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tv   Nightline  ABC  January 19, 2018 12:37am-1:07am PST

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[ cheers and applause ] >> thank you! this is "nightline." >> tonight the nightmare next door, the california couple accused of torturing their family of 13 children. disturbing new details of the alleged horrors hidden in that suburban home, chained to beds, starved and allowed to shower only once a year. neighbors recalling bizarre beharvb behavi behavior. >> how long would they march back and forth. >> hours. >> and a 17-year-old who alerted police how she planned the daring escape for years. plus the monkey going bananas, now a hip new viral
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sensation, how fiona hippo became a bonafide celebrity with millions watching her learn how to swim and take her first steps. we're taking you up close and personal to a 600 pound sweetheart. first the trevor knig"nightline. ♪ ♪ there are two types of people in the world. those who fear the future...
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and those who embrace it. the future is for the unafraid. ♪ all because of you ♪ ♪ heavy, labored breathing heavy, labored breathing coughing breathing through oxygen mask breathing through oxygen mask breathing through oxygen mask breathing through oxygen mask covered california. it's more than just health care. it's life care.
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good evening and we begin tonight with stunning details coming out about the family home in california where a couple is accused of starving, beating, and shackling their children for years. neighbors say they did notice something off about that family. >> today our first look at couple accused of imprisoning, torturing the children. the father david turpin shackled appearing dazed his wife louise sighed heavily at times. the couple now facing 75 charges including torture, false imprisonment and child abuse and david turpin charged with an additional charge of unspeakable act. >> he touched one of the victims in a lewd way by using force or fear. >> these photos for days were
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the only glimpse of the peculiar but seemingly happy family but abuse was out at the press conference. >> victims report starting many years ago they began to be tied up. >> described decades of unimaginable punishment that intensified as the years went on. >> one victim was tied up and hog tied and when that victim was able to escape the ropes e they began chaining with padlocks and chains. >> the children shackled for weeks or months at a time and starved. the eldest daughter age 29 weighed just 82 pounds and officials say their parents would taunt them. >> they would buy food, apple pies, leave it on the counter
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let the children look at it but not eat the food. >> instead the children were fed a steady diet of cruelty. grime smeared on the stairwells. human filth on the floors. the district attorney saying the children were allowed to bathe only once a year. >> i call it a compound they were so closed off from society. >> louise's sister said for decades felt uncomfortable around her brother-in-law. >> if i were to get in the shower he would come in while i was in there and watch me like a joke. >> she says she hasn't seen the children in over a decade but remembers they were kept on a rigid schedule. >> i remember they were really strict. the oldest daughter would stay in her room, when she came down she'd have to give permission. >> and we learned vampire hours as neighbor mike clifford called
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it. >> anywhere from 12:30 to 230 thanksgiving in the morni in the morning the kids would march across the rooms up there for hours. >> this community in perris, california, is known as the crown jewel but what's so shocking behind closed doors in one of these homestan horror wa unfolding and neighbors had no idea what was happening. >> anything to look for. >> you don't need a medical degree. you see a child that doesn't go to school. that is putting sod on the ground at midnight. or looks pale and doesn't walk appropriately. that kid is probably has some issues that needs to be paid attention to. >> you certainly can report anything. i would suggest to people they don't know exactly what's happening, that it doesn't look
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right, i think all of us from a welfare standpoint should reach out and talk to the police. >> the lives of the turpin siblings have changir revokablely since sunland oday. one of the can girls 17-year-old girl and siblings escaped through a window and used a cellphone. >> the 17-year-old who escaped had been working on a plan to escape this abuse for more than two years. >> the police unit swarmed that tiny development an in that house police discovered the remaining children. >> 11 and 13-year-old were unchained while the police were at the door and 22-year-old chained to the bed when police entered the home. >> several of the children were adults but looked much younger investigators say because they were so emaciated. >> they all ranged from 18 to 29 everyone thought they were
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children. >> the 29-year-old siblings weighing only 82 pounds and several of the victims have cognitive impairment, the result they say of prolonged, physical, and mental abuse. >> we don't know emotionally they are mentally in adulthood because of the torture that's taken place. >> their parents david and louise turpin led out of the house by police in handcuffs now sit in jail. their bail set at $12 million. a million per child alleged abused they face up to 94 years to life in prison convicted. >> we're not charging torture on the 2-year-old. the 2-year-old don't know why but apparently the 2-year-old was getting enough to eat. >> this story, this case seems surreal. >> it's hard to accept that this really happen in our own backyard in our own communities. >> you've probably done a lot of
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these cases before but what seems so unusual about this one is it was systematic and intentional. >> not talking about a normal action, reaction, and consequence type behavior that you would find in a family. this is off the charts sadistic. >> police have removed evidence from the home recovering hundreds of journals written by the children. >> journals will give you state of mind of people. the writing will give you an indicator as to where their mind set might be. it actually may help you to pull this together. >> the children were home schooled. david turpin former engineer was principal of the sand castle day school registered at the same address the entire school body his children the california department of education for children says in a statement we're sickened by this tragedy and relieved the children are now safe and authorities are now
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investigating. under current california law the cde doesitor or inspect private schools. sti a fundraiser has been set up for the turpin children. >> how long can it take for people to become robust again. >> it's going to be taking some time with appropriate nourishment and a good environment. >> to elizabeth smart parts of this trauma are all too familiar at 14 she was held in captivity for nine months after being abducted. her story gripped the flags. >> for so long i couldn't decide whether to go to sleep or go to the bathroom or eat or drink. >> she cautions -- >> -- i will tell you every day of the week the chains of manipulation and threats are so much stronger than actual physical chains. >> while smart wasn't held captive for decades she is
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optimistic for the siblings having rebuilt her own life after captivity. >> i would want them to know that life is not as dark and terrible as it has been probably for their entire life that there is happiness in the future and that they can go on to have wonderful lives. >> tonight members of the children's extended family are reaching outleting them know that they are there for them. >> i wanted the kids to know that there are people that love them. and there's family that love them. and i hope to be able to see the children. >> for "nightline" i'm matt gutman in riverside, california. >> our thanks to matt for that reporting. tune in to "20/20" on friday for a full investigation into that california house of horrors featuring brand new details and interview and tracking the family from coast-to-coast. next on "nightline" we're going
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♪ ♪ there are two types of people in the world.
