Parents charged with torture after 13 siblings rescued from California house of horrors

The parents of 13 siblings that range in age from two to 29 have been charged with torture after their children were rescued by police from a house in California where some of them had been chained to beds.

The horrific case came to light when a 17-year-old girl escaped the house in Perris, east of Los Angeles, using a cell phone she'd found to call police.

"Deputies located what they believed to be 12 children inside the house, but were shocked to discover that seven of them were actually adults," the Riverside County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

"The victims appeared to be malnourished and very dirty."

After the young girl's escape on Sunday (local time) the children's parents, David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were both arrested and charged with nine counts of torture and 10 counts of child endangerment.

The couple have been held on bail of $US9 million.

Police say six of the children are minors and the other seven are 18 and over.

When quizzed by police the children said they were starving. No motive has yet been established for why the children were held hostage.

David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49.
David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49. Source: Riverside County Sheriff's Department

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Former prisoners say they're having to lie to employers to secure a job

People who have been in prison say they are having to lie to employers to secure a job.

Just under a third of people who leave prison are back behind bars within their first year of release.

The Department of Corrections said gaining employment can reduce reoffending and it urged employers to give former prisoners a chance.

A woman, who wanted to be known only as Mihi, said she enjoyed her night-shift cleaning job in Auckland.

She said her colleagues were great and her boss was good too, which made it difficult for her to keep lying to him.

She did not want to use her real name because she did not want her boss to find out she had spent time in jail.

"I am quite an honest person and I would rather he knows - because he's really good," she said.

"Since I have been working there in June I have been wanting to tell him but I am scared that he might let me go.

"I need this job or a job."

Mihi served six months in Arohata prison for a string of convictions, including assault, breaching protection orders and benefit fraud.

She was released in January and said she has been turned down by countless employers when she has been honest about her past.

"I ended up mentioning that I just got released from prison - that that was the reason why I did not have any referees - he told me to get out," she said.

Another recruitment agency told her that no one would employ her, so she was wasting their time.

"It is stressful, it is hard, especially if you have been in prison - I did not realise how hard it was. No one wants to help you."

Mihi said employment was keeping her on the straight and narrow and she could turn to drugs and alcohol if she lost her job.

Patricia Walsh had racked up sentences amounting to 20 years imprisonment and had been to jail five times.

She has been out of prison since 2009 and said she lied to get her first job too.

But it put her on a path to get her Bachelor of Social Work and she speaks publicly about how to improve the system.

"Once I got off the P, I felt like maybe I could get a job," she said.

"But I lied - I said I didn't have a criminal conviction - but hey I got myself a cleaning job and I ended up cleaning the wānanga.

"I said to one of the students, 'How do I be one of you?"

Second chance

A reintegration worker who has completed her PhD on life after prison Joy Bullen said it should not be this way.

"For anyone that goes to prison they find that employment means they begin to be imprisoned all over again, they can't get employed because you are a risk," she said.

"So we don't say 'you've served your time, let's move on', we go 'no, you can't be employed because you are risk'."

The Department of Corrections has programmes in place to get prisoners work ready and to help them secure jobs on the outside.

In September, it managed to source jobs for 158 offenders who had been in prison or on community based-sentences.

It's director of employment and reintegration, Stephen Cunningham, said employers were getting on board but not enough of them.

On Tuesday, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis held two hui in Palmerston North where he discussed reintegrating offenders into society.

He urged employers there to take a chance and give jobs to former offenders.

You can hear more about life after prison on Insight, after the 8am news on Sunday with Wallace Chapmam on RNZ.

By Leigh-Marama McLachlan

rnz.co.nz

Prisoner (file picture)
Source: istock.com

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Video: Aerial footage shows Hurricane Michael's obliterated 'ground zero'

Startling aerial footage taken over Mexico Beach in Florida shows hundreds of houses washed away after Hurricane Michael.

Florida Governor Rick Scott says the Florida National Guard got into Mexico Beach and found 20 people who survived a direct hit from Hurricane Michael.

The town where the hurricane made landfall Wednesday (Thursday NZT) remains very difficult to reach by land a day later, with roads covered by fallen trees, power lines and other storm debris.

Overhead video from a CNN helicopter Thursday morning (today NZT) reveals widespread devastation across the town of about 1,000 people.

Entire blocks of homes near the beach have been washed away, leaving nothing but concrete slabs in the sand.

Rows and rows of other homes are smashed to pieces or crunched to the ground and leaning at odd angles.

The town was under a mandatory evacuation order as the rapidly developing storm targeted the coast, but some people were determined to ride out the hurricane.

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Turkey steps up pressure on Saudi Arabia over missing journalist

Turkey's president increased his pressure on Saudi Arabia over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, local media reported today, while President Donald Trump expressed reservations over withholding American arm sales over the writer.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan's comments appear aimed at slowly intensifying the criticism while balancing the need to maintain the kingdom's investments in Turkey and relations on other issues.

Mr Trump's remarks, on the other hand, came as prominent American lawmakers increasingly criticise Saudi Arabia - America's longtime security ally in the region.

Turkish officials fear Mr Khashoggi was killed by the Saudis after walking into the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul on October 2, though they haven't offered any evidence to support that.

