This is the heartbreaking story of the Turpin family of Perris California. The media dubbed the family's home the "House of Horrors" as what was discovered in their home, which included 13 children, was shocking. This was one of the more difficult cases I've done, but it gave me this opportunity to bring awareness and discussion to an important issue that continues to be prevalent in homes and in families today.
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Transcribed Episode / EP09: "Behind Closed Doors" The Turpin Family
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[911 Call from Jordan Turpin]
911 - state your emergency
Yes I'm here, I'm still here.
What's your name?
Jordan Turpin. Okay I live in a family of 15 people, and my parents are abusive, they abuse us, and my two little sisters right now are chained up. There's 13 kids, and then a mother and father.
And how many siblings are tied up?
Two of my sisters, one of my brothers.
[Intro Music Begins]
Nearly 700,000 children are abused in the U.S each year. An estimated 678,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect in 2018. 92% of children are abused or victimized by a parent. But no one knows the actual number of children that are abused as cases are likely underreported or not reported at all.
Although we hear about child abuse in media, we have celebrities talking about it, we have advocacies for it, it’s still something that never goes away. This episode is titled “Behind Closed Doors” because as the Turpin household will show, most abuse happens behind closed doors, behind the secret walls of a home, where no one can see and no one knows what really goes on.
There are so many different faces of child abuse, and the signs are usually subtle...we need to continue to educate and inform the public of what abuse looks like, sounds like, and feels like, so that those walls can begin to be broken down and that children like the Turpin children, can have hope and live their lives free of fear and free from abuse.
[Intro Music Ends]
Often times, abuse begets abuse. For Louise Robinette, the household she grew up in was not a happy one.
Raised in a religious household with her father Wayne making a living as a preacher, Louise was viewed as the “good girl” growing up, one who never smoked, drank or did drugs. Living with her two sisters, Teresa and Elizabeth, the girls would often have to endure arguments between their parents, often covering their ears when their parents, Phyllis and Wayne, would fight. But constant fighting among the parents wasn’t the only abuse the children were subjected to.
According to Teresa, Louise’s sister, she shockingly recounted memories of her childhood when their mother Phyllis would regularly “sell” the two girls to a wealthy pedophile who would routinely abuse them. When the girls would beg their mother not to take them to the man, their mother would tell them that “I have to clothe and feed you.” Teresa said that the man would slip money into her hand as he molested her. She would recall that she could feel his breath on her neck as he would whisper to her to “be quiet.”
Louise’s older sister, Elizabeth Flores, would go on to publish a book titled “Sisters of Secrets” where she would corroborate her sister Teresa’s claims of sexual abuse, but also claimed that her sister Louise began to practice witchcraft as an adult, that she was a habitual gambler, and that she was obsessed with snakes and abused alcohol. When Louise reached her 40’s, her sister claimed that she was dressing and acting vulgar on MySpace and into sex practices.
Louise herself has claimed, via her attorney, that she suffers from histrionic personality disorder. Those that suffer from this disorder usually have intense, unstable emotions and distorted self-images. Their self-esteem depends on the approval of others and they tend to have an overwhelming desire to be noticed, often behave dramatically or inappropriately, even sexually or seductively to get attention.
David Turpin grew up in Mercer County, West Virginia. His parents, James and Betty Turpin had ensured that their children grew up well educated. David attended the same high school at Louise Robinette, although he was eight years her senior. According to his high school’s 1979 yearbook, David is listed as a member of the Bible Club, Chess Club, Science Club and the A cappella Choir. David seemed to be a studious and busy teenager who, according to friends from his high school, was kind of a nerdy homebody. After high school, David enrolled in Virginia Tech University to study computer engineering. He ultimately landed a job at General Dynamics, an aerospace company whose Fort Worth Texas division - which manufactured the F16 Fighting Falcon - was sold to Lockheed Martin Corporation in 1993.
Louise Robinette met David Turpin when she was just a teenager and they began a courtship, unbeknownst to Louise’s father Wayne. However, Phyllis Robinette, Louise’s mother, approved of this courtship - mainly because David came from a christian family, and she trusted Louise.
When David was 24 years old and Louise was just 16, David had convinced her Princeton, West Virginia high school to let him sign Louise out for the day and the two drove all the way to Texas to secretly elope before Louise’s mother Phyllis and her husband Wayne complained to the police and forced the couple to return home. Louise’s father wasn’t upset that they left to elope, he believed that they should allow their 16 year old daughter to live the life she wanted - he was more upset that they left without having a proper wedding ceremony! So David and Louise came home to Princeton, and ultimately got married in a small intimate church wedding with just their two families, in 1984.
