Turpin case

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Turpin case
David Allen Turpin and Louise Anna Turpin, who pleaded guilty to torturing their children, among other crimes
LocationPerris, California, U.S.
ConvictedDavid Allen Turpin and Louise Ann Turpin
ChargesTorture, false imprisonment, abuse of a dependent adult, child abuse
Sentence25 years to life with the possibility of parole after 25 years[1]

The Turpin case involved the abuse of children and dependent adults by their parents, David and Louise Turpin of Perris, California, U.S. The ages of the 13 victims ranged from 2 years old to 29. On January 14, 2018, one of the children, then-17-year-old Jordan Turpin, escaped from the family home and called local police, who then raided the residence and discovered disturbing evidence. Given the number of dependents involved, the degree of abuse, and the protracted nature occurring over decades, the story garnered significant national and international news. Experts in family abuse considered the case to be extraordinary for many reasons.

In February 2019, both Turpin parents pleaded guilty on 14 felony counts, including abuse of a dependent adult, child abuse, torture, and false imprisonment.[2] In April, they were sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 25 years.[1][3]


David Allen Turpin (born October 17, 1961) was formerly a computer engineer who graduated from Virginia Tech[4] and had worked for Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.[5][6] He met his wife, Louise Ann Turpin (née Robinette, born May 24, 1968),[7] at Princeton High School in Princeton, West Virginia.[8] The couple married in Pearisburg, Virginia, in 1985, when David was 23 years old and Louise was 16 years old.[9]

The Turpins are Pentecostal Christians, and as part of their beliefs, the couple had numerous children because "God called on them" to do so.[6][8] They produced ten daughters and three sons between 1988 and 2015. The couple later experimented in swinging.[10][11]

The Turpin family lived in Fort Worth, Texas until 1999, when they moved to Rio Vista, Texas. In 2007, the Turpin parents moved 10 of their children into an isolated trailer on their property. David and Louise took the two youngest and left the rest of the children to fend for themselves, bringing groceries on a weekly basis but not enough to feed everybody.[12] One of their daughters, Jordan Turpin, aged six years at the time, stated there was "a lot of starving", and she had resorted to eating "ketchup or mustard or ice".[12] After the family left the Rio Vista property in 2010,[13][14] neighbors found feces and beds with ropes tied to them, along with dead cats and piles of garbage.[15]

In 2014, the Turpins moved to Perris, California.[16] Neighbors reported that the children were silent unless spoken to, "like children whose only defense was to be invisible"; would skip rather than walk; and appeared malnourished and pale.[8]

One of Louise's sisters later said that David and Louise refused to let her see the children, and another sister said she had been concerned about the children's weight, but Louise's aunt said the family pictures posted on Facebook had made her think that "they were one big happy family."[17]

The children did not spend all of their time in captivity. Photos emerged of the parents and all 13 children visiting Disneyland in nearby Anaheim. The boys and girls were dressed in matching Disney T-shirts. David and Louise had an affinity for Disney and for the park. The vanity plates on the couple's two cars were "DSLAND" and "DL4EVER".[18]

David and Louise had been planning to move the family to Oklahoma at the time of their arrest.[19] Jordan Turpin overheard her parents speaking about the move and decided it was time to call the police.[20]

Escape and rescue[edit]

By 2018, the Turpin children had been planning to escape their parents for more than two years. On January 14, 2018, two of the girls left the house through a window. The younger girl (age 13) became frightened and turned back, but Jordan, then 17, got some distance away and called 911 on a deactivated cell phone she had brought with her;[21][22] she told the dispatcher that she and her siblings were being abused by their parents and that the smell in the house was so bad sometimes she could barely breathe. She also stated that two of her sisters and one of her brothers were currently chained to their beds.[20] When the first police officer arrived, Jordan showed him photos of conditions inside the house.[22]

Deputies of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department raided the house, stating they were there for a "welfare check".[22][23] Louise and David answered the door. The sheriff's department said that Louise was "perplexed as to why we were at that residence."[24] Inside, they encountered the stench of human excrement, decaying garbage, dead pets, and moldy food, with every surface covered in trash. Later, they found the other 12 children; one had been shackled to a bed for weeks[20] and it appeared that two others had been shackled until just before officers arrived.[25] Children were found with bruises on their arms, appearing frail, and caked with dirt.[20] The children were so malnourished that deputies thought they were all under 18 years old, when in fact seven were over 18.[26] The house contained hundreds of journals written by the children about their lives.[27]

