Two of the 13 siblings rescued from a California ‘House of Horrors’ three years ago have told of how their parents used the Bible to justify the abuse they meted out.
Jennifer and Jordan Turpin, speaking with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, explained in detail the extremes parents David and Louise would keep the children captive and in line, and even quoted the Book of Deuteronomy to claim they would be justified in choosing to murder their offspring.
The kids were threatened with belts and sticks and even told that if they didn’t behave, the parents would chain them to their beds and pull their hair.
‘To be honest, not even all of us know every single thing each one of us went though,’ Jordan, now 21, told Sawyer.
They also said that the parents ‘literally’ used the Bible to justify how they treated the siblings.
Jordan and Jennifer gave their first media interview for a segment on last week’s episode of ABC’s 20/20.
Jennifer and Jordan Turpin (second from left) spoke to Diane Sawyer about their rescue. The full interview is set to air on Friday
Jennifer (left) and Jordan (right) Turpin spoke out for the first time about their horror ordeal. Whistleblowers say the abused children have been
At one point, Jennifer and Jordin embraced over their emotional recounting of their story
Jordan was 17 when she called police to her California home in 2018. It was the first time she had ever spoken on a phone or to someone outside her family
‘They loved to point out things in Deuteronomy, saying that, ‘We have the right to do this to you,’ said Jennifer, now 33. ‘That they even had the right to kill us if we didn’t listen.’
Veteran journalist Sawyer said that the only fresh air the children would ever get was from sticking their heads out of a window when David and Louise weren’t watching.
Jordan Turpin, now 21, escaped her home and called the cops on her abusive parents on January 14, 2018. Bodycam footage from that night in Perris, California, shows a terrified girl struggling to speak but determined to rescue her siblings.
Then 17, Jordan managed to escape her home out a window with a cell phone, which contained evidence of the abuse, walking down the middle of the street not knowing where she lived and shaking as she struggled to dial 911.
Jordan admitted her fear when trying to call the authorities on her parents.
‘My whole body was shaking. I couldn’t really dial 911,’ she said. ‘I think it was us coming so close to death so many times. If something happened to me, at least I died trying.’
The shocking abuse in the Turpin home went unnoticed in the community of Perris, about 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles, until Jordan escaped from the house and called police.
Body-worn camera footage from the deputy who rescued the siblings shows him talking to Jordan, who nervously says she’s never talked to anyone outside the home.
When the deputy asked if she was taking any medication, Jordan said she didn’t know what that word meant.
When the 13 siblings were rescued, all but the 2-year-old were severely underweight and hadn’t bathed for months.
Investigators concluded the youngest child was the only one not abused by their parents, who have since been sentenced to life in prison.
Jordan was one of 13 siblings who were abused by David and Louise, center, in their Southern California home
The Turpins claimed that ‘God called on them to keep having children’
The 911 dispatcher had stayed on the phone with the frightened girl until an officer arrived. Jordan is seen noticeably frantic, taking a moment to calm herself as she begins speaking with the officer.
‘Okay. I just ran away from home. And I live in a family of 15. My two little sisters right now are chained up,’ she say as her voice shakes sounding much younger than 17.
When the officer asks where the siblings are chained up she replies: ‘On the bed now mother didn’t chain them up just to be mean. Okay. They’re chained up because they stole mother’s food.’
She strains to maintain her calm as she speaks to a person outside her home for the first time in her life. ‘But…I’m sorry if I talk too much. Okay. I’ve never talked to anybody out there so I don’t- I’ve never been alone with a person so this is very hard for me to talk,’ she tells the officer.
Questioning the frazzled teen who struggles to speak clearly, the officer asks if she’s on any medication.
‘Oh. I don’t think I’ve ever tooken a pill before. Right, I haven’t,’ she confirms in her broken vocabulary.
She’s then seen putting on a baseball cap, which ABC’s Diane Sawyer explained in her interview was a reminder of one of her sisters. After nervously fixing the cap on her head, she dives back into the reason for her call.