After their small wedding, David and Louise headed back to Texas to begin their lives together. David Turpin decided early on that they would have multiple children - they both held the belief that having many children was God’s will, that they were a blessing. Just five years later they had their first child, which would be one of 13 children that they would go on to have...a total of 10 girls and 3 boys.
In the 1990’s the Turpins moved to a home near Fort Worth Texas and according to neighbors, they rarely interacted with anyone. By that time, they had an 18 month old daughter named Jennifer and David was earning a six-figure salary as a Defense Contractor with General Dynamics.
After moving to Fort Worth, Louise invited her mother and siblings to visit. This would become annual visits to the Turpin household that her family would make over the next several years - with Louise and David fronting the bill for their airfare and travel.
After they had Jennifer, Josh was born in 1992, and in 1993 Louise greeted her family at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport pregnant with her third child, Jessica.
When Jennifer turned eight years old, she would finally start the first grade, two years behind schedule. But the frail and pale looking girl was bullied by her classmates. She was not only a couple years older than her peers, but she had poor personal hygiene which would cause her classmates to hold their noses when she’d pass by. She would wear the same clothes to school each day and her long greasy brown hair was never brushed.
Two years later, in 1995, Louise gave birth to her fourth child Jonathan and in 1997 to a fifth child, a daughter, Joy. Three months following Joy’s birth, Jennifer started the second grade at Meadowcreek Elementary School. Her hygiene was still an issue, and had even gotten worse. A classmate of Jennifer’s, Jessica Bermejo, recalled that “She smelled just like dirty clothes and urine.” Jennifer was also exhibiting odd and sometimes disturbing behavior in her classrooms. Another classmate, Jared Dana, recalls a teacher sending Jennifer to the principal’s office for rubbing her pubic area, but no investigation was ever done into the Turpin household.
As the years kept rolling on, the children kept coming as well, and in 1998, Louise gave birth to her sixth child, Julianne.
The following spring, Jennifer stopped attending Meadowcreek Elementary. This would be the last time she would attend public school as David Turpin had decided to home-school his children.
In 1999, Jeanetta was born, their seventh child. Louise and David would send photographs of their children to family members, the children always smiling and well dressed in matching outfits, their lives seemingly picture perfect.
In June of 2001 sheriff’s deputies made a visit to the Turpin home after a 4 year old child was bit by a border collie. It’s one of the two times that police officers ever interacted with the family. The family was once again visited by deputies in February 2003, after the Turpin’s pigs got loose and ate 55 pounds of dog food that belonged to a neighbor.
Following Jeanetta, the Turpins would go on to have six more children, including Jordan, Jolinda, and in 2006 Julissa. Three of the children’s names could not be located.
In 2010, David left his job at General Dynamics and began working for Northrop Grumman. Northrop advised David that they would be relocating to California, so in June of 2010 David and Louise packed up their family and moved to a two story, six bedroom home in Murrieta California. Again, according to neighbors, they rarely interacted with any of the residents of the neighborhood. The neighbors who worked night shifts would often catch the children in the 2nd story of the Turpin home, marching back and forth at odd hours in the middle of the night.
At some point during this time, one of the Turpin’s older sons enrolled in classes at Mount San Jacinto Community College. Louise, apparently not entrusting her son with any type of freedom, would escort him to his classes and wait outside to bring him home once class was over.
One place David and Louise loved to visit was Las Vegas. In October of 2011, they decided to renew their wedding vows in a Las Vegas chapel, accompanied by all of their children who they had dressed alike and who had similar haircuts.
David and Louise were also obsessed with anything related to Disney. Mickey and Minnie Mouse statues adorned their unkept backyard, and two of their four vehicles had Disney license plates and contained a pink Disney car seat. The Turpins would splurge and take their children on rare trips to Disneyland. The children are seen in photos again, dressed in matching outfits and having similar haircuts.
It was clear that David and Louise Turpin’s lives were not as perfect as they seemed on the outside. In 2011 David and Louise filed for bankruptcy, claiming $240,000 in credit card debt. The bankruptcy listed his income as an engineer at Northrup Grumman, making $140,000 a year. He was also listed as being the principal of the “Sandscale Day School” - a home school for his 13 children which was operated out of the Turpin’s Home. Louise was listed as a “homemaker.” Louise never obtained a job, but apparently assisted David in the homeschooling of their children.
As time went on, Louise’s family would visit her and her children less and less. In 2012 Louise’s father retired and when he asked her if he could come out to Texas to visit, Louise told him not to.
