David Allen Turpin and Louise Anna Turpin, a California couple, have been sentenced to life in prison after admitting to imprisoning and torturing 12 of their 13 children.
David Turpin (57) and his 50 year-old wife had pleaded guilty to 14 felony counts – including cruelty, false imprisonment, child abuse and torture of their children aged three to 30 – and will serve at least 25 years before they are eligible for parole.
In an emotionally wrenching hearing, several of the children professed continued love for their parents, who lived in the city of Perris, 112 kilometres southeast of Los Angeles.
“I never intended for any harm to come to my children. I’m sorry if I’ve done anything to cause them harm,” David Turpin told the court in the nearby city of Riverside, via a statement read out by his solicitor.
The case came to light last year when one of the children, aged 17, escaped through a window from the couple’s home and called the emergency services.
Both Turpins fought back tears throughout the hearing, with Louise visually trembling as two of her own children came into court.
“My parents took my whole life from me, but now I’m taking my life back,” one of the couple’s daughters said, while a son said he still loved his parents and had forgiven them.
According to excerpts of the initial emergency call released during court proceedings, the escaped girl told the dispatcher two of her siblings were chained to beds so tightly that their skin was bruised.
She struggled to tell the operator her home address, saying: “I’ve never been out. I don’t go out much.”
She told responding officers that the house was so dirty she couldn’t breathe and that she and her siblings never took baths:
They chain us up if we do things we’re not supposed to. Sometimes, my sisters wake up and start crying [because of the pain].
An officer who interviewed the teen after her escape said she was so emaciated that he first thought she was a child.
He said the girl described being forced to sleep 20 hours a day and in the middle of the night eating a combination of lunch and dinner that most often consisted of peanut butter sandwiches, chips and microwaved food.
One of the older children also told investigators that the couple would lock him and his siblings in cages as punishment and beat them with paddles.
Since their rescue, the children have been in the care of child and adult protective services.