LOS ANGELES — Before their parents’ sentencing, some of David and Louise Turpin’s children appeared in court Friday to provide emotional testimony about how they and their siblings were held captive and tortured for years in their California home.
“My parents took my whole life from me,” said a daughter, identified as Jane Doe Number 4. “But now I’m taking my life back.”
She said she lives independently and “life is great.”
“I’m a fighter, I’m strong and I’m shooting through life like a rocket,” the daughter said.
David and Louise Turpin cried through the testimony, repeatedly wiping away tears.
The couple was arrested in January 2018 after one of their 13 children, a 17-year-old girl, managed to escape their filthy home in Perris and called police.
Authorities said siblings — who ranged in age from 2 to 29 — had been isolated from the outside world and were often denied showers, medical care and food. They were sometimes tied up for “weeks or even months at a time,” the Riverside District Attorney said last year.
The couple pleaded guilty in February to charges, including torture, adult abuse and child endangerment.
[Original story, published at 9:26 a.m. ET]
But before the California couple learn their sentences, which could happen Friday, they might hear gut-wrenching testimony from some of the children they held captive for years.
“It’s going to be a tough day for everyone — very emotional,” said Jack Osborn, a lawyer representing the Turpins’ adult children.
“Right now, the children are deciding on whether they will be there, or speak. It’s up to each one of them.”
The attorney said a prosecutor will testify and some of the adult children will be there.
Regardless of whether the Turpin children testify, the sentencing of their parents will close a poignant chapter in a ghastly saga of starving children and emaciated adults living in squalor.
Tied up and shackled to beds
When the Turpin children were found in their Perris home in January 2018, they ranged from ages 2 to 29. But some of the adults were so malnourished, they looked like young teenagers.
The siblings were isolated from the outside world and were often denied showers, medical care and food, authorities said. None of them had seen a doctor in more than four years, and none of them had ever visited a dentist.
The children were often tied up for “weeks or even months at a time,” Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said last year.
The victims told investigators that being tied with ropes was initially a form of punishment. But when one victim escaped, the parents started using chains and padlocks to shackle some of the children to beds.
And after years of isolation, Hestrin said, the children seemed to “lack a basic knowledge of life.”
A daring escape
If not for the bravery of a 17-year-old girl, her imprisoned siblings might have never been found.
The teen had planned her escape for more than two years. She grabbed a deactivated cellphone found in the house and fled through a window before she called police.
The bold getaway led to the discovery of her siblings and uncovered one of the “worst, most aggravated child abuse cases I have ever seen,” Hestrin said.
David and Louise Turpin each pleaded guilty to 14 charges including torture, adult abuse, child endangerment and false imprisonment and more. They face 25 years to life in prison.