In 2014 the family moved to their last home - a single-story, four-bedroom, three-bathroom home in Perris California. Perris California is a suburb of Los Angeles and Riverside Counties and lies roughly about 70 miles southeast of the city of Los Angeles.
Once again, to the neighbors in their new Perris neighborhood, the Turpin children were rarely seen.
In 2015, David and Louise decided it would be a good time to once again renew their vows. As the family readied themselves for the big event, the girls donned the same outfits - red checkered dresses that reached about mid calf length complimented by white tights and the same white heels or flat shoes for the younger girls. The boys donned black or navy suits - some too short for their frame, their hairstyles matching that of their father’s in sort of a longer Beatles-style or bowl-style hairdo.
The Elvis Impersonator wedding ceremony aficionado sings and dances all the while the Turpin parents and children amusingly look on, slightly moving to the beat and snapping their fingers awkwardly, as if unsure if that’s the right thing to do. It’s obvious they are uncomfortable in the moment, unsure of how “far” they can go to actually enjoy themselves. It’s honestly one of the most awkward videos of a wedding ceremony you will probably ever witness:
[Excerpt of 2015 Vegas Wedding Ceremony]
Fantastic Mom and Dad, this is great, I, I it is a pleasure, [clapping] yeah yeah...we are family, come over to the house later. I only have 12 rooms though so, we'll share.
Today, tomorrow and forever, your love has truly grown. You love each other more today, which means tomorrow morning you'll wake up still married, but loving each other more than, then today. It is Halloween day, the year 2015, by the power that's vested in me, by the suit that I wear today, yes. David and Luise I announce to the world that the two of you are, have been for 30 years, and the two of you still will be, husband and wife, together forever. David, you may now kiss your beautiful wife! Yeah! [camera clicking]
It's a beautiful song, it's from the 1950's, and would the children please join me down in front...
[Elvis Impersonator Singing]
Yeah! Oh Yeah! Uh huh, won't you wear my ring, around your neck to tell the world I'm yours by heck...
The Elvis impersonator was asked to recall that particular ceremony and had this to say about the Turpin children:
[Excerpt of Elvis Impersonator Describing Turpin Children]
The way the kids looked physically, uh, thin but not, not excessively thin. I thought they were very active as a family. I didn't think they didn't eat, or there was punishment or anything like that. They were quiet but yet they were well behaved. They didn't seem like they were, ya know, if they acted out of line, they were just well behaved, they smiled a lot. It's hard to believe that the people that I performed for and entertained and sat and talked before and after entertaining them, that this could happen. It's just, it's disturbing, it really is.
In February of 2016, Louise’s mother Phyllis passed away without having seen her daughter and her family for years. Louise’s father died three months later. Louise did not attend either of their funerals, David, however, did attend both of them.
To the outside world, photos of the Turpin family, including those sent to family members and displayed on social media, showed a seemingly perfect and happy family with 13 smiling children, who went on exciting trips to Vegas and Disneyland.
Although the Turpins prohibited their children from viewing or having social media accounts, one of their daughters, 17 year old Jordan Turpin, found a way to maintain and post videos on YouTube under the pseudonym “Lacey Swan.” Jordan seemed to flourish in her videos, posting random videos of her dogs playing with a ball, or videos of her singing. The videos brought out the confidence in Jordan. She would make an effort to look her best in her videos, either wearing cute hats or tying colorful ribbons or hairpieces in her hair, and wearing red lipstick.
Here’s an excerpt from Jordan singing on her now deactivated Youtube channel:
[Youtube Video of Jordan Turpin Singing]
(Unintelligible) It’s me Lacey Swan, this is a song I wrote “It’s Over.”
[Singing] I was wrong, it was never meant to be. We seemed so close but we were so far. We didn’t even know…(unintelligible)...but it’s over, it’s over, it’s over...
What you don’t see in Jordan’s videos, was the horrible secret that her family was hiding. As perfect as they may have seemed on the outside to both family and strangers that they encountered, what was going on inside the walls of the Turpin home was anything but perfect...and 17 year old Jordan was about to reveal that truth to the entire world.
It had taken two years for Jordan to find the courage that she knew she had inside of her to devise a plan. She knew what was going on inside of her home was wrong. She knew it was bad, but she had been conditioned to believe that if she, or any one of her siblings, attempted to reach out to anyone for help, that something bad would happen to one or all of them.
But all of that changed on January 14th 2018. Jordan Turpin was ready - she knew she had to find the right time, a perfect time, to escape from her home and make that call.
