Police found several of the thirteen children of David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, “shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings”.
The children were denied food, basic hygiene and medical care and were punished for perceived infractions such as washing their hands above the wrist.
They were allowed to shower only once a year.
And Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said the victims were chained for weeks or even months at a time, not released even to use the bathroom.
The children were so emaciated, that police were stunned to find out one of them was aged 29 – claiming she looked about ten-years-old.
Stunted and pale, some of the Turpin family children could potentially have cognitive issues and nerve damage.
Many of them are unaware of basic concepts such as police or medicine, it was discovered after officers asked them to find a first aid kit only to receive confused faces in response.
Their recovery and integration back into normal society is expected to be a struggle long and difficult – and experts are divided over their prospects.
Susan Curtiss, a University of California linguistics professor, has previously worked closely with other abused children.
She claims all the Turpins needed was unconditional love and support – and to be kept together.
Speaking to the Guardian, she said: “They are emerging from their own horrible world to a world they know nothing about.
“One thing they do know is each other. That’s the only constant other than their own parents.”
“The same one or two people should be there all day every day, touching them softly, a loving, gentle presence … to lead them into society.”
However the professor, who befriended Genie, said she had no confidence in the system to ensure their recovery was pain-free as possible.
She added: “I have no confidence in any of the governmental systems. There probably will be a tug of war because this is the kind of situation that can make people famous. Many people want to be well known and publish papers … that’s what they’re after.”
Nora Baladerian, an LA-based clinical psychologist and licensed counsellor, also advised keeping the siblings together – and exposing them to positive experiences such as scenic nature and beautiful music.
She said: “They have to heal from the separation of their parents and the knowledge of what their parents did to them. They need to acquire self-esteem and skills for future life.
“If they live in the memory of their suffering rather than hopes and dreams for the future, they won’t do so well.”