While most people are transfixed on the horrific crimes of Louise and David Turpin, one person couldn’t stop thinking about Jennifer Turpin, one of the tortured daughters of the appallingly abusive parents. Taha Muntajibuddin was a third-grade classmate of Jennifer in Texas, and he took to Facebook on Jan. 24 to share her story, and a message about kindness.
“Jennifer Turpin was the one girl at Meadowcreek Elementary that nobody wanted to be caught talking to,” he began. Taha, now a pediatric doctor, described Jennifer as the “cootie kid” of their grade, and “a frail girl, had pin-straight hair with bangs, and often wore the same purple outfit.” He went on to describe her clothes as looking like “they had been dragged through mud, which she would also smell like on most days. I distinctly remember my entire third grade class scoffing at her one day because our teacher had asked her to discard a scrunchy she had used to tie her hair out of a discarded tin foil wrapper from an old Hershey’s bar.”
Instead of feeling for Jennifer, the kids mocked her. Taha says she moved away after third grade (apparently to the home they were eventually rescued from in Perris, CA) and they forgot about her. That is, until he learned that she had been found living as a prisoner in her parents’ home, chained to her bed, malnourished, and forced to live in her own filth. Taha had looked for her on social media, and upon finding nothing, hoped she’d had a brighter future. “I also thought somewhere, somehow, Jennifer was probably living her best life, showing up all of us gawky third graders in Mrs. Llano’s class how far she’d come.”
Taha revealed he was overwhlemed by guilt when he found out her true fate. “Of course, none of us are responsible for the events that ensued, but you can’t help but feel rotten when the classmate your peers made fun of for ‘smelling like poop’ quite literally had to sit in her own waste because she was chained to her bed,” he wrote. “It is nothing but sobering to know that the person who sat across from you at the lunch table went home to squalor and filth while you went home to a warm meal and a bedtime story.”
David and Louise Turpins’ mugshots.
“The resounding lesson here is a simple one, something that we’re taught from the very beginning: be nice,” he continued. “Teach your children to be nice. If you see someone that’s isolated, befriend them. If you see someone that’s marginalized, befriend them. If you see someone that’s different, befriend them. We can never completely put ourselves in others’ shoes nor can we completely understand the circumstances that one is brought up in, but a simple act of kindness and acceptance may be the ray of hope that that person needs. Befriend the Jennifer Turpins of the world.” Taha now hopes that Jennifer will have the chance to live a normal life, and so do we.
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