The kingdom calls the allegation "baseless," but has not offered any evidence to explain why Mr Khashoggi simply walked out of the consulate and disappeared though his fiancée waited outside for him.

Mr Erdogan was quoted by Turkish media today as telling journalists flying with him back home from a visit to Hungary that "we cannot remain silent to such an incident".

"How is it possible for a consulate, an embassy not to have security camera systems? Is it possible for the Saudi Arabian consulate where the incident occurred not to have camera systems?" Mr Erdogan asked. 

"If a bird flew, if a mosquito appeared, these systems would catch them and (I believe) they (the Saudis) would have to most advanced of systems."

Meanwhile, Mr Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that he has a call in to Mr Khashoggi's fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, who has appealed to the president and first lady Melania Trump for help.

Mr Trump said he had spoken with the Saudis about what he called a "bad situation," but he did not disclose details of his conversations. He also said the US. was working "very closely" with Turkey, "and I think we'll get to the bottom of it".

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said national security adviser John Bolton and presidential senior adviser Jared Kushner spoke on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT) to Crown Prince Mohammed about Mr Khashoggi.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo then had a follow-up call with the crown prince to reiterate the US request for information and a thorough, transparent investigation.

In an interview later on Wednesday with Fox News @ Night, Mr Trump said he wanted to find out what happened to Mr Khashoggi but appeared reluctant to consider blocking arms sales, citing economic reasons.

"I think that would be hurting us," Mr Trump said. "We have jobs, we have a lot of things happening in this country. We have a country that's doing probably better economically than it's ever done before."

"Part of that is what we're doing with our defense systems and everybody's wanting them," he continued. "And frankly, I think that that would be a very, very tough pill to swallow for our country. I mean, you're affecting us and, you know, they're always quick to jump that way."

On his first international trip as president, Mr Trump visited Saudi Arabia and announced $US110 billion in proposed arms sales. The administration also relies on Saudi support for its Middle East agenda to counter Iranian influence, fight extremism and support an expected peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians.

Mr Khashoggi had gone to the consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to get paperwork he needed for his upcoming marriage while his Turkish fiancee waited outside.

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday evening that US intelligence intercepts outlined a Saudi plan to detain Mr Khashoggi. The Post, citing anonymous US officials familiar with the intelligence, said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered an operation to lure Mr Khashoggi from his home in Virginia, where he lived most recently, to Saudi Arabia and then detain him.

Turkish officials have released footage of a squad of Saudi men arriving in Istanbul the day Jamal Khashoggi vanished. Source: BBC


Hurricane Michael charges into US Southeast after slamming north Florida, leaving at least two dead

The most powerful hurricane on record to hit Florida's Panhandle left wide destruction and at least two people dead and wasn't nearly finished  today as it crossed Georgia, now as a tropical storm, toward the Carolinas, that are still reeling from epic flooding by Hurricane Florence.

A day after the supercharged storm crashed ashore amid white sand beaches, fishing towns and military bases, Michael was no longer a Category Four monster packing 250 km/h winds. As the tropical storm continued to weaken it was still menacing the US Southeast with heavy rains, blustery winds and possible spinoff tornadoes.

Authorities said at least two people have died, a man killed by a tree falling on a Panhandle home and according to WMAZ-TV, an 11-year-old girl was also killed by a tree falling on a home in southwest Georgia. Search and rescue crews were expected to escalate efforts to reach hardest-hit areas and check for anyone trapped or injured in the storm debris.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the eye of Michael was about 40 kilometres east of Macon in central Georgia at 2am Thursday (Thursday evening NZT). The storm had top sustained winds of 96 km/h and was moving to the northeast at 32 km/h.

After daylight Thursday residents of north Florida would just be beginning to take stock of the enormity of the disaster.

Damage in Panama City near where Michael came ashore on Wednesday afternoon was so extensive that broken and uprooted trees and downed power lines lay nearly everywhere. Roofs were peeled away, sent airborne, and homes were split open by fallen trees. Twisted street signs lay on the ground. Palm trees whipped wildly in the winds. More than 380,000 homes and businesses were without power at the height of the storm.

Vance Beu, 29, was staying with his mother at her home, Spring Gate Apartments, a complex of single-story wood frame buildings where they piled up mattresses around themselves for protection. A pine tree punched a hole in their roof and his ears even popped when the barometric pressure went lower. The roar of the winds, he said, sounded like a jet engine.

"It was terrifying, honestly. There was a lot of noise. We thought the windows were going to break at any time," Mr Beu said.

Sally Crown rode out Michael on the Florida Panhandle thinking at first that the worst damage was the many trees downed in her yard. But after the storm passed, she emerged to check on the cafe she manages and discovered a scene of breathtaking destruction.

"It's absolutely horrendous. Catastrophic," Ms Crown said. "There's flooding. Boats on the highway. A house on the highway. Houses that have been there forever are just shattered."

Governor Rick Scott announced that thousands of law enforcement officers, utility crews and search and rescue teams would now go into recovery mode. He said "aggressive" search and rescue efforts would get underway.

"Hurricane Michael cannot break Florida," Mr Scott vowed.

Michael’s scale and force surprised many, having suddenly strengthened while passing over the Caribbean Sea’s warm waters. Source: 1 NEWS