Nature of the crimes[edit]

For years, the parents imprisoned, beat, and strangled their children, allowing them to eat only once a day and bathe only once a year.[7] The older children appeared much younger because of malnourishment; the 29-year-old (Jennifer) weighed just 82 pounds (37 kg).[9] The 12-year-old child had an arm circumference equivalent to that of a 4-month-old baby.[12] Some appeared to lack basic knowledge of the world and had a limited vocabulary, for example being unfamiliar with what "medication" was, or who police were.[28]

The case is considered "extraordinary for numerous reasons", including that abuse was inflicted on multiple children (as well as dependent adults) by both parents and the calculated and systematic nature of the abuse and torture.[29]

Legal proceedings[edit]

The Turpins were charged with 12 counts of torture, 12 counts of false imprisonment, seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult, and six counts of child abuse; David received an additional charge of a lewd act on a child under 14.[28] They were held in lieu of bail being posted, which media reported was set at $9 million for Louise Turpin and $12 million for David Turpin.[30][31][32][33] David was eventually charged with perjury in relation to affidavits he filed with the California Department of Education over the years, in which he asserted that his children were being educated in a private school.[34] Louise's attorney requested Louise be placed in a pretrial diversion program for mental health treatment due to a diagnosis of histrionic personality disorder; the judge denied the request on the grounds that Turpin posed a risk to the public.[35]

On February 22, 2019, David and Louise each changed their not-guilty pleas to guilty to one count of torture, three counts of willful child abuse, four counts of false imprisonment, and six counts of cruelty to an adult dependent.[36] Both were sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 25 years.[1] Experts believe they will never receive parole due to the severity of the crime, making it effectively a life sentence.[3]

David was originally sent to the Mule Creek State Prison before being sent to the California State Prison, Corcoran, and Louise is in the Central California Women's Facility.[37][38][39]


All the children spent two months in the hospital, after which the six minors were placed in two foster homes.[40] Physicians treated various issues, including heart damage due to lack of nutrients, cognitive impairments, and neuropathy.[20]

In October 2019, five of the younger children were adopted by an abusive family who further tormented them. Allegations included "hitting them in the face with sandals, pulling their hair, hitting them with a belt, and striking their heads". They were forced to eat excessively and then forced to eat "their own vomit", and the foster father was accused of "grabbing and fondling" them and "kissing them on the mouth".[41] The foster family was arrested and charged with abusing multiple children in their care.[42]

In early 2020, the Riverside County Deputy District Attorney reported that the children were living independently, working, and going to school, and that one had graduated from college.[43]

An investigation for the ABC news magazine 20/20, which chronicled the case for the November 2021 special Escape from a House of Horror, reported some of the Turpin children are now neglected by Riverside County social services, some are homeless, and none are authorized to use the hundreds of thousands of dollars donated to them.[44] The money was placed in a trust controlled by a court-appointed public guardian (Vanessa Espinoza). Joshua Turpin stated that he could not access the funds and was denied the purchase of a bicycle.[45] During an interview with Diane Sawyer for the 20/20 special, Jordan Turpin stated that she was released without warning from a foster home with no life skills, no plans for housing, or knowledge of how to obtain food and healthcare. According to the report, Riverside County has hired a private law firm to investigate allegations of abuse by social services.[45]

In July 2022, the Turpin siblings filed lawsuits in California's Riverside County Superior Court against the foster care agency that placed them in a home where they were allegedly subjected to further abuse and neglect. Two nearly-identical lawsuits were filed, with one representing the two older siblings and the other representing the four younger siblings. Riverside County, Foster Family Network, and ChildNet Youth and Family Services were named as defendants in the lawsuit.[46][47]

