'House of Horrors' Child-Torture Turpins Sentenced To Life; Survivors Speak Out In Court
“My parents took my whole life from me, but now I'm taking my life back,” one daughter told the court.
RIVERSIDE, CA — The Southern California couple who admitted to imprisoning, starving, and torturing 12 of their children were sentenced to life in prison on Friday. During the emotional hearing, several of the couple’s children addressed the court, publicly speaking about their abuse for the first time.
David Turpin, 57, and Louise Turpin, 50, pleaded guilty last February to 14 counts each that included torture, child cruelty, false imprisonment, and dependent adult abuse. The charges stemmed from crimes the Turpins committed against 12 of the couple’s 13 children.
Emotions ran high during the Turpins’ sentencing hearing last Friday, especially when some of the children who survived the couple’s torment addressed the court. The children described the agony of their upbringing, but reiterated that they loved their parents. David and Louise each wept openly throughout the proceedings.
One daughter told the court, "My parents took my whole life from me, now I’m taking my life back. Life may have been bad, but it made me strong. I saw my dad change my mom; they almost changed me. I’m a fighter, I’m strong.”
A son, who said he’s now in college, stated, “I cannot describe in words what we went through growing up. Sometimes I still have nightmares of things that happened, such as my siblings being chained up or getting beaten. But that is the past and this is now. I love my parents, and have forgiven them for a lot of the things that they did to us. I have learned so much and become very independent.”
In response, Louise Turpin told the court, “I'm sorry for everything I've done to hurt my children. I love my children so much. I only want the best for them. Their happiness is very important to me.”
After David Turpin repeatedly broke down, his lawyer read part of his statement, which declared, “My homeschooling and discipline had good intentions. I'm sorry if I've done anything to cause them harm … I never intended for any harm to come to my children … I hope the very best for my children in the future."
Despite requests for a lighter sentence from the children, Judge Bernard Schwartz deemed the Turpins’ crimes "selfish, cruel and inhumane," and gave the couple the maximum sentence — 25 years to life in prison.
The Turpins’ situation came to light in January 2018, after a 17-year-old daughter escaped the family’s home in Perris, California, and telephoned 911 for help.
During the 911 call, the teen said, “My parents are abusive. They abuse and my two little sisters right now are chained up … I can't breathe because of how dirty the house is. We don't take baths. I don't know if we need to go to the doctor."
The 17-year-old had trouble recalling the house address, saying they were rarely allowed outside. She later told investigators she’d been hit, choked, and sexually abused by her father.
In response to the call, Riverside County Sheriff's Department deputies entered the Turpins’ home. Inside, amid, “dark and foul-smelling surroundings,” officers discovered the couple’s 12 children, aged two to 29, being held captive in nightmarish circumstances.
Some of the Turpin children were bound to their beds and other furniture by chains and padlocks. Each of them was filthy and dangerously undernourished to the point of “starving.”
Several of the older children were so severely emaciated that police didn’t originally recognize that they were of adult age. Only the youngest child, who was two at the time, did not exhibit signs of extreme abuse.
After the sentencing, Jack Osborn, the attorney for the Turpins’ children, told the press, “All of them are doing really well physically. That's a miracle. They want to be normal adults — going to Target, going to baseball games. We are confident, given what they've been through and how resilient that they are, that they're going to be really successful…. Our clients are most of all survivors, they are not victims."