It was close to 6am and a chilly 53 degrees Fahrenheit the morning that Jordan and another one of her sisters bravely jumped out of their bedroom window of their Perris California home, one just minutes after the other. Jordan’s sister, who had rarely even been outside of her own home and never walked around the neighborhood, didn’t recognize where she was, got lost, became scared, and ended up running back home. Jordan, however, knew this was her only chance to save herself and her siblings. She didn’t turn back - she didn’t run back home - but instead, she used her brother’s deactivated cell phone to make a call to the only number it would allow her to dial...911:
[911 call from Jordan Turpin]
911 - state your emergency
Yes I'm here, I'm still here.
What's your name?
Jordan Turpin. Okay I live in a family of 15 people, and my parents are abusive, they abuse us, and my two little sisters right now are chained up.
How are they tied up with rope or with what?
With chains, they’re chained up to their beds. I’ve never been out, I don’t go out much. I don’t know anything about the streets or anything.
Do you think anybody in the house will need to go to the hospital?
I’m not sure. Sometimes...we live in filth, and sometimes I wake up and I can’t breathe because how dirty the house is.
When was the last time you had a bath?
I don’t know, almost a year ago. Sometimes I feel so dirty, I wash my face and I wash my hair.
Does anybody at the house take any kind of medication?
I don’t know what medication is.
Are you homeschooled?
No we don’t do school. Our mother tells people we’re home schooled. Our mother tells people we’re private schooled and she has a fake private school set up. But we don’t really do school. I haven’t finished first grade and I’m 17. I don’t know much about my mother, she doesn’t like us, she doesn’t spend time with us ever.
Is that the deputy?
Go talk to him okay.
As Jordan was not familiar with her street or neighborhood, she struggled to direct authorities to where her house was located. After 20 minutes on the phone with 911, a deputy officer was able to find Jordan and be directed to her home. It was then that the police officers entered the Turpin home and encountered what was soon to become described as the “House of Horrors.”
As officers entered the one story, four bedroom, dark and foul smelling home, they were greeted by Louise Turpin, who appeared confused as to why the police were there.
The condition of the house was atrocious. There were many children in the home, aged from 2 years old to 29 years old, and authorities discovered a 22-year-old son chained to a bed and two girls who had just been set free from shackles. Many of the children told the police that they were starving.
On that same day, David and Louise Turpin were arrested on suspicion of child abuse and torture. Their six younger children were transported to Riverside University Medical Center in Moreno Valley and their seven adult siblings were taken to Corona Regional Medical Center for immediate care.
Upon their arrest, news of the horrid reality of the Turpin household began to come to light.
Their house itself was filthy and had the stench of human waste permeating the air, with piles of junk, soiled underwear, boxes of diapers piled up alongside a baby jumper and a play gym, and random items scattered throughout. But a dirty house was not unusual for the Turpins. They had a history of neglecting their past homes in Texas. A couple who purchased their Fort Worth home said that the carpets were caked in filth and that there were scratch marks on the doors. They thought the scratches were at first from animals, but when they heard of the Turpin’s arrest, they thought they could have been from other sources related to the treatment of the children.
In another home in Rio Vista, near Fort Worth Texas, that they had lived in until 2010 and lost during a foreclosure, a neighbor would refer to the home as “the compound.” The current owner of the home discovered strange vents in the closets of the main bedroom which she feared may have been used to direct the flow of oxygen to children that were kept locked possibly in the closets. The owner knew the Turpins. She said they appeared to be friendly, she knew they homeschooled their children but didn’t like them to be around anyone, although they did allow the children to play with her kids. When she asked one of the children their names, they told her that they weren’t allowed to say. After that encounter, the Turpin children weren’t allowed to play with her kids anymore.
But it wasn’t their lack of housekeeping that was the problem...as their children were cared for in medical facilities following the arrest of their parents, their statements to investigators revealed something far more shocking.
According to investigators, the systematic abuse in the Turpin household had been going on - unbeknownst to family or to anyone outside of the house - for at least 8 years.
The abuse began with slapping, hitting and throwing the children around the room - it then progressed to belts. At the onset, Louise and David would whip the children with the leather end of David’s belt, using the metal buckle if they continued to misbehave. They then moved on to using a wooden paddle or an oar.
The Turpins had said that they home-schooled their children, but their private “Sandcastle Day School” was in fact not a functioning school, but was “a sham, a way for them to get money from the county and the state.” In reality, the children hadn’t been home schooled in years, and many of the children could barely read or write. Jennifer, the oldest sibling who only had a third-grade public school education, would teach her younger siblings as much as possible, but many years later, some of them still hadn’t been able to get past the first half of the alphabet.
