Decades before David and Louise Turpin were arrested for holding their 13 children captive in unspeakably horrific conditions, a black woman and 19 kids were found to have been held against their will and tortured in a home in the same California city.
“Oh my gosh, it was deja vu all over, I couldn’t believe it,” Laura Cowan told Fox 8 in Ohio.
Cowan and her two children were held captive by her boyfriend who turned out to be a polygamist. It is believed as many as 19 kids were kept against their will for three years before their rescue in 1998, reports the New York Daily News.
Mansa Musa Muhummed invited Cowan and her kids to live with his family in a motel room in Riverside, and they later moved to Perris, the same city where the Turpins starved and tortured their kids before their arrest this month.
Cowan recalled the moment when she first saw his children in the motel room.
“They were all sitting on their knees staring at the wall,” she told the Los Angeles Times in 2011. “They were like little robots.”
Cowan told Fox 8 that she and her children were locked in a garage for six months at one point. She said she was stunned to learn about the Turpins.
“It’s similar to my own story: 13 children being held captive like that, in the same location in Perris, and also the same sheriff’s department that rescued us, rescued them,” she told Fox 8.
Cowan was freed in 1998 after slipping a note to a postal worker. Muhummed is currently serving seven consecutive life sentences for torturing and beating his wives and the children.
Cowan now helps other victims of domestic violence and hosts her own radio show in Ohio.
“I savor every moment now,” she told the Los Angeles Times in 2011. “I’m just happy to be alive.”
Meanwhile, some of the 19 kids who were held captive told a different story about Cowan.
In an episode of “Dr. Phil” last year, the now-grown children featured on the show claimed that Cowan was never a victim of Muhammed in the same way they were, and was actually complicit in their ongoing detainment and torture. (Watch in the video above.)
Watch an interview with Cowan below: