LDS, modern problems, narcissists, religion, social media, true crime, videos, YouTube

Monetizing kids for better living through YouTube!

Today’s featured photo is a screenshot of Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt on YouTube.

A good Thursday morning to you all… One more day before Mr. Bill comes home and tells me about his TDY days in Bavaria. I’ve been passing the time in the usual way, reading a book, watching a lot of YouTube videos, and scanning social media. One person who is all over the news this week, besides Donald Trump of course, is a Utah woman named Ruby Franke. Ruby Franke is yet another now disgraced former YouTube star.

A few years ago, I might have been all over 41 year old Ruby, who ran a now defunct channel called 8 Passengers. Ruby is a mother of six and an evidently devoted member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Like a lot of church going folks, Ruby decided to turn her large family into YouTube (or reality TV) fame. She’s now in deep trouble, because although people had been trying to sound the alarm for years about her parenting methods, this week two of her children were discovered malnourished, with one asking neighbors for food and water. There was also evidence that at least one of the children had evidence of having been restrained with duct tape and rope. Ruby Franke, separated from her husband, Kevin, is now being charged with six felony counts of child abuse. Four of her six children have been removed from her custody.

I should mention that Ruby’s business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, has also been arrested on suspicion of aggravated child abuse. Hildebrandt also has a rather checkered past in Utah, according to some sources who are coming out now. She and Ruby started another YouTube channel called ConneXions, which is also now defunct. However, Jodi’s ConneXions Web site is still live at this writing. Hildebrandt was a mental health therapist in Utah, but had her license suspended in 2012 after violating client confidentiality by disclosing the client’s alleged “porn addiction” to LDS church leaders. If you know anything about Mormonism, you know that looking at pornography and engaging in masturbation is a big “no no”.

Ruby talking about her daughter in diapers “stinking”… I’m really glad I never discovered this channel when it was still active. Yuck.

I’ve seen Ruby’s face all over the place this week. She’s an attractive woman, with a nice, wholesome image. She has a good figure, a pretty face, and dresses modestly. Her kids, from what I’ve seen, always look clean and are dressed well in the photos I’ve seen of them. And yet, her twelve year old son– the one who asked for help from neighbors– is malnourished. He was found with duct tape on his arms and legs. He was one of Ruby’s projects– she put him and his siblings out there on YouTube to rack up views and income as she dispensed some highly questionable parenting tips.

YouTuber kyeluh talks about how awful and disturbing Ruby’s content was before she finally got busted.

As I mentioned up post, I would have probably been all over this story a few years ago, before Bill and his younger daughter reconnected. It’s no secret that I’m no fan of Mormonism, or really most strict religions. But Mormonism happened to affect us more than the other religions did, so I specifically focused a lot on that faith. Of course, Mormons certainly don’t corner the market on abuse. But a lot of people in strict religions use God as a reason to be strict and abusive, especially toward those who have less power in those communities… that is, children, and often women.

These days, I’m somewhat less interested in upbraiding the Mormons. I still don’t like the belief system, but I find myself grateful that some people in the church were willing and able to help Bill’s daughter get away from her mother. On the other hand, Ex used Mormonism as a means of controlling her husbands and kids, and as a source of shame. I don’t respect the church for that, because the religion aided her in her parental alienation goals. She used its teachings as a means of separating her children from their fathers and other people in the family who threatened her.

I don’t know a whole lot about Ruby Franke yet, but I suspect the church had a lot to do with her bad decisions. Everything from that whitewashed, clean cut, “wholesome” image, to the decision to have six kids, to the decision to put them on YouTube as an example of people living clean, “godly” lifestyles… it can all be traced to man made religions that impress upon people that image is important, and can be monetized. People lap up their examples, which is evidenced by ratings, merchandise sales, advertising, and views. The money comes and fame grows, with everyone smiling and happy… until the truth comes out and people are exposed for being frauds.

Religion can also lead people to have some pretty warped ideas about life, too. Especially when a person already has a mental illness. I look at child murderer Lori Vallow Daybell for confirmation on that notion. Lori Vallow Daybell was recently convicted and sentenced to life in prison for murdering two of her three children and her husband’s first wife, Tammy Daybell. Like Franke, Lori Vallow Daybell is LDS, and had some really whacked out conspiracy theories about the “end times”. Her ideas were shaped, in part, by books written by her fifth husband, Chad Daybell, who wrote about the end times, and perhaps by significant mental health issues.