The children were so malnourished that the police thought that a 17 year old girl was only 10, and thought that one of the girls was a teenager but she was actually 29 years old. The children and young adults lacked so many nutrients in their diet, that their muscle growth had stagnated. The 29 year old weighed a mere 82 pounds. There were in fact SEVEN adults among the group - ranging in ages from 18 to 29. Several of the children and young adults suffered from cognitive impairment and neuropathy (a disease or dysfunction which effects the peripheral nerves and can cause numbness or weakness) as a result of the extreme prolonged physical abuse.
The physical abuse of the children led to muscle wasting and ultimately left two of the girls unable to bear children. An 11 year old daughter had the arms the size of an infant.
The youngest child, who was 2 years old at the time the Turpins were arrested, was apparently spared from any physical abuse.
The Turpin children were often beaten, strangled or tied up for weeks or even months at a time by their parents. They were only allowed to shower once a year - Jordan Turpin would recollect in her 911 call that sometimes she couldn’t stand it so she would wash her face and hair.
What originally started out as the Turpin children having three meals a day, turned into one meal a day (a combination of lunch and dinner) which consisted of a meal of two slices of bread with either peanut butter or bologna. To this day, many of the children won’t even look at peanut butter or bologna. When they’re at the grocery store, they can't go down the peanut butter aisle as it brings up the horrible memories of their abuse.
Their parents would often taunt them with pies and other food they were forbidden to eat. If they stole food or did anything that their parents deemed punishable, they would be tied up or hogtied with rope...and when the rope failed, they would then be shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks, or put into a cage. Everything had locks on it, the closets, the cabinets, the refrigerator.
David and Louise would often chain their children to their beds for months on end, forcing them to stay in their rooms for almost 20 hours a day. Feces littered the carpet as the parents would sometimes not allow their children to use the bathrooms. The children’s fair skin is indicative of them rarely being allowed to go outside. They were allowed outside during Halloween and when the family would take trips to Disneyland and Las Vegas for David and Louise to renew their vows.
They didn’t allow the children to have social media accounts, with the known exception of Jordan Turpin’s YouTube channel. Whether or not her parents had knowledge of her account is unknown. The children were also not allowed to go outside without the parents or without their permission. The children would normally sleep throughout the day and be active for a few hours at night.
They weren't allowed to play like normal children and were deprived of things other kids take for granted, including toys and games. They were, however, allowed to keep and write in journals. Those journals detailed their every-day lives and were ultimately confiscated and used as evidence against their parents.
Beatings in the household were a common occurrence, and Jordan Turpin would report to the courts that there was an incident where her mother nearly choked her to death after she caught her watching a Justin Bieber video. Her mother told her “do you want to die? Yes you do, you want to die. You want to die and go to hell.”
Jordan had also told authorities that she was sexually abused by her father. She recalled a time in the TV room upstairs, when they lived in Murrieta, when her father called her over to him, pulled her pants down, and put her on his lap. Jordan told her father that “she didn’t like that stuff” but he continued. Louise Turpin began walking up the stairs, disturbing them, and caused Jordan to quickly jump off of her father’s lap, and pull up her pants. Her father then told her that she’d “better not tell anybody what happened.”
As far as medical care goes, on the 911 call to authorities, Jordan stated that she didn’t know what medicine was...it’s been reported that the children had not in fact seen a doctor in more than four years, and none of them had ever visited a dentist. As the parents were not required to provide testimony in court, we don’t know their reasoning behind this lack of care. It could’ve been due to a lack or shortage of money, it could’ve been that the parents were afraid someone would see their children’s condition and report them to child services, or it could’ve been a belief that the children did not need or require outside care.
Mike Hestrin, the Riverside County District Attorney had stated that, “This is among the worst, most aggravated child abuse cases I have ever seen.”
It’s not clear what finally gave Jordan Turpin enough courage to escape and make that 911 call. Psychiatrists say that that behavior is not uncommon in cases of extreme deprivation. A situation such as the environment that the Turpin family harbored, could cause paralysis, insecurity and confusion about what to do. Jordan had planned her escape for nearly two years - probably having many missed chances at escaping and overcoming a fear of what would happen if she were caught.
Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Kevin Beecham said that prior to Jordan’s 911 call, the kids devised a plan to get a taxi ride to Las Vegas, a place that they were all too familiar with.
He said that “They called this taxi cab company and they’re like, ‘Okay, where do you want to go?’ They’re like, ‘We want to go to Vegas.’ ‘Okay, where are you? ‘We’re in Perris California.’ ‘Okay, but where in Perris and where in Vegas do you want to go?’ And that’s kind of where it stopped.”
He stated that “They didn’t trust anybody.” That “they were afraid that whoever they called would just bring it right back to the parents, and then they would just get chained up for the rest of their lives.”
