terrorized their children… even the ones who were well over the age of adulthood. Eldest daughter, Jennifer Turpin, tried to escape once, but had no prospects. She had no skills, no identification, and a third grade education, even though her father had graduated with honors from Virginia Tech with a degree in electrical engineering. She could go nowhere and do nothing, so she called her mother, who came and got her. I’m sure she paid dearly for her escape attempt.

John Glatt, a well-known true crime author, has written about the Turpin family in his new book, The Family Next Door: The Heartbreaking Imprisonment of the 13 Turpin Siblings and Their Extraordinary Rescue. I’m a fan of true crime books, so I’ve read a few of his over the years. I can’t say he’s my favorite true crime author, but he gets the job done. He’s done a competent job of writing about the horrors the Turpin children endured at the hands of their parents. The book is easy to read and fairly comprehensive, although a lot of what I read, I could have, and actually did, read online. He’s done a pretty good of compiling the information, though, and included some information I didn’t know, such as the history behind David Turpin and Louise Robinette, as they were known in Princeton, West Virginia, before they got married when she was sixteen and he was twenty-three.

David and Louise Turpin grew up attending the same Pentecostal church in Princeton, West Virginia, the Church of God. David knew Louise when she was just a baby; in fact, he’d even held her. He decided he liked her as a woman when she was just ten years old. David was bookish, academically gifted, and loved chess. Louise was the granddaughter of the wealthiest man in Princeton, John Taylor, who had been a hero in World War II. He came back from the war in World War II and opened a Shell gas station, which was the only place to gas up for miles. Taylor made a lot of money, but he was also a lech. He hit on his customers, even though he was a married man. He and his wife, Mary Louise, had three sons and a daughter, Phyllis. Phyllis was Louise’s mother. She was also a victim of sexual abuse. Her father abused her for years, until she married Louise’s father, Wayne Allen Robinette, when they were teens.

Phyllis was keen to get out of her father’s house, and Wayne provided just the right opportunity. But he was a preacher, and that job didn’t pay so well. Phyllis was left without as much money as she needed. Phyllis and Wayne had three daughters: Louise, Elizabeth, and Teresa. They were far apart in age, and Louise used to protect Elizabeth from her parents’ fights, as well as the unwanted attention they got from their grandfather, John Taylor, who would ask them for “tight hugs”. “Tight hug” was a euphemism for the sexual abuse that had destroyed Phyllis’s childhood. And yet, even though Phyllis had been abused and hated it, she subjected her daughters to her father’s abuse. She’d bring them over to his house; he’d have his way with them; then he’d hand their mother a wad of cash.

Mary Louse divorced John Taylor when she caught him raping fourteen year old Louise one day. But she didn’t turn him into the police, because he was such well-known businessman and she worried about the family’s reputation. So although John Taylor moved out of the home, he still had his granddaughters come over for “tight hugs”. He was never brought to justice.

With an upbringing like that, it almost seems like the conditions were just right for Louise Turpin to go off the rails. She ran away with David, who had busted her out of school one day, posing as her dad David had a job in Fort Worth, Texas, and he took fifteen year old Louise there. Her parents were furious, but her father, Wayne, decided he’d rather see them marry than prosecute David for technically kidnapping his daughter. He didn’t want her having premarital sex. So they went back to West Virginia, got married, and began popping out children, starting with Jennifer in 1988, and ending with Janna in 2015.

According to Glatt, things were somewhat normal at first. The Turpins lived in comfortable homes and they sent their eldest children to school, although Jennifer would wear the same dirty, stinky clothes every day. Kids picked on her. She wasn’t allowed to have any friends, anyway. As the family expanded, things got weirder. Louise and David stopped inviting and paying for family to visit. They moved to different homes, trashing them all, leaving creditors unpaid, and making the few people who interacted with them think they were extremely weird people. Louise and David liked visiting places like Disneyland and Las Vegas. They’d bring the kids, let them shower and wear identical clean clothes for photos, then force them back into their nasty, putrid clothes when the trip was over. The children slept during the day and marched at night, hiding from anyone who might betray their secret to the authorities.

Or you could just watch 60 Minutes…

I’m not sure how much information John Glatt got from sources other than the news and Facebook. Other books have been written about this case and I suspect he read them, gathering bits and pieces of the story from those sources. I didn’t get the idea that Glatt did a lot of interviewing or looking for fresh information. However, I didn’t think his book was a bad read, since it strings everything together now that the Turpins have each been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. He also includes photos of the Turpins and the children, as well as the names of the kids.

Some of the facts regarding this case are truly heartbreaking. It’s amazing to me that no one died, although several of the children will suffer lifelong ill effects from being starved and beaten, denied medical and dental care, and not being taught life skills. There was an outpouring of support for the Turpin children, particularly from their caregivers, healthcare professionals who were specifically chosen because they were so compassionate. The community also came together to help and protect them.

Glatt does make it sound like Louise Turpin was the chief perpetrator of the abuse, although David certainly was guilty of a lot of it. For instance, he was the one who had decided to start chaining the children. Prior to chaining them, the kids were tied with rope. They were also sometimes put in dog kennels. And the children were so filthy that the chains left clean spots on their skin, which along with bruises, served as evidence of their ordeals.

I think this book could have been better, but it’s not bad if you just want a run down of what happened. You could probably find most of what’s in this book in several articles on the Internet. But finding and reading those would require more effort than just reading Glatt’s book. Anyway, I’d give it three stars out of five.

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