My post title singles out YouTube for this “monetizing kids” phenomenon, but I really should include reality TV as well. For years, we’ve watched people like Jon and Kate Gosselin, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, and Barry and Kim Plath put their large families on TV for fun and profit. All three of these families are very large, and two of them profess to be deeply religious. Of the three families who made it big on TLC, only Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar remain “happily” married, although they certainly have some serious problems going on now. Two of their daughters have written books against the IBLP belief system they were raised in, and we all know where Josh Duggar is right now. Barry and Kim Plath announced that they were divorcing last year, and Jon and Kate Gosselin famously split up years ago.

Life is expensive, especially in the United States. It’s hard for people to make ends meet in the traditional way. Just now, for instance, I’m reading a book about a woman who graduated from Juilliard and found herself unemployable. She turned to escort work to pay her bills, also dabbling in phone sex. Her book is interesting, so far. At times it’s even funny. I’m sure there were times when she didn’t laugh, she’d have to cry. Personally, I find her decision to turn to being an escort kind of sad. I will probably be finished with the book very soon and will elaborate more when I review it. I mainly find it sad, though, because she felt the need to resort to that work to get out of debt. I didn’t get the sense that she, at least initially, really wanted to be a sex worker because it was something she enjoyed doing. She simply wanted to keep the bill collectors at bay. But at least in doing that work, she was only exploiting herself– an independently functioning adult who can consent and realize the risks. Kids on YouTube videos are often not being given a choice in whether or not they want to perform on camera.

I have no doubt that having a lot of kids– especially when your image conscious religious beliefs encourage it– is challenging on many levels. First, there’s the prospect of having that many children and raising them properly. Then there’s the prospect of being able to financially support that many children. I think in the Duggars’ case, having more children was actually a source of income. They got paid whenever anyone got pregnant and gave birth on camera! And then there’s the prospect of being arrested for doing something “wrong”.

I don’t know how today’s parents manage, to be honest. I think of my own upbringing and realize that my parents probably would have been reported to CPS a bunch of times in today’s world. We expect children to be supervised 24/7 until they’re pretty mature, but we also expect parents to support their children. Child care costs a bundle– sometimes more than a job pays. So, if you have an attractive family, and some kind of compelling “hook”, why not go on YouTube or reality TV to make some money? I’m sure Ruby Franke is now discovering why that idea may not have been a good one… Her own videos are providing a lot of evidence against her.

Yesterday, I was watching a video about Ruby Franke and someone mentioned that her case reminded them of the Turpin Family in California. I’m not sure Ruby’s case is quite that severe, at this point. She doesn’t have as many kids, and from what I understand, they weren’t living in complete filth, with no access to the outside world whatsoever. Ruby Franke’s children were seen on video, at least, and her eldest child, 20 year old Shari, is in college. She had enough freedom to be able to repeatedly call CPS on her mother, although they did nothing about her reports until just now. The Turpin kids didn’t have that much freedom, even though some of them were well into adulthood when they were finally liberated. There are some similarities, though.

Discussion about Ruby Franke and her family…

I’m sure someone will write a book about Ruby Franke and her family. And I’m sure I’ll probably read it, if I’m capable. Cases like hers are difficult, as in the United States, many people have this idea that parents should have a lot of freedom in how they raise their children. On the other hand, how child abuse cases are handled has a lot to do with the jurisdiction and local politics. Also, a lot depends on how well funded and staffed protection agencies are. In some areas, the standard for what is considered child abuse is set very high. All I know is that, at this point, it sounds like people tried to speak up about Ruby Franke, and no one took the alarms seriously… until her son was found malnourished and wearing duct tape. Malnourishment doesn’t just happen overnight, so it looks like the alleged abuse has been going on for some time now.

Anyway, I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for what happens in Ruby Franke’s case. Maybe I’ll write more about it, although one of the main reasons I’m just addressing it today is because so many people are already covering Ruby Franke. I was actually trying to avoid finding out about it, but YouTube is loaded with people talking about Ruby Franke, such that I keep seeing her face everywhere. So, I guess that’s a sign I should write about Ruby, too…

Well, I have to do the dreaded vacuum chore today, practice guitar, and walk Noyzi, so I guess I’ll end today’s post. I hope you have a good day… and that your weather is as perfect as Germany’s is right now. <3

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communication, condescending twatbags, Duggars, narcissists, religion

Easy for you to say, armchair quarterback…

Thursday already! This week is flying by, which is a good thing. Tomorrow is the big day. I don’t usually start packing before the morning of departure or maybe the night before, if we’re leaving early. For this big trip, I started filling my new suitcase on Tuesday. I am very ready to get out of here, even if there’s a part of me that kind of dreads the logistics. But I think I have most everything planned appropriately.