David and Louise Turpin initially plead not guilty to more than 40 charges, including torture, false imprisonment, abuse of a dependent adult and child abuse. David Turpin also plead not guilty to one count of lewd acts on a child under 14 years old, and Louise had been charged with assault resulting in great bodily injury. A judge set bail at $12 million for each defendant.
Just a little over a year later, on February 22, 2019, in order to spare their children from having to testify in court, David and Louise changed their plea and plead guilty to one count of torture, four counts of false imprisonment, six counts of cruelty to a dependent adult and three counts of willful child cruelty.
In April 19, 2019 Judge Bernard Schwartz sentenced them both to 25 years to life. They have the option of parole after they serve 25 years. They are not allowed to have personal contact with their children, in person, by mail, by phone through third parties or even through social media. 10 of the children have 10-year restraining orders in place. Two have 5-year restraining orders and one has had the restraining order dropped.
During the sentencing hearing, the Turpin children had the opportunity to speak to their parents and to the court. The children were not identified to the court by name, and were accompanied by a comfort dog. While they spoke to the court, their parent’s listened, often wiping away tears. It’s both heartbreaking and uplifting to listen to them as you realize that the years of abuse they have endured have not broken their spirits and strong will to go on with their lives:
[Statements of Turpin Children in Court]
My parents took my whole life from me, but now i’m taking my life back. I’m in college now and living independently. 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 that I am. I saw my dad change my mom, they almost changed me. But I realized what was happening. I immediately did what I could to not become like that. I’m a fighter, I’m strong, and I’m shooting through life like a rocket.
[Janet Latourette for Joy]
Um, my name is Janet Latourette, J a n e t, L a t o u r e t t e. This note is from Joy. I want the court to know that our parents loved each other and loved each of their children. People in Texas, even friends, said our parents were having too many children. Our parents didn’t agree. They felt that God blessed them with all of their children. So they kept away from the world and trusted God would guide them through life. Through the years things became more and more overwhelming but they kept trusting in God. I remember our mother sitting in her recliner and crying saying “she don't know what to do.” She didn’t want to use rope or chain, but she was afraid her children were taking in too much sugar and caffeine. The reason our parents didn’t stop buying the soda was because father needed it for work. He would fall asleep driving and got in an accident. They didn’t know what else to do. I believe our parents feared that if they asked for help they would lose their children. Our parents didn’t know we were malnourished. They thought we all got the gene from our mother because she was so small. I remember mother saying “God has blessed us with healthy children.” Our parents would get us pizza and Mexican food every other week and sometimes more than once a week. Our mother would always tell us to let her know if we are still hungry and she will give us more. Their first child went to a public school, they started noticing she wasn’t really learning much so mother started teaching her at home and saw a big difference. Our parents decided to start homeschooling all their children. It worked out good at first, but through the years it became very overwhelming. I believe our parents were afraid to put us in public school for many reasons, they felt that God put it on their hearts to home school. When we came to California people treated us so much better, and people started telling us our family was a blessing. Our parents finally felt safe to start taking us out as a family. Every year from as far back as I can remember, our parents tried to give us the nicest Christmas they could. They would get us what we wanted, even if they couldn’t afford it. They always tried to keep up with our birthdays every year too. Closer to the end, things became more overwhelming again. I truly believe most of this was because our mother lost both of her parents in 2016. I feel like 25 years is too long. I believe with all my heart that our parents tried their best to raise all 13 of us and they wanted to give us a good life. They believed everything they did was to protect us. If at all possible I would really appreciate if the courts would place our parents as close to the detention center they are in right now so if we ever want to visit them we can. Also I want the two year restraining order lifted and I want to be allowed to talk to both my parents by phone. Thank you for hearing my statement.
Good morning Your Honor, my name is Joshua and I will be reading two statements today. Um, i will be starting with Jessica’s statement.
[Judge Bernard Schwartz]
And that’s your sister?
I love both of my parents so much. Although it may not have been the best way of raising us, I’m glad that they did because it made me the person I am today. I just want to thank them for teaching me about God and faith. I hope that they never lose their faith. God looks at the heart and I, and I know He sees theirs. I pray often for them. I am doing well, I’m going to college full time, I have an apartment, and I’m able to transport myself independently by bus, bike or walking. We are not supposed to necessarily understand God’s will, but we are only to follow and to trust in Him. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than yours and my thoughts than your thoughts, said the Lord. Isaiah 55:9. Never lose faith. You are one of his sheep and he is constantly watching over his flock. Sorry. I love you and I wanted you to know. P.S. God is ALL we need.
The next statement I will read is my own.
