The children of David and Louise Turpin shared emotional statements in court Friday as their parents were sentenced to life in prison for torturing, starving, and holding them hostage for years.
In February, the California couple pleaded guilty in Riverside County Superior Court to torture and dependent abuse as well as several counts of false imprisonment, child endangerment, and adult abuse in the “house of horrors” case that shocked the country. The abuse came to light in January 2018, when their 17-year-old daughter escaped from their Perris home and used her brother’s cellphone to call 911.
“My parents took my whole life from me but now I’m taking my life back,” one of the couple’s 13 children, identified as Jane Doe #4, tearfully said in court. “I’m a fighter, I’m strong and I’m shooting through life like a rocket.”
Before the hearing, the judge allowed the victims to speak under the guise of anonymity.
“I’m in college now and living independently,” the daughter added. “I love hanging out with my friends and life is great. I believe everything happens for a reason. Life may have been bad, but it made me strong. I fought to become the person I am.”
Prosecutors allege the Turpins abused 12 of their 13 children, routinely shackling, beating, and starving them in an act of torture and neglect so severe it stunted the growth of some of the kids. Two of the Turpin daughters are now unable to bear children as a result of the abuse.
The siblings, who ranged in age from 2 to 29, were isolated from the outside world in their home about 60 miles outside of Los Angeles and were denied showers, medical care, and sometimes even food, prosecutors said. As punishment, the children were tied up for “weeks or even months at a time,” Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said.
When authorities arrived to the house after the daughter’s call, she didn’t know what month it was or what the word medication meant. She claimed she hadn’t been bathed in months.
“I cannot describe in words what we went through growing up. Sometimes I still have nightmares of things that had happened, such as my siblings being chained up or getting beaten. But that is the past and this is now,” one of the couple’s sons said Friday, adding that he loves his parents and now forgives them for “a lot of the things that they did to us.”
On Friday, Superior Court Judge Bernard J. Schwartz sentenced the pair to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years for their “selfish, cruel and inhumane” treatment, a ruling previously agreed upon with the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.
“The only reason your punishment is less than the maximum is that you took responsibility and spared your children the harm of reliving it,” Schwartz said in court.
The parents had an opportunity to speak before the sentencing, each showing remorse for their actions and tearfully asking their children for forgiveness.
“I’m sorry for everything I’ve done to hurt my children,” Louise Turpin said. “I love them more than they could ever imagine.”
David Turpin broke down in tears before he addressed the court, prompting his attorney to read his hand-written statement, which expressed hope his children will “remain” close since their parents will “not be with them.”
“I thank God for all of my children,” the father’s statement read, adding that he is sorry “if I’ve done anything to cause them harm.”