We’ll take Noyzi to the Hundehotel tomorrow morning, then head for the airport in advance of our early afternoon flight. It’ll be my first airplane ride since November 2019! By tomorrow afternoon, we’ll be in Oslo, the first stop of our multi-city Scandinavia/Baltics tour. πŸ˜‰ I know it will be over before we know it, so I hope to savor everything… but I also know myself, and I’m sure there will be first world problems to complain about. I’ll try to confine them to my blogs.

And since we aren’t on vacation yet, allow me to offer some observations I’ve made since yesterday. Wednesday’s post was about the “right to complain” and how complaining doesn’t necessarily make a person a “karen”. And how I’m not a “karen” because I think the term “karen” is stupid and needs to go out of style. πŸ˜‰

I’ll admit, I was a bit all over the map yesterday, because I was overwhelmed with examples for my post. That’s a problem, but it’s less of a problem than not having any examples to write about. Then, maybe you might have some trouble explaining exactly what you mean.

Today’s post, thankfully, does offer a good example of what I mean by its title. That is, it’s easy for people to pass judgment and get on a moral high horse about some things, when they aren’t actually in a given situation, and won’t suffer any hardships for advising someone to do what they think is the “right” thing to do. Once again, I’m going to bring up the Duggar family.

In the Duggar Family News Facebook group, the group leader, Pickles, shared some commentary from someone who used to work on 19 Kids and Counting. The person whose comments were referenced wasn’t identified, but it was someone who spent a lot of time around the Duggar family.

One person in the group wrote that crew members who filmed everything were complicit in the abuse, since they stood by and allowed all of this stuff to happen, but said nothing about it. She wrote:

The crew witnessed girls being forced into arranged marriages, forbidden to use birth control and then pregnancies with no prenatal care and agonizing childbirth. They suffered for days without proper medical care. The crew saw children that were not allowed to go anywhere without chaperones. They saw substandard teaching and educational materials because they were not allowed to go to school. The network constantly allowed them to praise their ATI and IBLP training sessions. The crew saw that their patriarch had total creative control. The crew saw girls made to wear long skirts with long uncut stringy hair that were constantly being slut-shamed. They saw girls that were forced to cook, clean and raise their siblings while the boys played. They saw the constant abuse of women and girls due to their Christian beliefs. The crew was silent and complicit.

As I read the above passage, I couldn’t help but think that it would be very difficult for the crew to do anything about what they saw. As Pickles pointed out:

Yes, but is any of that reportable to child protective services? In this country kids only need to be fed and have their basic needs met. It is sad sometimes that we can’t do more.

And Pickles is right. In many places in the United States, all that is necessary is that children have their basic needs met. We may not agree with how other people raise their children, but that doesn’t mean that the government has the right to intervene. And, honestly, as much as I don’t like seeing children raised in cults, I also think that there’s a slippery slope. A lot of well meaning people think they’re doing good, when they don’t have the whole story… or they think their way is automatically always the *best* way.

People often think they are above reproach, as they point the finger at other people. They never seem to realize that the standards they want to impose on other people could just as easily be imposed on them. Who’s to say that while you point your fingers at people you think are doing wrong, that certain other people won’t be pointing at you and saying the same thing? Would you want them to be able to dictate what’s right, and what’s not?

The original poster’s response to Pickles was this:

My belief is that the standard should not have rested with CPS regulations but rather with doing the right thing for women and girls. The crew should never have participated in promoting this patriarchy.

Who’s to say what is the “right thing” for women and girls? Those of us who were born and raised in western cultures often think our way is the best way. I think Americans, in particular, are guilty of trying to impose our mores on other cultures, thinking the standard way we do things is the way everyone should do them. But, if you look at other countries around the world, you realize that when it comes to oppressing females, the Duggars’ ways are actually pretty lenient! I mean, I haven’t heard of any of the Duggar girls being held down and having their clitorises cut off by their aunties, right?