In media[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Metz, Sam (April 19, 2019). "Parole reform gives older Californians, including David and Louise Turpin, hope for early release". The Desert Sun. Retrieved January 31, 2023.
  2. ^ "Turpin captivity case: California parents admit torture". BBC News. February 22, 2019. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Hartocollis, Anemona (April 19, 2019). "Couple Who Tortured 12 Children in Their California Home Are Sentenced to Life". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 31, 2023. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  4. ^ Bernstein, Sharon; Kenning, Chris (January 17, 2018). "California parents accused of starving, shackling children tried to seem normal". Reuters.
  5. ^ Taxin, Amy (February 22, 2019). "California parents of 13 plead guilty to torture, abuse". KMPH. Retrieved April 20, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Powell, Amy (January 16, 2018). "Grandparents say 'God called' on Perris couple to have so many children". ABC7. Perris, California: KABC. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Moots, Sumiko; Arkin, Daniel; Siemaszko, Corky (January 18, 2018). "California torture house: 13 siblings allowed to eat once a day, shower once a year". Perris: NBC News. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  8. ^ a b c Schmidt, Samantha; Bever, Lindsey (January 16, 2018). "How a malnourished teen escaped a house full of chains and freed her 12 siblings". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on January 19, 2018. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  9. ^ a b Balsamo, Michael (January 19, 2018). "Things to know about California parents accused of torture". AP News. Retrieved July 19, 2023.
  10. ^ Freydkin, Donna (January 23, 2018). "Louise Turpin's sister: Louise and David are dead to me". Today.com. Retrieved February 1, 2018. She tells Megyn Kelly that she hopes her 13 nieces and nephews can one day lead a happy and normal existence. 'I hope to put my arm around them and tell them they have a family that is not deranged.'
  11. ^ "Perris parents accused of torturing their 13 children attempted to have multiple sex partners, relative says". The Desert Sun. Associated Press. January 22, 2018. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  12. ^ a b c Ng, Christina; Scott, Tess; Nunes, Acacia; Mezerski, Brian; Effron, Lauren (November 18, 2021). "Turpin sisters describe living in 'house of horrors': 'I thought I was going to die'". ABC News.
  13. ^ Glatt, John (July 14, 2019). "Airfares, fancy clothes and lavish meals: How the Turpins kept their evil secret". New York Post.
  14. ^ Ramirez, Domingo Jr. (January 16, 2018). "California couple accused of torturing their children had North Texas ties". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Fort Worth. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  15. ^ Hennessy-Fiske, Molly; Esquivel, Paloma (January 21, 2018). "Dead dogs, filth and ropes tied to beds: Inside the Turpins' home in Texas before they moved to Perris". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  16. ^ Rokos, Brian (May 18, 2018). "Turpins' 7 adult children never received education, prosecutor alleges". Press Enterprise.
  17. ^ Yan, Holly (January 18, 2018). "Aunts of 13 captive children reveal years of secrecy and concerns". CNN. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  18. ^ McGrath, Ciaran (January 18, 2018). "Inside Turpin family's Disney holidays: Photos show kids in identical clothes each time". Daily Express.
  19. ^ "County District Attorney is going after scam artists". recordgazette.net. June 25, 2019. Retrieved April 5, 2020.
  20. ^ a b c d e "'The only word I know to call it is hell': Turpin sisters share the details of California family's house of horror". The Mercury News. November 20, 2021.
  21. ^ Shapiro, Emily (January 18, 2018). "Horrific new details emerge in case of 13 captive siblings". ABC News. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  22. ^ a b c "Turpin case: Shackled California siblings 'victims of torture'". BBC News. January 16, 2018. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  23. ^ Elassar, Alaa (November 20, 2021). "'The only word I know to call it is hell': Turpin sisters share the details of their family's house of horror". CNN.
  24. ^ Pamer, Melissa; Friel, Courtney (January 16, 2018). "Louise Turpin Was 'Perplexed' When Deputies Arrived at Perris Home Where Malnourished Children Were Shackled: Sheriff's Capt". KTLA. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  25. ^ Park, Madison; Hamasaki, Sonya; Becker, Stephanie; Simon, Darran (January 18, 2018). "Found shackled and emaciated, children of torture suspects are freed". CNN. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  26. ^ Esquivel, Paloma; Rubin, Joel; Lau, Maya (January 16, 2018). "Children found shackled and malnourished in Southern California home; parents arrested". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 19, 2023.
