Turpin case

Turpin case
Mugshot of David Allen Turpin.jpg Mugshot of Louise Anna Turpin.jpg
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 Anna Turpin
ChargesTorture, false imprisonment, abuse of a dependent adult, child abuse
Sentence25 years to life

The Turpin case concerned the maltreatment of children under the care of David and Louise Turpin of Perris, California, United States. The ages of the thirteen victims ranged from two years old to 29. On January 14, 2018, 17-year-old Jordan Turpin escaped from the Turpin residence and contacted local police, who then raided the house and found disturbing evidence of prolonged child abuse and horrendous living conditions. Given the number of dependents involved, 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 Turpin parents pleaded guilty on fourteen felony counts, including cruelty to a dependent adult, child cruelty, torture and false imprisonment.[1] In April that year, they were sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 25 years.[2]


David Allen Turpin (born October 17, 1961) used to be a computer engineer who graduated from Virginia Tech[3] and had worked for Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.[4][5] He met his wife, Louise Anna Turpin (née Robinette, born May 24, 1968)[6] at Princeton High School in Princeton, West Virginia.[7] The couple married in Pearisburg, Virginia, in 1985, when David was 23 and Louise was 16.[8]

The Turpins are Pentecostal Christians who adhered to the teachings of the Quiverfull movement.[9][5] As part of their Quiverfull beliefs the couple had numerous children because "God called on them" to do so.[5][7] They produced ten daughters and three sons between 1988 and 2015. Despite their socially conservative beliefs, the couple engaged in swinging.[10][11]

The Turpin family lived in Fort Worth, Texas, until 1999, when they moved to the neighboring city of Rio Vista. In 2007, the Turpin parents moved ten 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] Jordan Turpin, who was six years old 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 inside the house, 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.[7]

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 "DLand" 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

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 9-1-1 on a cell phone she had brought with her.[21][22] In the 9-1-1 call, she told the dispatcher that she and her siblings were being abused by their parents and that conditions were so bad sometimes she could barely breathe.[20] When the first police officer arrived, Jordan showed them photos of conditions inside the house.[22]

Deputies of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department raided[22] the house, stating they were there for a "welfare check".[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 a house reeking of human excrement, decaying garbage, dead pets, and molding food, with every surface covered in trash. Later, they found the other twelve 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

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.[6] The older children appeared much younger because of malnourishment; the 29-year-old weighed just 82 pounds (37 kg).[8] The 11-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, for example being unfamiliar with what medicine and police were.[28]

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.[29]

Legal proceedings

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.[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]

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.[35] 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.[2]

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.[36][37][38]


All the children spent several weeks in hospitals, after which the six minors were put into two foster homes.[39] Doctors treated various issues, including heart damage due to lack of nutrients, cognitive impairments, and neuropathy.[20]

Five of the younger children were housed in foster care with a family where abuse allegedly took place. In October 2019, they were adopted by that family while the abuse was occurring. The foster family was arrested and charged with abusing multiple children in their care, including at least one Turpin child.[40]

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."[41] One had graduated from college.[41]

An investigation for the ABC newsmagazine 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 may use the hundreds of thousands of dollars donated to them.[42] The money was placed in a trust controlled by a court-appointed public guardian. Joshua Turpin stated he could not access funds and was denied the purchase of a bicycle.[43] 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 get food and healthcare. According to the report, Riverside County has hired a private law firm to investigate allegations of abuse by social services.[43]

See also


  1. ^ "Turpin captivity case: California parents admit torture". BBC News. February 22, 2019. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  2. ^ a b 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.
  3. ^ Bernstein, Sharon; Kenning, Chris (January 17, 2018). "California parents accused of starving, shackling children tried to seem normal". Reuters.
  4. ^ Amy Taxin (February 22, 2019). "California parents of 13 plead guilty to torture, abuse". Kmph.com. Retrieved April 20, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c Powell, Amy (January 16, 2018). "Grandparents say 'God called' on Perris couple to have so many children". KABC. Perris. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  6. ^ 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". NBC News. Perris. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  7. ^ 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. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  8. ^ a b 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.
  9. ^ Carly Sitzer. "Quiverfull: More Children For God's Army". In Touch Weekly. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  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. "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".
  14. ^ 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.
  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. ^ "Turpins' 7 adult children never received education, prosecutor alleges". Press Enterprise. May 18, 2018.
  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". Express.co.uk.
  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. ^ "Horrific new details emerge in case of 13 captive siblings". ABC News. January 18, 2018. 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. "'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 January 18, 2018.[permanent dead link]
  27. ^ Kelman, Brett (January 19, 2018). "Hundreds of journals found in home with 13 captive children". The Desert Sun. USA Today. 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. ^ "House of Horrors: Neighbours claim parents said their goodbyes before arrest". NZ Herald. Retrieved November 20, 2021.
  31. ^ 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.
  32. ^ 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)
  33. ^ 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.
  34. ^ Ellis, Ralph (May 5, 2018). "David Turpin charged with 8 counts of perjury". CNN. Retrieved May 5, 2018.
  35. ^ 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.
  36. ^ "CDCR Public Inmate Locator Disclaimer".
  37. ^ "Mule Creek State Prison".
  38. ^ McNaughtan, David. "Mule Creek is home to some of California's most notorious felons". Ledger Dispatch.
  39. ^ "David and Louise Turpin face new charges in captivity case". CBS News. February 23, 2018. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
  40. ^ 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.
  41. ^ a b "The Turpin Kids Are 'Happy' and Building New Lives 2 Years After Escaping 'House of Horrors'". April 8, 2020.
  42. ^ "Turpin children still 'living in squalor' 4 years after 'house of horrors' rescue, despite donations". ABC News. November 19, 2021.
  43. ^ a b "Abused Turpin kids now 'betrayed' by social services system". news.yahoo.com.

Further reading

  • 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


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