Eerie California captivity similarities remind Lakewood survivor of days chained, tortured

LAKEWOOD, OH (WOIO) - For a local domestic violence survivor, the story of 13 children being held captive inside a California house hits especially close to home.

"They called it a house of horrors, and that's what they called ours too," said domestic violence survivor Laura Cowan.

Chained up, malnourished and tortured, are words the Riverside County Sheriff's Department used to describe the conditions the Turpin children lived in inside their Paris, CA home.

Cowan understands all to well what they went through.

"It was a house of horrors. It was doom and gloom," she said.

In the 90s, Cowan herself spent more than six months chained up inside a garage with 13 children and two other adults.

Her captor was someone she thought she could trust.

"You don't understand why a person does that to you, especially a loved one, especially someone who's supposed to be taking care of you. This is not a total stranger. This was their parents. He was my husband. Why did they do that?" she said.

The similarities only get more unsettling. It's been 20 years since Cowan escaped, but this story immediately took her right back.

Cowan was held captive in Paris, CA which was the same place the Turpins were found.

When she finally broke free, the same sheriff's department stepped in to help.

"I'm quite sure someone over there probably said, 'Hey, this reminds me of that case back in '98,'" Cowan said.

Cowan escaped by slipping a note to postal worker. She knows the courage it took for the 17-year-old girl to finally break free.

"That little girl was so brave to do what she did, to rescue her siblings," Cowan said. "She's my hero. She is. She saved all of them."

Even though the 13 siblings, who range in age from two to 29, are now free, Cowan says they may never fully recover.

"Post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, they're going to go through a lot and just wonder why their parents did that to them. That's going to be the question on their minds," she said.

Cowan's captor was sentenced to seven consecutive life-sentences for what he did to her and the other women and children inside the home.

Cowan wants people to get to know their neighbors, and stresses, if you see something, say something, because she said if someone would've spoken up, the children may have been rescued sooner.

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