  27. ^ Kelman, Brett (January 19, 2018). "Hundreds of journals found in home with 13 captive children". The Desert Sun. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  28. ^ a b White, Jeremy B. (January 18, 2018). "Turpin family latest news: Parents charged with torture and false imprisonment following discovery of 13 siblings". The Independent. Riverside. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  29. ^ Bake, Vicky (January 20, 2018). "How can parents torture their children?". BBC News. Retrieved January 21, 2018. The Turpins' case is extraordinary for numerous reasons – particularly as the allegations are against two parents who had multiple children together. Prof Browne, director of the Centre for Forensic and Family Psychology at the University of Nottingham, says it is more common to see cases where there is one child and the parent or parents cannot cope, so the situation spirals out of control. Dr Bernard Gallagher, a child protection expert at the University of Huddersfield, says: "I see a lot of cases of neglect, where children are not washed or fed properly, but you don't often get cases of children being tortured, where the abuse seems calculated."
  30. ^ Gould, Martin (January 25, 2018). "House of Horrors: Neighbours claim parents said their goodbyes before arrest". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved November 20, 2021.
  31. ^ Cullen, Terence (January 18, 2018). "Tortured California siblings reportedly showered twice a year, ate once a day". Daily News. New York. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  32. ^ Pamer, Melissa; Welch, Sara; Cheng, Kimberly (January 18, 2018). "Chained, Starved, Not Allowed to Bathe, Turpin Children 'Lack a Basic Knowledge of Life,' DA Says". KTLA. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  33. ^ Taxin, Amy; Melley, Brian (January 18, 2018). "$12M bail for 'depraved' parents charged with torturing children". The York Dispatch. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  34. ^ Ellis, Ralph (May 5, 2018). "David Turpin charged with 8 counts of perjury". CNN. Retrieved May 5, 2018.
  35. ^ Dillon, Nancy (October 5, 2018). "Accused torture mom Louise Turpin diagnosed with 'histrionic personality disorder,' lawyer says, as judge denies diversion program". Daily News. New York. Retrieved April 8, 2022.
  36. ^ Wenzke, Marissa (February 22, 2019). "Turpin Case: Perris Parents Accused of Torturing, Starving Their 12 Children Plead Guilty to Charges". KTLA. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  37. ^ "CDCR Public Inmate Locator Disclaimer".
  38. ^ "Mule Creek State Prison".
  39. ^ McNaughtan, David (September 5, 2019). "Mule Creek is home to some of California's most notorious felons". Ledger Dispatch.
  40. ^ "David and Louise Turpin face new charges in captivity case". CBS News. February 23, 2018. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
  41. ^ Rubin, Olivia; Ng, Christina; Margolin, Josh; Osunsami, Steve (July 20, 2022). "Turpin siblings file lawsuit alleging 'severe abuse' in foster care after 2018 rescue". ABC News. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
  42. ^ Connelly, Eileen AJ (November 20, 2021). "House of horror Turpin kids still being abused — this time by system". New York Post. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  43. ^ Benitz, Samantha (April 8, 2020). "The Turpin Kids Are 'Happy' and Building New Lives 2 Years After Escaping 'House of Horrors'". In Touch Weekly.
  44. ^ Bruggeman, Lucien; Rubin, Olivia; Mitropoulos, Arielle; Weiner, Allison Hope; Margolin, Josh (November 19, 2021). "Turpin children still 'living in squalor' 4 years after 'house of horrors' rescue, despite donations". ABC News.
  45. ^ a b "Abused Turpin kids now 'betrayed' by social services system". Associated Press News. November 19, 2021. Retrieved September 4, 2022.
  46. ^ Dasrath, Diana; Stump, Scott (July 21, 2022). "6 Turpin siblings file suit claiming they were 'horrifically abused' after rescue". TODAY.com. Retrieved July 22, 2022.
  47. ^ Mark, Michelle (July 21, 2022). "6 of the 13 Turpin siblings held captive in 'house of horrors' have sued over 'severe abuse' in foster care". Insider. Retrieved July 22, 2022.

Further reading[edit]

  • Glatt, John (2020). The family next door: The heartbreaking imprisonment of the thirteen Turpin siblings and their extraordinary rescue. New York: St. Martin's. ISBN 978-1250312303. OCLC 1112280240.

External links[edit]