‘Our parents are abusing. They abuse us. But the reason I called and the reason I managed to get out here this is one of the most scariest things I’ve ever done. I’m terrified. But I called because my two little sisters they’re chained up right now.’
The officer asks if Jordan has any photos of the girls chained up and she excitedly confirms she took photos after one of her sisters told her to.
‘I don’t have proof of everything but I have proof that my sisters are chained up.’
Not knowing the word ‘bruise’ she tells the officer: ‘See? Those are the places that make in on them. And see how dirty she is? We’re so filthy. We don’t take baths.’
The officer asks one more time: ‘Your parents chained them up?’
‘Yes, because they stole food. But they stole it because they were hungry,’ Jordan confirms.
Jordan, now 21, recounted the terrifying moment she escaped and dialed 911 believing her parents would kill her when they found out
Jennifer Turpin, 33, confirmed that the kids would often be chained up for months describing their home as ‘hell’
Audio from the bodycam recorded the deputy asking Jordan: ‘What are your parents going to do when they find out you left?’
‘They are going to want to literally kill me,’ she answers.
Jordan’s call to police lasted for 20 minutes because the girl struggled to work out her address because she had not been outside alone before.
‘I had to make sure that if I left we wouldn’t go back and we would get the help we needed,’ she told Sawyer.
Explaining her decision to finally escape, Jordan told Sawyer: ‘I think it was us coming close to death so many times.’
‘It was literally a now or never. If something happened to me, at least I died trying.’
‘The only word I know to call it is ‘hell,”‘ Jordan’s sister Jennifer, 33, added in the trailer for the 20/20 special, set to air Friday.
‘My parents took my whole life from me, but now I am taking my life back,’ she said.
Jennifer doesn’t doesn’t want her siblings to be remembered as victims, but instead as fighters.
‘I want the Turpin name [to be] “Wow, they’re strong. They’re not broken. They’ve got this,'” she said.
Jordan, describing life post-rescue, said: ‘It’s so free. Like wow, this is life.’
She said she and her siblings came ‘close to death so many times.’
‘Mother, she choked me and I literally thought I was going to die,’ she shared.
In her harrowing 911 call, Jordan sounded clear but agitated as she walked away from the home she was confined to most of the time and revealed everything to the dispatcher.
‘Um hello? I just ran away from home because I live in a family of 15. OK? Can you hear me? And we have abusing parents. Did you hear that?’ Jordan Turpin tells a dispatcher.
When the dispatcher asked how her parents abused her and her siblings, she replied: ‘OK, They hit us. They like to throw us across the room. They pull out hair. They yank out our hair. I have two … My two little sisters right now are chained up.’
Bodycam footage later shows officers enter the house, confront the parents and discover the children, at least two of whom were shackled to their beds.
‘Sarge, we’ve got another room in the front right here with two kiddos in the bed,’ an officer says in the video.
The siblings, ranging in age from 2 to 29 years old, were freed from the home in January 2018 after being regularly beaten, starved and strangled by their parents.
The house was covered in filth and the stench of human waste was said to be overwhelming. Jennifer confirmed that the kids would often be chained up for months.
Jordan crawled out of a window and called the police using a cell phone in January 2018. She said she walked on the street because she didn’t know about the sidewalks
David and Louise ate fast food in front of their children, who were only allowed one meal per day at one point. They would chain the siblings to filthy beds if they tried to steal food
In 2019, Louise’s sister said that Louise (above) cried when they discussed the children but ‘didn’t want to admit to anything’ and is in ‘denial’
Deputies testified that the children said they were only allowed to shower once a year
The parents’ abuse and neglect was so ‘severe, pervasive, [and] prolonged’ that it stunted their children’s growth, led to muscle wasting and left two of their daughters unable to bear children.
