David Allen Turpin and Louise Ann Turpin, who pleaded guilty to torturing their children, among other crimes
|Location||Perris, California, United States|
|Convicted||David Allen Turpin and Louise Ann Turpin|
|Charges||Torture, false imprisonment, abuse of a dependent adult, child abuse, lewd act on a child under 14 years old (David)|
|Sentence||25 years to life|
The Turpin family came to the attention of the police and public in 2018 as a severe case of child maltreatment. On January 14, a Turpin child escaped from the home of David and Louise Turpin in Perris, California and contacted police who then raided the house and found disturbing evidence of prolonged abuse and torturous living conditions. Given the number of dependents involved, 13 siblings, the degree of abuse and the protracted nature occurring over decades, the story garnered significant national and international interest in the press. Experts in family abuse considered the case to be "extraordinary" for a number of reasons.
In February 2019, both parents pleaded guilty on 14 felony counts, including cruelty to a dependent adult, child cruelty, torture and false imprisonment. In April of that same year, they were sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 25 years.
David Allen Turpin (born October 17, 1961) and Louise Anna Turpin (born May 24, 1968) married in 1985 in Pearisburg, Virginia, when David was 23 and Louise was 16. This angered Louise's father, who was a pastor.
According to David's parents, he was a computer engineer who graduated from Virginia Tech and had worked for Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. In 1979, he graduated from Princeton High School in West Virginia, which Louise also attended until 1985.
The couple are adherents of the Quiverfull movement and Pentecostalism. According to David's parents, the couple kept having children because "God called on them" to do so. From 1988 to 2015 they had ten daughters and three sons. All their children’s names begin with the letter “J”.
According to Louise's sister, she (the sister), Louise and a female cousin were sexually abused as children by their maternal grandfather. Another sister claimed that their mother accepted cash in return for allowing their grandfather to sexually abuse them. The sisters have said that Louise became obsessed with witchcraft, Satanic rituals, and Ouija boards, and had tried to persuade one of them to join a snake handling festival, and that Louise and David engaged in "swinging".
After the family left, neighbors found feces and beds with ropes tied to them in the house, along with dead cats and piles of garbage around the property.
At the Turpins' Perris, California house, 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. 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."
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 "DLand" and "DL4ever".
Escape and rescue
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 (13 years old) became frightened and turned back but the 17-year-old got some distance away and called 9-1-1 on a cell phone she had brought with her. When police officers met her she showed them photos of conditions inside the house.
Deputies of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department raided the house, inside which they found the other twelve children; one was shackled to a bed and it appeared that two others had been shackled until just before officers arrived. The children were so malnourished that deputies thought they were all under 18 years old, when in fact seven were over 18. The sheriff's department said that Louise was "perplexed as to why we were at that residence." The house contained hundreds of journals written by the children about their lives.
All the children spent several weeks in hospitals, after which the six minors were put into two foster homes. In early 2020 the Riverside County Deputy District Attorney said that "Some of [the children] are living independently, living in their own apartment, and have jobs and are going to school. Some volunteer in the community. They go to church." One had graduated from college.
Nature of the crimes
For years, the parents had imprisoned, beaten and strangled their children, allowing them to eat just once per day and shower just once per year. The older children appeared much younger because of malnourishment; the 29-year-old weighed just 82 pounds (37 kg). Some appeared to lack basic knowledge of the world, for example being unfamiliar with what medicine and police were.
The case is considered "extraordinary for numerous reasons", including that abuse was inflicted on multiple children by both parents, and the calculated and systematic nature of the abuse and torture.
The Turpins were charged with twelve counts of torture, twelve 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. They were held in lieu of $9 to $12 million[further explanation needed] bail. 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.
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 cruelty, four counts of false imprisonment, and six counts of cruelty to an adult dependent. Both were sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 25 years. Experts believe they will never receive parole due to the severity of the crime, making it effectively a life sentence.