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those who fear the future... and those who embrace it. the future is for the unafraid. ♪ all because of you ♪ ♪ ♪ tonight you're going to meet a social media heavy hitter pun intended a hippo named fiona was born premature and struggled to breathe and then gained millions of fans as care takers nursed her to health in a series of facebook videos. now the latest in our series social stars. >> she's the unlikely viral star.
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>> look at this! >> ah! >> hey cutie. >> oh, my goodness. >> splashing her way into the hearts and on to the screens of millions across the globe. >> she's precious. >> fiona is a diva. she's a ham. >> fiona the hippo. from premature baby to bonafide brand. featured on merchandise and given her own ice cream flavor. >> chunky, chunky hippo. >> and time magazine naming her person of the year. >> fiona joining the ranks of animal celebs with massive social reach like marty the dog 2 million instagram followers and the nala cat with $3.5 million and april the girard 56 last year was born and 14 million watched in one day. but hippos are not the cuddliest of animals how did the journey
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to stardom begin, in the womb, first hippo to be barn in the cincinnati zoo for 75 years but almost didn't make it as her mother went to labor six weeks early, and weighed just 29 pounds. typical weight is 55 to 120 pounds. >> she was little. >> she was placed into a ad hoc hippo nicu and put on iv and given round the clock care. the keepers and zoo staff fighting to keep the baby hippo alive. >> it was very touch and go at the beginning. had to make it up on the fly didn't know what was in hippo milk had to milk the mom and have that analyzed. >> her daily struggle documented on facebook. small moments becoming big victories. the world watching as she
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learned to stand. >> i can stand. i'm a big girl. >> how to swim. and even took her first steps. >> i became emotionally attached just like the rest of the world and a few times i really didn't think she was going to survive. >> but little one didn't just survive, she thrived. >> so to see her start crossing those kind of lines that we didn't even know she would ever even hit, and she just like gang busters, you know, she just blew everybody out of the water. >> and as she grew so did her following. here's a six week old fiona, stubbornly learning how to walk up and down a ramp. the tiny triumph viewed over 21 million times on facebook she more than doubled the zoo's following. >> what's she eat every day. >> she is getting 3,000 milliliters of formula and now
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eating adult diet, grain, hey, loves lettuce, apples, squash and speshlg occasions watermelon and pumpkin are some of her favorites. >> she played perfectly to the camera. >> hi. >> strike a pose little one. ah! >> a true diva in action. >> what's it like day in dand out to see all of the people come from all over the world to see them. >> it still a mazes me, i thought the crowds would die down but still to this day when you let her out you hear the crowd going crazy when she comes back out. >> fiona is a bright spot after a dark episode of the controversial killing of silver back after child had fallen into the enclosure, the scene, ten
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minutes of horror, the boy's mother watching helplessly from above. oh, my god. oh, my god. then a critical calculation to shoot the 450 pound animal to save the child's life. this is the zoo's director. >> last year was a tough year with his killing how's this changed the zoo? >> you know last year was a challenging time, particularly for the people who worked directly with horanbay because we work with the animals like we do with the pets, like we love our kids they love their animal so that was a hard time. >> but in 2017 baby fiona changed the moment of the zoo record attendance up 23% zoo officials nicknaming it the fiona effect. >> what is the fiona effect. >> she's really represented hope
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and being safe on the brink and love. people love that animal. >> fiona's under dog story providing rare common ground in a divisive year. >> who can't get behind a sweet baby hippo. >> her spirit of resilience resonating with the visitors who come to see her play. >> when she was premature i was diagnosed with breast cancer so me and her had a battle together. >> to me it was really excite zbrg little kids would write handwritten letters, fiona i was premi too and i'm okay now and here's a picture of me on my soccer team, you can grow up and be a hippo. >> her short story, she will be one next week, now being told in books. >> i've tried to see her more times than i got to. i saw her the media preview and
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lost my mind before she was on public display i lost all journalistic integrity and freaked out in front of the window. >> fiona loves to play to the crowds and mom always joins in. there she is. hi. look at this. >> today fiona is happy, healthy and hefty. >> she's about 3,000 pounds the mom, and fiona about 600. >> she's got a bright future ahead. will have lots of fans and lots of lettuce maybe years down the road a young man in her future. we'll have to vet him strongly. >> for "nightline" in cincinnati. next, first of its kind robot rescue. how a drone saved two teens from drowning.
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♪ finally tonight the dramatic rescue a drone helping to save two teenage boys caught in a powerful riptide off the coast of the australia in what's called the world's first. the drone was deployed minutes after calling for help dropping the inflatable life raft. teens say they feel very lucky they got back to score. >> just happy that the drone got out to help us. that was really good. i think it probably could have
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gone a lot worse they had to take their time and come out on a board or something like that. >> we want to thank you for watching "nightline" we're always online 24/7 on our "nightline" facebook page. thank you again for watching. and good night.
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