I cannot describe in words what we went through growing up. Sometimes I still have nightmares of things that have happened, such as my siblings being chained up or getting beaten, but that is the past and this is now. I love my parents and have forgiven them for a lot of the things that they did to us. Since January I have learned so much and become very independent. In June of last year I learned how to ride a bike and ever since then I’ve been hooked and ride it everywhere, such as to school, store, or sometimes I just go on long rides because I enjoy it so much. I live in an apartment and go to a nearby college. I’m getting a bachelor's degree in software engineering, and after I get my bachelors degree I’m going to get a job as a software engineer and go to school part time to get my masters degree. I also have learned how to advocate for myself, how to swim, how to eat healthy and prepare a balanced meal. I’ve also been learning how to manage money wisely.
Thank you Your Honor.
In turn, both Louise and David had an opportunity to give statements to the court:
[Judge Bernard Schwartz]
Alright then Ms. Webb, on behalf of Mr. Turpin is there anyone that wants to speak on his behalf or does Mr. Turpin wish to address the court?
[Allison Webb: David Turpin’s Attorney]
Mr. Turpin wishes to address the court Your Honor.
[Statements from David & Louis Turpin in Court]
Your Honor, I’ma I’ma going to ask my attorney to read my statement for me.
Your Honor I thank God for all of my children. Each one of them is a blessing from God. My homeschooling and discipline had good intentions. I never intended for any harm to come to my children. I'm sorry if I've done anything to cause them harm. I'm glad we were able to resolve this case without my children being forced to testify. I love my children and I believe my children love me. I hope and pray that my children can stay close to each other and look out for each other since their mother and father cannot be there for them and with them. I hope the very best for my children in the future. I hope my oldest son successfully completes the two college degrees he’s working on.
I’m sorry, I needed to modify that part of the statement. I hope my, I hope my oldest son and four daughters currently in college successfully complete the degrees they are working on, and I hope they are successful in their chosen professions. I wish my second son success in finalizing his career plans and completing whatever additional education may be required.
I wish happiness and success for my other children as they complete their lower level education and make productive plans for their future. I am so proud of each and every one of my children. I miss all of my children and I will be praying for them. I long for the opportunity to have contact with them again.
[Jeff Moore: Louise Turpin’s Attorney]
Yes, we do have a statement from Ms Turpin, just one moment.
I want to say to you Your Honor and the Court, I'm sorry for everything I've done to hurt my children. I love my children so much... I’m blessed to be the mother of each one of them. I only want the best for them, their happiness is very important to me. They are very smart, amazing individuals. I hope they all, I hope they get all the education they need to make their dreams come true, they deserve only the best in life. I don’t want any of them to be sad or depressed because of all of this. I want them to know that mom and dad are going to be okay. I also want them to know that I believe God has a special plan for each of them. I really look forward to the day that I can see them, hug them, and tell them I’m sorry. I want them to know how special they are, and how very proud I am of them. I pray for my children every day. I want to say again, how truly sorry I am for everything I’ve done to hurt them, I love them more than they could ever imagine. Thank you Your Honor.
After giving his sentence, Judge Bernard Schwartz was compelled to give this strong message to David and Louise Turpin:
[Statement from Judge Bernard Schwartz to David and Louise Turpin]
[Judge Bernard Schwartz]
When I, um, received this case some time ago and as the case continued in my court up until today’s date, there was one consistent theme that goes through my mind, that was referenced earlier by one of the Turpin children, and that is that children are indeed a gift. They are a gift to their parents, they are a gift to their family, to their friends, they are a gift to society.
Um, they are a gift to their parents in the sense that the parent should be joyful of firsts in their child’s life. First day of school, first date, first graduation, first job, marriage. All of those things should be enjoyed by the parent and child alike. They are also a gift to society. A gift to society because you don’t know what a child is going to do when they (unintelligible) seek their occupation, maybe they’ll become scientists and discover a cure for some disease, or maybe be a doctor or a first responder and save someone’s life. Maybe they’ll enter the military and protect our country, or maybe they'll just otherwise just become a good citizen who makes the world a better place.
The selfish, cruel and inhuman treatment of your own children has deprived them, your family, your friends and society – and especially both of you – of those gifts.
Their lives have been permanently altered in their ability to learn, grow and thrive. You have delayed their mental, physical and emotional development. To the extent that they do thrive, and it appears from today that perhaps a couple of them are, it will be not because of you both, but in spite of you both.
You have severed the ability to interact and raise your children - you have created (unintelligible) to this world. The only reason that your punishment is less than the maximum time in my opinion, is because you accepted responsibility as early stage of the proceedings and you spared your children from having to relive the humiliation and the harm they endured in that house of Horrors. So any punishment that is given to you today will pale in comparison to the fact that you will not have an opportunity to spend your years with your children as a normal parent would.