- "Turpin captivity case: California parents admit torture". BBC News. February 22, 2019. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
- Anemona Hartocollis (April 19, 2019). "Couple Who Tortured 12 Children in Their California Home Are Sentenced to Life". The New York Times. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
- Moots, Sumiko; Arkin, Daniel; Siemaszko, Corky (January 21, 2018). "California torture house: 13 siblings allowed to eat once a day, shower once a year". NBC News. Perris. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
- Balsamo, Michael (January 19, 2018). "What to Know About David and Louise Turpin, the Parents Accused of Torturing 12 Siblings". TIME. California. Archived from the original on January 20, 2018.
- Candace Sutton (January 22, 2018). "How David Turpin kidnapped Louise at 16 to marry him". news.com.au. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
- "Bookworm: 'The Family Next Door' a muddy, overwhelming read | Lifestyles". globegazette.com. Retrieved April 5, 2020.
- Amy Taxin. "California parents of 13 plead guilty to torture, abuse". Kmph.com. Retrieved April 20, 2019.
- Powell, Amy (January 16, 2018). "Grandparents say 'God called' on Perris couple to have so many children". KABC. Perris. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
- Jordan, Greg (January 20, 2018). "Mother of California 'house of horrors' from Princeton". Bluefield Daily Telegraph.
- 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. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
- Carly Sitzer. "Quiverfull: More Children For God's Army". In Touch Weekly. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
- Little, Liz (May 8, 2018). "Mum sold our bodies to granddad". 9News.com.au. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
- "Turpin mum, Louise, 'sold to paedophile', says sister Teresa Robinette". News.com.au. Retrieved February 23, 2019.
- "Secret shame that sparked family horror". Thechronicle.com.au. Retrieved February 23, 2019.
- 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."
- "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.
- Glatt, John (July 14, 2019). "Airfares, fancy clothes and lavish meals: How the Turpins kept their evil secret".
- Ramirez Jr., Domingo (January 16, 2018). "California couple accused of torturing their children had North Texas ties". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Fort Worth. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
- 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.
- Yan, Holly (January 18, 2018). "Aunts of 13 captive children reveal years of secrecy and concerns". CNN. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
- "County District Attorney is going after scam artists | News". recordgazette.net. June 25, 2019. Retrieved April 5, 2020.
- "Horrific new details emerge in case of 13 captive siblings". ABC News. January 18, 2018. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
- "Turpin case: Shackled California siblings 'victims of torture'". BBC News. January 16, 2018. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
- 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.
- Esquivel, Paloma; Rubin, Joel; Lau, Maya (January 16, 2018). "Children found shackled and malnourished in Southern California home; parents arrested". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
- Pamer, Melissa; Friel, Courtney (January 18, 2018). "Louise Turpin Was 'Perplexed' When Deputies Arrived at Perris Home Where Malnourished Children Were Shackled: Sheriff's Capt". KTLA. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
- Kelman, Brett (January 19, 2018). "Hundreds of journals found in home with 13 captive children". The Desert Sun. USA Today. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
- "David and Louise Turpin face new charges in captivity case". CBS News. February 23, 2018. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
- "The Turpin Kids Are 'Happy' and Building New Lives 2 Years After Escaping 'House of Horrors'". April 8, 2020.
- White, Jeremy B. (January 18, 2018). "Turpin family latest: Parents charged with torture and false imprisonment following discovery of 13 siblings". The Independent. Riverside. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
- 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."
- Cullen, Terence (January 18, 2018). "Tortured California siblings reportedly showered twice a year, ate once a day". New York Daily News. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
- Melissa Pamer, Sara Welch, Kimberly Cheng (January 18, 2018). "Chained, Starved, Not Allowed to Bathe, Turpin Children 'Lack a Basic Knowledge of Life,' DA Says". KTLA. Retrieved January 19, 2018.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Amy Taxin and Brian Melley, The Associated Press (January 18, 2018). "$12M bail for 'depraved' parents charged with torturing children". The York Dispatch. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
- Ellis, Ralph (May 5, 2018). "David Turpin charged with 8 counts of perjury". CNN. Retrieved May 5, 2018.
- Marissa Wenzke (February 22, 2019). "Turpin Case: Perris Parents Accused of Torturing, Starving Their 12 Children Plead Guilty to Charges". KTLA. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
- "Mule Creek State Prison Inmate Search and Prison Information".
- McNaughtan, David. "Mule Creek is home to some of California's most notorious felons". Ledger Dispatch.