WHERE ARE THE TURPIN CHILDREN NOW? THE CASE THAT SHOCKED THE NATION
Since the 13 Turpin children were rescued from their parents horror house in January 2018, they have been actively working to take back their lives.
‘They’re all happy,’ Deputy District Attorney Kevin Beecham, who prosecuted the Turpin case, told People in April 2020. ‘They are moving on with their lives.’
His interview revealed the siblings still live in Southern California and remain close to each other, regularly getting together.
‘They still meet with each other, all 13 of them, so they’ll meet somewhere kind of discreet,’ he shared.
Beecham shared that the six youngest children had been adopted and, since they had experienced fewer years of abuse due to their ages, were able to quickly adjust to their new lives.
One of the older siblings has earned a college degree.
Others are in school, living on their own and working jobs.
‘Some of them 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,’ Beecham explained.
A few of the siblings, at the time of the interview, were still living in group homes as they received therapy and counseling.
Two of the Turpin sisters spoke out to Diane Sawyer, in an interview airing on November 19, revealing that they were moving forward with their lives.
‘My parents took my whole life from me, but now I am taking my life back,’ one sister told Sawyer.
The other described her new life as being ‘free.’
Following David and Louise’s arrests in January 2018, horrific details began to emerge of the extent of torture, abuse and neglect that the children.
Deputies testified that the children said they were only allowed to shower once a year.
They were mainly kept in their rooms except for meals, which had been reduced from three to one per day, a combination of lunch and dinner.
For years, the siblings’ diet consisted of nothing but two slices of bread with peanut butter or bologna. The couple were also accused of taunting their children with pies and other food that they were forbidden to eat.
The Turpin parents chowed down on fast food in front of them, chaining the children to filthy beds if they tried to steal food.
‘They still can’t look at peanut butter or bologna,’ Deputy District Attorney Kevin Beecham told People magazine last year.
‘I made the mistake of mentioning peanut butter during one of our meet-and-greets, and one of the girls almost threw up. And when they’re at the grocery store, they can’t look at peanut butter. They can’t even go down the aisle where there’s peanut butter.’
The Turpin offspring weren’t allowed to play like normal children and were deprived of things other kids had, including toys and games.
Sawyer also spoke with Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin, who was involved with the case. He says it is one he will never forget.
‘It stopped me dead in my tracks,’ he said. ‘There are cases that stick with you, that haunt you.’
David and Louise pleaded guilty to 14 counts of torture and other abuse in 2019 and were sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
They are both eligible for parole in 22 years.
The 13 siblings remained out of the public eye as their parents’ case unfolded in court and they learned to adapt to normal life outside the confines of the house of horrors.
Beecham, who prosecuted the Turpin case, told People magazine that all of the siblings ‘are happy.’
‘They are moving on with their lives,’ he added.
At that time, one sibling had graduated college, while several others had jobs or were going to school.
‘Some of them 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,’ he shared.
He also noted that the siblings see each other regularly.
‘They still meet with each other, all 13 of them, so they’ll meet somewhere kind of discreet,’ he said.
Several of the siblings have changed their names to rid themselves of the stigma of being a victim in the high-profile case.
‘It would be difficult for them to carry that name, that label of being a victim, forever,’ Beecham said.
In 2019, Louise’s sister Elizabeth Flores told Radar Online that Louise cried when they discussed the children but ‘didn’t want to admit to anything’ and is in ‘denial.’
‘We talked about the baby. She told me how she would turn 3 in two weeks and she started to cry because she was upset she wouldn’t be there,’ Elizabeth said.
Even since being rescued, some of the children have been reported still being by a social services system that was supposed to help them transition to new lives, according to a new report.
Now, Riverside County has hired a private law firm to look into allegations the seven adult and six minor children in the Turpin family did not get basic services they needed after they were freed from their parents’ prison-like home, ABC News reported.
