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Posted on Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 7:56 p.m.

Man charged in parrot attack has lengthy criminal record

By Lee Higgins

A Jackson man accused of violently shaking his pet parrot Tuesday on an Ann Arbor street has a lengthy criminal record, including convictions for third-offense domestic violence and assault with a dangerous weapon, Washtenaw County court records show.

Christopher Alan Turpen, 49, was arraigned Wednesday at the Washtenaw County Jail on charges of animal torture and delivery of marijuana.


Christopher Alan Turpen

Turpen can't be released because he is being held for authorities in Sarasota, Florida, who have a warrant charging him with assault and battery, jail officials said this afternoon.

Ann Arbor police say Turpen, who kept the parrot in his backpack, shook it violently as its feathers flew, causing enough commotion for three witnesses to call 911. Officers arrested Turpen on South Main Street at 9:30 p.m. and found an unspecified quantity of marijuana in his backpack, Lt. Mark St. Amour said.

Turpen claimed he was disciplining and training the bird, police said. According to police, the parrot fought back, leaving one of Turpen's thumbs scratched up and bloodied.

The bird was turned over to an animal rescue volunteer and was examined by a veterinarian. It had a cut on its head and bruising on one leg, around an eye and on its wings, authorities said.

Records show Turpen lived "on and off" for 15 years with his three children and their mother, including in northeast Ann Arbor during the 1990s. He worked as a roofer until he fell off a roof and was injured, records show.

According to court documents, Turpen drank heavily and has a history of being physically abusive to the mother of his children. She twice obtained personal protection orders against him.

After their relationship fell apart in the late 1990s, records show she began dating another man, and Turpen didn’t approve. Turpen was convicted in 2003 of assault with a dangerous weapon after he confronted the man outside an apartment complex in northeast Ann Arbor and cut him in the nose with a knife, records show.

Turpen's criminal record dates back at least 15 years, including other convictions for intimidating a witness, first-degree retail fraud, second-degree retail fraud and violating probation.

Records show that in 1999, a Superior Township woman obtained a personal protection order against Turpen after she asked him on a date to her class reunion. According to a letter she wrote in her application for that order, Turpen drank heavily at the reunion and "leaned over me and bit me on the shoulder and above my left breast."

She wrote Turpen was looking for someone to beat up and then harassed a deejay, swearing at her when she attempted to calm him down. She called 911 and police responded, records show.

Turpen is scheduled to return to court for a preliminary hearing on Sept. 29.

Lee Higgins covers crime and courts for He can be reached by phone at (734) 623-2527 and e-mail at



Sun, Sep 26, 2010 : 10:33 p.m.

Where is the concern or passion when people are mugged. PLEASE, we can't waste too much of our police time on relatively minor events like these. In a time of severe financial constraints, we need to have priorities, and animals do not have equal priorities to people. Give the guy a citation and move on.


Sat, Sep 25, 2010 : 12:01 a.m.

The larger parrots have the intelligence of 4 year old children. That means all of you sick bastards think it's ok to torture a 4 year old human? Or any helpless being... part of being grown up is knowing when to keep your big mouth SHUT! Clearly those of you who think it funny have less intelligence than the bird who was tortured. There is nothing amusing or funny about this travesty. The bird will never be the innocent being it was before it got into the hands of this son-of-bitch. In the avicultural community we would like to see him get the death penalty, but in lieu of that, sentencing to the full extent of the law. I spoke with the police department and a friend spoke with the prosecutor... he is booked for two felonies and has a warrant. He won't be going anywhere soon thank goodness. This creep is evil to all who cross his path. He has ruined the life of the parrot, because that bird will always remember humans are dangerous and cause pain and suffering. How would you like to be shaken violently by someone 200 times your size? I wish well for that tortured bird, because you can be certain that this wasn't the first time he hurt that bird. It was the first time anyone called about it... Perhaps with care and love this being of light and magic will learn to trust again. But that's a big perhaps.