Following their arrest, Louise and David Turpin’s family had spoken out. Louise’s younger 30 year old half-brother Billy Lambert said he was “fooled” by Louise and had no clue what was going on behind closed doors. He hadn’t seen his sister in over 15 years, and that when he would speak to her on the phone, she was very guarded and would end the calls quickly.
Billy had only met six of the children when he was a teenager. His sister is 19 years his senior, so since she was gone and married to David by the age of 16, he would only see her on holidays, if at all. Both Louise and David were very private towards him and his siblings, as well as with his parents. He recalled David has been friendly and kind, not ever raising his voice - so hearing news of their arrest was a complete shock to him.
David’s parents, James and Betty Turpin of West Virginia, seemed to also be in the dark about the horrific dynamics in their son’s household. David’s mother, Betty Turpin, has stated that they were a highly respectable and religious family who would take their family on holidays and dressed them alike purely for safety reasons, and would require their children to memorize Bible scripture. She defended her son and said that they were very protective of the kids, and that when they would go out, they would line the children up according to age, and David and Louise would then go to the front and back of the line so that it was easier to keep up with the kids.
Louise Turpin’s sister Teresa Robinette spoke to Megan Kelly in an interview in January 2018 about her relationship with her sister and about her nieces and nephews:
[Interview with Megyn Kelly and Teresa Robinette]
Theresa, did, did you ever speak to the children by phone?
It’s been a long time, but yes I used to. Um, it’s been close to 7 or 8 years since I’ve even got to video Skype with them, and…
What were they like when you spoke with them?
They were very friendly but it was a very weird conversation every time because they weren’t real talkative. They would come in, when she would let me video Skype with them, It got to where instead of having all of them together like we did years and years ago, it got ot where she would bring in, ya know, one or two or three at at time and then she would send them out and tell them to send in so and so...
Did they seem cognitively ya know, where they out to be, ya know did they seem...?
Oh yeah, I mean, I always even said that, ya know, I think those children are very book smart, but I was worried because they were homeschooled and because they didn’t hold a conversation well, I was always concerned that they weren’t going to be socially developed because she homeschooled them and they....
What do you hope happens now with the children:?
Well Louise no longer exists to me. Her and David are dead to me. I have, ya know, the children, I hope that when they come out of from where they’re at now, our hope is that, they’re all, can lead some sort of normal or happy existence. Happy that’s, obviously, ya know, have never known happy, except maybe the older ones for a little while, but….
My main hope is that I can put my arm around them and just tell them that they have family that loves them that’s not deranged. That this is what it's supposed to be like, ya know. I want them to meet their cousins. My kids. Lousie has never laid eyes on my kids. And you know, I’ve only met in person her oldest four, because the trips stopped, and so I’ve only met the youngest ones through video chat and that was years ago.
So there’s some of them I’ve never even seen except in pictures and they’ve never ever met my kids or my, my other siblings kids
They’re in need of love right now.
They need to know that they have family that loves them.
[Ambient Segment Music Begins]
It’s been two years since the children were rescued from their parent’s home and they all seem to be thriving, and hopeful for their futures. The youngest siblings, having been in the home of their parents for much less time, had suffered less abuse and are expected to rebound quicker, but the older children are trying to put their upbringing behind them. One of the adult children has graduated college and six of the younger children have been adopted. Some of the children even have jobs, volunteer in their communities and attend church.
The children and young adults are enjoying reading a lot of books and using iPads, learning how to swim and how to ride bikes, listening to country music, playing basketball or football, watching movies such as Star Wars and Harry Potter, and doing everything else that people their age are doing.
All thirteen children are in separate homes in Riverside County. Out of the six youngest children, two are now in one foster home in Riverside County, while the other four are at another home in the county. No home was able to accommodate all six children. The seven adults either have their own apartments or are in another home.
They are receiving therapy and counseling and quite a bit of psychological assistance. They still meet with each other - all 13 of them - in a discrete location, and they all talk regularly via Skype.
Many of them have changed their last names to avoid public attention or to be labeled as a victim.
[Ambient Segment Music Ends; Outro Music Begins]
The mental, physical and emotional recovery for the Turpin children will not be an easy one, but we wish them all the best in their futures and the amazing opportunities that lie ahead of them.
Thank you for listening - please check out our website at thecrimeshack.com for the latest episodes and show notes and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram @TheCrimeShackPodcast and on Twitter @TheCrimeShack.
[Outro Music Ends]