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West Virginia classmate remembers child endangerment suspect as a quiet, intelligent student


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

David Allen Turpin is pictured in a suit and tie in the 1979 Princeton High School yearbook. Turpin, who graduated in the top 20 of his class, was the co-captain of the school’s chess team, treasurer of the Bible Club, in the Spanish Club, in the Science Club, and in the acapella choir.
(Bluefield Daily Telegraph photo by Eric DiNovo)

PRINCETON, W.Va.v  — Black and white photographs in late 1970s high school yearbooks paint the image of a Mercer County teenager who participated in chess, science and the Bible, but today he’s a 57-year-old California resident facing charges of child endangerment.

David Allen Turpin and his wife, 49-year-old Louise Anna Turpin, both residents of Perris, California, were arrested Jan. 14 and charged with child endangerment after a 17-year-old juvenile escaped from her home and called 911 from a cell phone she found inside the house, according to investigators with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. The teen told police that her 12 brothers and sisters were being held prisoner inside the house by her parents, and said some of her siblings were shackled with chains and padlocks. David and Louise Turpin were both jailed on $9 million bonds.

David Turpin’s parents, James and Betty Turpin, still reside in the Princeton area. They had no knowledge of the events in California, and were working to contact their grandchildren. Neither of them, now in their 80s, had visited California for six years, but the grandchildren were well at that time. The family did send photographs taken during vacations to places like Las Vegas, and the children appeared to be all right, James Turpin said Tuesday.

People in the Princeton area recalled the Turpin family, but most only knew about David and Louise Turpin, and didn’t know them personally. Mike Gilbert, 56, of Glenwood recalled attending school with David Turpin and graduating with him in 1979 from Princeton High School. He described David Turpin as an intelligent student who earned good grades.

“Yea, I haven’t see the boy since 1979,” Gilbert recalled Wednesday. “For lack of a better word, he was kind of nerdy. He was always kind of a quiet guy and very intelligent. He always did real well in school, had real good grades. We went to Glenwood Junior High together and on from there to Princeton High School. He dressed nice and he wore bow ties on occasion.”

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