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 2:45 p.m.

Parrots are very intelligent and sensitive creatures. They can also be very, very devoted to a human who treats them right.


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 1:32 p.m.

"... I get the sense that some think this is amusing... an Onion-like story....... whether it's a small bird, an adult, a child, dog or parrot does not matter. It is offensive and cruel. No living being should be subjected to that type of violence...." Agreed. As for context, this is a news site where a staffer once prominently declared: "They're just swans!"


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 12:38 p.m.

I am sorry anyone thinks beating up an animal is funny. That animal, that bird, is injured and traumatized. There is nothing funny here. Shame on all of you for taking joy in the misery of a harmless creature.


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 11:34 a.m.

@Constance: I'm sure most, if not all who commented about this would have preferred to resolve this issue on the spot with this guy. However, the guidelines AA.Com has would have necessitated the removal of the comment as to how the resolution would have occurred.

Constance Colthorp Amrine

Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 10:13 a.m.

In reading the comments on this article and yesterday's, I get the sense that some think this is amusing (not news-worthy, a joke, an Onion-like story). That saddens me to think some are that callous or immune. This is an example of grotesque violence to a living creature. And whether it's a small bird, an adult, a child, dog or parrot does not matter. It is offensive and cruel. No living being should be subjected to that type of violence, particularly in captivity. The connections to his violent record to his ex-wife and children are really not a surprise. I There is a relationship to violence. I'm grateful for the compassion of the people who called 911.


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 10:07 a.m.

So glad he's being held for authorities in Florida! Let someone else deal with him!

Milton Shift

Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 9:54 a.m.

Who cares about the pot? Sounds like if anything he needed more of it - one of those jerks you never want to see leave the couch.

4 Fingers

Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 9:52 a.m.

Somewhat Concerned- Isn't that the truth!


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 8:59 a.m.

Jimmy McNulty gets my vote for the best comment.


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 8:24 a.m.

Surprise, surprise.


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 8:18 a.m.

Most likely the parrot was a Norwegian Blue and he just overly desired the lovely plummage.


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 7:59 a.m.

Christopher Alan Turpen and Mel Gibson should get together and wrestle, the Parrot should referee.

Jimmy McNulty

Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 7:06 a.m.

The best part is about the woman with the PFA order against him. She thought, "do I go to the class reunion alone and risk being embarassed? Hmmmm, maybe I'll bring a date......."

Somewhat Concerned

Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 6:56 a.m.

Wait a minute. Isn't this the colorful sort of local street roamer about whom we wax poetic? Someone who gives Ann Arbor its special charm, like its panhandlers? Someone who makes us unlike Birmingham or other safe, sane places we like to criticize? In a few years, he will be the dearly-missed "Parrot Man" when we reminisce about how quirky Ann Arbor was before it was taken over by corporate suits who overact to parrot torture.


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 11:42 p.m.

1/2 lb of crackers 1/4 lb of breakfast sausage 2 celery ribs 2 carrots 1/2 an onion salt and pepper to taste.


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 11:31 p.m.

Will the parrot testify?


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 10:54 p.m.

poor bird probably had a contact high from the weed he was around. An abused bird will take a good amount of time to trust another human.


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 9:11 p.m.

This should be odd news at best.


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 8:47 p.m.

I heard he thought his parrot was a stool pigeon. The good news is he give the police the bird.


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 8:44 p.m.

I heard he thought his parrot was a stool pigeon. The good news is he give the police the bird.

Urban Sombrero

Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 8:36 p.m.

Too bad the parrot didn't peck his eyes out.


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 8:22 p.m.

What a piece of work. This guy obviously has some serious violence issues.

5c0++ H4d13y

Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 8:10 p.m.

Okay so um? When he's in jail and the other inmates say "Whadda in for?" what does he say?

Ashley Weigel

Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 7:23 p.m.

...that guy just looks like the kinda guy who would beat up his parrot. What a silly reason to go to court.