The Las Vegas Elvis impersonator who renewed the wedding vows for the couple accused of holding their 13 children captive said in an interview Tuesday that he was physically sick when he learned about the reports, but was heartened by the thought that the children were finding strength in each other.
Kent Ripley, the impersonator who conducted the 2013, 2015 and 2016 ceremonies for David and Louise Turpin, told the Daily News that he remembered singing and chatting with the children and said they all appeared to have strong bonds.
Ripley said the children were “soft-spoken” and “well-mannered.”
“I’m hoping they do stick together and make this the beginning of a better life for themselves,” he said. “My prayers are for the children. I hope that they can pick up the pieces.”
Ripley spoke to the paper after authorities said they discovered 13 children--ages 2 to 29-- being held captive inside a home in Perris, Calif., which is about 60 miles from Los Angeles.
Authorities responded to the home on Sunday after a 17-year-old girl, who was malnourished and believed to be 10, managed to jump out of a window and call 911.
Sheriff's deputies said some of the children were chained to furniture and all of them were malnourished. Investigators said the single-family home was filthy, dark and “foul smelling."
Louise Turpin, 49, and her husband, David, 57, were jailed on $9 million bail. They were scheduled for an initial court appearance on Thursday. Authorities said the pair could face charges of torture and child endangerment.
The children were taken to local hospitals to begin the slow process of “re-feeding,” officials said at a press conference Tuesday, the report said.
Their recovery period, both physically and emotionally, will likely be long and arduous, Dr. Donald Kirby, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at Ohio's Cleveland Clinic, said.
“They’ve gone through a very traumatic ordeal. I can tell you that they’re very friendly, they’re very cooperative and I believe they’re hopeful that life will get better for them after this event,” Mark Uffer, CEO of Corona Regional Medical Center, said.
The singer told the paper that he didn’t consider the family's interactions as “odd” so much as “unique."
“I would not have expected something as negative and disgusting as what (police are alleging) was going on then,” he said.