The home where a couple was arrested after police discovered that 13 people had been held captive in filthy conditions with some shackled to beds with chains and padlocks. Picture: Getty / Sandy Huffaker.
The home where a couple was arrested after police discovered that 13 people had been held captive in filthy conditions with some shackled to beds with chains and padlocks. Picture: Getty / Sandy Huffaker.

Dad’s bizarre excuse for kids’ torture

The parents responsible for the "house of horrors" have broken down in court as a judge handed down their sentence in court.

It comes as the child victims spoke publicly for the first time about their horrific ordeals in which the 13 siblings were chained to their beds for weeks at a time, starved, abused and tortured by their sadistic parents.

David Turpin, 57, and wife Louise Turpin, 50, appeared on Friday in California's Riverside County Court, in the US for sentencing after pleading guilty in February to 14 charges of torture, adult abuse, child endangerment, false imprisonment and more.

Judge Bernard J. Schwartz handed the couple life sentences with the possibility of parole after 25 years.

"You have severed the ability to interact and raise your children that you have created and brought into this world," he said.

"The selfish, cruel and inhumane treatment has deprived them, family, friends and society, and especially you, (these children as) gifts.

"It will be not because of you both (that they lead fulfilling lives) but in spite of you both."

 

Turpin mother Louise has apologised for hurting her children.
Turpin mother Louise has apologised for hurting her children.

 

Judge Schwartz said the "only reason" the couple's punishment was less than the maximum of life without parole was because they "spared (their) children having to relive the humiliation" by accepting a guilty plea deal.

David and Louise Turpin, sitting just a metre apart and separated only by a lawyer, barely looked at each other.

"I'm sorry for everything I've done to hurt my children," Louise Turpin said in her first address to court since the trial started.

"I want them to know how special they are and how proud I am.

"Their happiness is important to me. I really look forward to the day I can see them, hug them and tell them I'm sorry."

 

David Turpin breaks down in court.
David Turpin breaks down in court.

 

David Turpin told the court he loved his children - whose names all start with the letter J - and never meant to harm them. Through his lawyer, he provided a strange justification for torturing his kids, saying he "had good intentions" with his "home schooling and discipline".

Because of the guilty plea, the siblings were not required to testify at trial, and their parents also avoided taking the stand.

But for some of the Turpin siblings, they wanted their voices to be finally heard, and today took the opportunity to deliver victim impact statements.

For the first time since the couple's arrest last year, two of their eldest children, appeared in court accompanied by supporters and a therapy dog. None of the children had been seen previously at the trial.

The Turpins' eldest child, a 30-year-old woman, was the first to take the stand as her parents watched on in the moments before they learned their fate. She was among seven of the adult children who were so severely stunted by starvation when discovered by authorities they were mistaken for minors.

"My parents took my whole life from me but now I'm taking my life back," she said through tears.

"I believe everything happens for a reason".

The woman said "life may have been bad but it made me strong".

"I'm a fighter, I'm strong and I'm shooting through life like a rocket," she continued.

Louise Turpin cried, her hands shaking and bottom lip trembling, as her daughter spoke. But within minutes of "Jane Doe 4" stepping down from the stand her mother was smiling and laughing in conversation with her lawyer.

 

 

David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, have been sentenced after their 13 children were found imprisoned and emaciated in their California home. Picture: Supplied
David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, have been sentenced after their 13 children were found imprisoned and emaciated in their California home. Picture: Supplied

 

The Turpin family is an example of how happy snaps rarely tell the full story Picture: Supplied
The Turpin family is an example of how happy snaps rarely tell the full story Picture: Supplied

 

 

Next, the eldest Turpin son, 26, delivered an impact statement on behalf of one of his sisters who said she "love(s) both my parents so much".

"Although it may not have been the best way of raising us, I'm glad they did, because it made me the person I am today," he quoted the sister saying.

"I pray often for them."

The man, identified as "John Doe 2" then read his own statement in which he said he couldn't "describe in words what we went through growing up".

"Sometimes I still have nightmares of things that happened such as my siblings being chained up or getting beaten," he said as his voice cracked.

"But that is the past and this is now. I love my parents and have forgiven them."

Last year, the world watched in horror as prosecutors described abuse the Turpin siblings had suffered at the hands of their parents. Twelve of the 13 children, who ranged from age two to 29 when found, were beaten, shackled to their beds, malnourished, denied access to the bathroom and permitted to shower only once a year. Charges against the couple relating to abuse and neglect of their youngest child were dropped due to a lack of evidence.

The court previously heard that the children were often tied up for "weeks or even months at a time". Authorities also said the siblings had been isolated from the outside world and were often denied showers, medical care and food. While the children were mostly kept indoors, they were allowed out for Halloween, and on rare family trips to Disneyland and Las Vegas.

 

David Allen Turpin and Louise Anna Turpin with one of their children. Picture: Supplied
David Allen Turpin and Louise Anna Turpin with one of their children. Picture: Supplied

 

The Turpins appear smiling in many family photos with their children. Picture: Supplied
The Turpins appear smiling in many family photos with their children. Picture: Supplied

 

The Turpins on a family holiday to Disneyland. Picture: Supplied
The Turpins on a family holiday to Disneyland. Picture: Supplied

EVIL LIVED NEXT DOOR

One neighbour, who shares a back fence with the Turpins' former home and spoke on the condition she wasn't named, has lived in her house for about four years. Remarkably, she didn't even know there were children living in the house over the fence until after their parents were arrested and charged with 14 felony counts of abusing and imprisoning 12 of their 13 kids.

It's a revelation that has prompted feelings of intense guilt for some of those who were close to the situation but unaware of it at the time.

"We have had lots of kids' birthday parties for my son who is now seven, and my niece, out the back and never even knew kids lived over there," the woman told news.com.au.

"We didn't see any of them once or hear a single voice or laugh or cry.

"It's devastating to think all of that was going on while we had kids running around, having fun basically outside their back door."

The Turpin family on a rare day out. Picture: Supplied
The Turpin family on a rare day out. Picture: Supplied

 

The woman's back deck, where she and her family spend hours most evenings, is just metres from the back door of the address where the Turpins subjected their children to years of hell.

While she says there were no signs of children, she did notice odd behaviour in the home.

"The lights inside the house were on all night long every night," she said.

"We thought drug dealers must have been living there because we never saw one person in that house or heard a sound from them.

"We found out in the news … I just feel so sorry for those kids.

"We are so sad we were so close to those kids and we did nothing."

The Turpin's house now sits vacant with black tarp on the front windows and overgrown grass out the back. A notice on the front window instructs people to call a contracting service company in the event of "emergency, violation or city ordinance violations". News.com.au understands the home has been sold and is undergoing internal renovations.

 

 

 

David and Louise Anna Turpin with their children. Picture: Supplied
David and Louise Anna Turpin with their children. Picture: Supplied

Outside the court, the children's lawyer Jack Osborn said the seven adult children of the 13-child family were doing well. "They want people to know that they are survivors," he said.

The adult Turpin children, who were so malnourished when discovered that police thought they were minors, now live together.

"The older children are extremely protective of the younger ones. So, when they do have time together, it's a lot of nurturing. There is a lot of reassuring," Mr Osborn said. "And one of the things that they're grateful for is they've got each other."

"They came from a situation that seemed normal to them. And now, they're in a new normal.

"For really the first time they're able to make their own decisions. What they're going to eat … where they're going to go, what they're going to study.

"They're still becoming independent.

"And they'll tell you that it's kind of a lifelong thing."

 

megan.palin@news.com.au | @Megan_Palin


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