A conservatorship, like the one Britney Spears was recently freed from, is allegedly preventing even the adult Turpins from accessing some $600,000 in donated funds, leaving them living in squalor and on the brink of homelessness.
There also is a criminal investigation of a foster family suspected of mistreating several children, including one of the Turpins, ABC reported. A lawyer for that family denied the allegations.
Then aged from two to 29, the siblings lived their lives in horribly abusive conditions that included being locked in their home for years, shackled to beds and starved by their parents
Jordan staged a daring escape from the family home (above) in 2018, contacting police
Some of the children reported they ‘felt betrayed’ by local officials’ handling of their cases, said Melissa Donaldson, Riverside County’s director of victim services.
Donaldson said there were times when the children did not have a safe place to stay or enough food, with the adult children thrust into ‘couch surfing’ at times and prevented from accessing their $600,000 trust by a court-appointed conservator.
Joshua Turpin, 29, told the network that the conservator in the public guardian’s office had denied his request to use some of the funds to buy a bike, even though he had no other form of transportation.
Donaldson cried as she described how the children, who had little contact with the outside world while being held like prisoners by their parents, David and Louise Turpin, were at times left on their own to try to work through a complicated bureaucracy.
‘When the case first broke, I obviously got thousands of offers of help … dentists and doctors and people saying, ‘I will serve these kids pro bono. Please, send them my way,” she said.
‘I had to pass on those referrals to the Child Protective Services workers and the hospital. And none of them were utilized,’ she said.
Melissa Donaldson, Riverside County’s director of victim services, slammed local officials for their handling of the case, saying the children ‘feel betrayed’
‘They have been victimized again by the system,’ said Riverside Country District Attorney Mike Hestrin. ‘And that is unimaginable to me’
The social worker said that the adult Turpin children were now living in one of the most dangerous, crime-ridden parts of the county, and that one of them had been assaulted.
‘They all lacked that sixth sense of fear. They had none of that, and they were cast right into the world in a very unsafe violent inner-city area,’ said Wade Walsvick, the lead district attorney’s investigator on the case.
‘There are resources for them that they can’t access. They’re living in squalor. They’re living in a crime ridden neighborhoods. There’s money for them for their education. They can’t access it,’ said Riverside Country District Attorney Mike Hestrin.
‘They have been victimized again by the system,’ said Hestrin. ‘And that is unimaginable to me, that we could have the very worst case of child abuse that I’ve ever seen, maybe one of the worst in California history, and that we would then not be able to get it together to give them basic needs, basic necessities,’ he said.
Donaldson said she spoke out ‘because we have to fix’ the system.
David (left) and Louise Turpin (right) pleaded guilty to 14 counts of torture and other abuse in 2019 and were sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. They are eligible for parole in 22 years
Jordan crawled out of a window and called the police using a cell phone in January 2018. She said she walked on the street because she didn’t know about the sidewalks
In the days after their release, the adult and minor children were taken to hospitals for treatment. Donations and support poured in from around the world.
But since that time, the adult siblings have faced challenges accessing social services and even money that was donated for their care. The money was placed in a trust controlled by a court-appointed public guardian.
Joshua Turpin, 29, told ABC News he couldn’t access funds to cover transportation needs and when he asked for help from the county’s deputy public guardian assigned to his case, ‘she would just tell me, `Just go Google it.´’
‘I called the public guardian´s office and she refused to let me request for a bike,’ he said.
In a statement, Riverside County Executive Officer Jeff Van Waganen said his office has hired a law firm run by former federal Judge Stephen G. Larson to analyze the services provided and the quality of care they received.
A report is due by the end of March.
‘The County of Riverside is committed to conducting a thorough and transparent review of the services provided to the Turpin siblings and to improve and strengthen the County´s child welfare and dependent adult systems,’ the statement said.
Dr. Matthew Chang, who heads the county’s public guardian office, said he welcomed the investigation into the care of the siblings.
The full 20/20 special Escape From A House Of Horror can be seen on Hulu.