In January 2018, a distraught youngster dialed 911. The 17-year-old stated that she had escaped from her parents, leaving 12 siblings imprisoned in their Perris, California home. When police arrived, they discovered a strange and heinous scene: David and Louise Turpin had kept some of their children bound in shackles and chained to the furniture in filthy bedrooms.
All of them were severely malnourished and appeared to be many years younger than their actual ages. The abuse had been going on for decades, with the children ranging in age from 2 to 29. According to reports, the Turpins’ parents treated the family pets better than the children.
David and Louise Turpin are facing life in prison after being charged with multiple counts of torture and child endangerment. The parents pleaded “not guilty” and declined to comment. The children were taken from the Turpins’ custody and placed in rehabilitation hospitals for ongoing treatment and counseling. The details below do not explain why David and Louise Turpin imprisoned their children, but they do shed light on who the Turpins are and what happened to “the Magnificent 13.”
The Turpin family
David Allen Turpin and Louise Anna Turpin married in 1985 when David was 23 and Louise was 16. David was a computer engineer who had worked for Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.
From 1988 to 2015, the couple had 13 children: ten daughters and three sons, and all of their children’s names begin with the letter J. They had as many children as they did because they claimed “God called to them” to do so.
On January 14, 2018, two of the 13 Turpin siblings escaped from the family house by jumping out the window and dialing 911. The younger girl (13 years old) became afraid and turned back, but the 17-year-old moved away and dialed 9-1-1 on a cell phone she had brought with her. When police officers approached her, she showed them images of the inside of the residence.
Because of her small stature, the police initially mistook the malnourished 17-year-old for a 10-year-old. The state of the Turpin residence surprised law enforcement because there had been no prior complaints. Police arrested parents David and Louise Turpin right away and charged them with child torture and endangering a child.
A prosecutor stated that [the girl] worked on the plan with her siblings for more than two years. When the teen fled the house on Sunday, one of her 12 siblings accompanied her, but she became afraid and returned inside.
Despite the fact that seven of the imprisoned children were legal adults aged 18 to 29, officers mistook them for children due to their pale demeanor and sickly physical conditions. When the children were picked up by the police, they expressed their extreme hunger, so deputies allegedly gave them snacks. Following their parents’ arrest, they were treated in local hospitals.
David registered his household in the California Department of Education directory as “Sandcastle Day School,” and he and Louise homeschooled the children. He obtained the necessary permits to run the non-religious, co-ed institution and served as its principal.
Throughout their schooling, the children were not permitted to socialize with anyone and were kept cooped up for the majority of the day. Betty, David’s mother, admitted in an interview after the arrests that her son and his wife had always dressed their children in matching outfits when they left the house.
[Betty Turpin] explained that the couple would line up the children by age, with the parents taking positions at the front and back of the line for ‘protective reasons.’
David earned well but filed for bankruptcy
David Turpin earned $140,000 per year before quitting in 2010. Louise was a stay-at-home mom with no income. They declared bankruptcy in 2011, with approximately $240,000 in credit card debt and a foreclosure on their former Texas farm. When child abuse allegations surfaced, Ivan Trahan, the attorney who represented them in their bankruptcy case, was taken aback.
The Turpins were arrested while living in a single-story home in a Southern California development. While it’s unclear how the Turpins’ unemployed parents supported their family of 15, the house reportedly had several new vehicles and a well-kept exterior.
The parents pleaded not guilty initially
When authorities apprehended David and Louise, the parents were perplexed as to why the county was pursuing legal action against them. They gave no explanation for their careless behavior or why they padlocked and bound their children to beds. According to CBS News, they pleaded “not guilty” to the following charges:
For alleged crimes ranging from 2010 to the present, 12 counts of torture, seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult, six counts of child abuse or neglect, and 12 counts of false imprisonment have been filed. David Turpin is also charged with a lewd act on a child.
David and Louise changed their not-guilty pleas to guilty on February 22, 2019, 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.
Both received life sentences with the possibility of parole after 25 years. Due to the severity of the crime, experts believe they will never be eligible for parole, effectively making it a life sentence.
David was initially sent to the Mule Creek State Prison before being transferred to the California State Prison, Corcoran is in the Central California Women’s Facility, and Louise is in the Central California Women’s Facility.
They showed a prefect image on social media
Despite the fact that David and Louise Turpin held their children captive and rarely allowed them to leave the house, the family appeared to be happy and healthy on social media. They shared photos from Disneyland and Las Vegas, where David and Louise renewed their wedding vows. The parents made the kids wear matching clothes and have identical haircuts in all the family photos.
According to the children’s paternal grandmother, the parents claimed that it was easier to keep their baker’s dozen when the children all looked alike. Despite the fact that the eldest Turpin child was 29, Betty reiterated the parents’ belief that this possessive behavior was for the children’s safety. According to psychologists, the parents’ actions and treatment of their children may be related to a general fear of society.
Remaining 12 children were restrained with rope and chains
When authorities entered the Perris family home, they discovered the remaining 12 children confined to bedrooms, restrained with ropes and chains. When the kids misbehaved, the Turpins used this as a form of punishment, according to California’s Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin.
The parents allegedly allowed the children to shower only once a year and closely monitored water-related activities such as handwashing. They did not allow doctor’s visits and frequently underfed the children.
In another form of punishment, the parents enticed the children with sweet pies, allowing them to look but not eat them. The parents also allegedly forced the children to adhere to irregular sleep cycles, which required them to stay awake until 4 or 5 a.m. According to DA Hestrin:
As a prosecutor, there are some cases that stay with you and haunt you. Sometimes in this business, we have to look at human depravity – and that’s exactly what we’re doing here.
Their house was waist-deep in filth
Details about David and Louise Turpin’s former home in Rio Vista, Texas, have emerged since their arrest. Authorities discovered the house “waist-deep in filth” and the property strewn with dead cats and dogs when they vacated it in 2011 after living there for 11 years. The state of the house puzzled law enforcement. Padlocks had been placed on the refrigerator, closets, and toy chests by the parents. The entire house, including the “makeshift classroom,” was smeared with feces.
Neighbors report that the blinds were always drawn and that there was little activity in and around the house. While there were children’s toys in the yard, they were largely unutilized. One of the siblings attempted to flee once, but was caught and returned to the family before she could call the cops. No one wanted to mess with David because he possessed a pistol, according to reports.
The survivors were nicknamed “The Magnificent 13”
The Turpin children were hospitalized for several months after their rescue at the Corona Regional Medical Center. Doctors and psychologists treated the children for malnourishment and other consequences of their incarceration. Staffers reportedly enjoyed seeing the kids’ loving, kind, and fun personalities emerge while they were there, even nicknaming them “the Magnificent 13.”
In the months following the Turpin clan’s discovery, the seven adult-aged Turpin children requested to be referred to as “survivors, not victims.”
Except for the 2-year-old, all the 13 were malnourished, reportedly eating only frozen food. According to their lawyer, Jack Osborn, they are now learning to appreciate fresh foods and treats such as ice cream sundaes. Osborn also stated that the young Turpins are gradually but thoroughly reintegrating back into a normal and healthy lifestyle. Because of their previous isolation, rehabilitation includes socialization and life skills. Although they are older than the typical driver’s ed age of 16, the older Turpin children now have the opportunity to learn to drive. All the children seem to be enjoying their newfound freedom.
Now, that you’ve read about the Turpin family, read about Rosalynn McGinnis, who after 19 years of daily assault, escaped her stepfather with 8 of her children