By Paloma Esquivel
Los Angeles Times
A Perris, Calif., couple who for years tortured, abused and imprisoned their children, starving them and at times chaining them to their beds, were sentenced Friday to 25 years to life in prison.
“I cannot describe in words what we went through growing up. Sometimes I still have nightmares of things that have happened,” one of the victims told the court before the sentencing. “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.”
David and Louise Turpin, who are the parents of 13 children, each pleaded guilty to 14 felony charges in February, including one count of torture, four of false imprisonment, six of cruelty to adult dependents and three of willful child cruelty.
The horrific details of the case have drawn attention around the world, but Friday was the first time some of the siblings publicly spoke for themselves. Their message was largely one of looking toward the future. A number of them spoke of the love they still have for their parents.
“My parents took my whole life from me but now I’m taking my life back. I’m in college now and living independently,” said one victim, who was identified only as Jane Doe No. 4. “I believe everything happens for a reason. Life may have been bad but it made me strong. I fought to become the person I am … I’m a fighter I’m strong and I’m shooting through life like a rocket.”
In another statement, which was read by a victims’ advocate, one of the Turpins’ children described her hope that she could talk to her parents again.
“I believe our parents tried their best … they believed everything they did was to protect us,” the statement said. “I want to be allowed to talk to both my parents by phone.”
The abuse that the children endured had gone seemingly unnoticed in the couple’s Perris neighborhood until January 2018, when one of them climbed out of a window and called 911 to ask for help, alerting police to the abuse and imprisonment that until then had gone unnoticed in the couple’s Perris neighborhood.
Inside the family’s home on Muir Woods Road, deputies found two young girls who had been chained to their bed for weeks. Twelve of the 13 siblings were so frail and malnourished that deputies at first assumed they were all minors; they later learned that seven were adults.
Investigators later learned that the chains were punishment for stealing candy.
Prosecutors said the couple had abused and neglected their children for years, dating back to the 1990s when the family lived in Texas.
At a hearing in June, investigators said the siblings told them that while they lived in Texas, David Turpin would inflict physical punishments that escalated in severity. At times, the children were placed in cages or a dog kennel. In California, Louise Turpin was the one who inflicted much of the corporal punishment, investigators said.
According to investigators, the parents abandoned their children for about three or four years, leaving them to live in a trailer in the small town of Rio Vista, Texas, while the couple lived nearby.
During that time, the parents would call the siblings by phone and force the two older children to punish the others, investigators said.
David Turpin “conditioned the children over years, over decades, of physical torment and abuse, all stemming from Texas,” Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Kevin Beecham said at the hearing in June. “He conditioned them in a way that’s unimaginable. … When the parents weren’t there, they were still forced to obey.”
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