And secondly, has this poster considered that by “not participating in promoting the patriarchy”, the Duggar insider would have aided in keeping all of this stuff hidden? It probably would have been much easier for Josh Duggar to keep abusing people if he hadn’t come from such a famous family. Moreover, television work was this person’s livelihood, and TV jobs are, presumably, not that plentiful. It’s easy for some random person on Facebook to condemn the Duggar Family TV show insider for not “stepping up” and “refusing to promote the patriarchy” when it’s not the rando’s paycheck at stake.

Besides… everyone who watched the Duggars on TV saw this stuff going on every time an episode aired. No, we didn’t see the unedited parts that the TV crew saw, but we saw enough of it to speak out about it, if we were so inclined. Most of us didn’t bother.

I remember back in 2008, when the FLDS sect at the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas got raided. So many relatively “normal” people were glad to see it being raided, because they were absolutely sure the children in that sect were miserable and being abused. And, if I’m honest, I think a lot of the kids in that sect probably were experiencing what a lot of us would consider abuse. BUT… that lifestyle is what they knew, and their abusers were their family. When the children were eventually reunited with their mothers, there was no mistaking the joy on the children’s faces.

When you’re a child, you won’t necessarily see CPS workers as heroic when they yank you out of the only home you’ve ever known. Moreover, sometimes kids who are removed from abusive homes end up in foster homes that are as bad or even worse from where they came. Read up on the Turpin siblings’ hellish experiences with foster care for some verification on that. I’m not saying that calling CPS is never necessary or lifesaving for abused children, but foster care and government intervention are certainly not panaceas against preventing or stopping child abuse. Like it or not, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are the parents to that huge brood. We may see them as awful parents, but they’re still the only parents their children have.

This doesn’t mean that I support the Duggars’ way of doing things. I am absolutely sure there’s a legitimate hotbed of abuse in that family. I doubt that Josh is the only one who did pervy things, either. However, I do think it’s a lot to expect random people to intervene/be heroic, especially when they don’t have the whole story, haven’t been asked to intervene, and are relying on a paycheck. Because while it’s very noble to think that we all have our principles, when it really comes down to it, people have basic needs that have to be fulfilled. It’s hard to be tough when you realize that speaking up or speaking out could lead to unemployment.

My husband went to war with a man who was later outed and very publicly fired from the Army for abusing troops in Iraq. Bill was similarly abused by this man when they went to Iraq a couple of years prior. Bill didn’t say much to Army officials about what happened in that war zone because he wanted to stay employed and promotable, and he did not want to be labeled a complainer. If he had spoken about the abuse, maybe he could have prevented his former boss from abusing other troops. But, there’s also a good chance that he would have been punished for being vocal about the abuse, and his boss would have still gotten ahead. It’s easy for those who aren’t directly faced with a dilemma to say what they think should be done. It’s much harder to take those actions when it’s your ass on the line and you have other people depending on you.

I am a big believer in speaking out and taking action when it’s possible to safely do so. However, I am also a realist, and I am wise enough to know that speaking up and taking action isn’t always something that is easily done without severe reprisals. And, unfortunately, when you’re dealing with powerful narcissistic types like Jim Bob Duggar, Donald Trump, Bill’s “war buddy”, or even his ex wife (when the kids were minors), you find that doing the “right thing” is very often easier said than done.

So no, I don’t blame the Duggar TV show insider for not “refusing to promote the patriarchy” and “refusing to take action” on behalf of the Duggar daughters. That would have been a tall order that probably wouldn’t have ended with good results. But I am glad to see people like Jill, Jinger, and Amy Duggar standing up now, and speaking out against the abuses perpetrated in the name of “Christianity” and Bill Gothard’s IBLP cult.

I think being married to a man who attracts narcissists has made me more aware of what is at stake when a person confronts one. The bigger and more powerful they are, and the more money and prestige they have, the harder it is to confront them. And while it’s easy to armchair quarterback– I do it myself sometimes– the reality is, when it comes down to it, we all have to watch our own backs first. You can’t help someone else if you’re not wearing your own oxygen mask, so to speak. πŸ˜‰

Hopefully, we won’t be needing any oxygen masks when we fly to Norway tomorrow. πŸ˜€

As I posted earlier… my blog may be less attended while we’re away, but I will bring my laptop and see what I can do. I hope you’ll wish us luck!

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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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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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