Parents David and Louise Turpin face life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years after pleading guilty to abuse

By Jeff Truesdell and Christine Pelisek
April 18, 2019 01:25 PM
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An audio tape has been released to the public of the 911 call made by a 17-year-old girl escaping her parents’ abuse in what became known as the California House of Horrors.

The call, which was previously played in court, blew open the case against David and Louise Turpin, who had been beating, shackling and starving their 13 children inside their Perris home for years.

“My parents are abusive,” a girl tells the dispatcher, sounding much younger than her 17 years, in the voice recording obtained by ABC News. “My two little sisters right now are chained up … they’re chained up to their bed.”

The Turpin family
Credit: David-Louis Turpin/Facebook

The Turpin parents, who pleaded guilty in February to multiple felony counts including child cruelty, torture and false imprisonment, will be sentenced Friday in Riverside Superior Court. The two each face life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years.

At the time of the 911 call on January 14, 2018, their children ranged in age from 2 to 29.

“I live in a family of 15 people and our parents are abusive,” the 17-year-old girl tells the 911 operator after fleeing through a window of her family’s suburban Perris home, according to audio of the call that first was played in court in June 2018, as previously reported by PEOPLE.

David Allen Turpin and Louise Anna Turpin
David Turpin, at left, and Louise Turpin
| Credit: Riverside County Sheriff's Department (2)

“We live in filth,” the caller says in the recording. “Sometimes I wake up and can’t breathe because of how dirty the house is.”

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The girl’s sisters and one of her brothers were all chained to their beds, she says on the call, in response to the dispatcher’s questions.

“Our parents don’t let us move out,” the girl says. “Some of us have asked for jobs and they said that would never happen.”

US-CRIME-CHILDREN-COURT-CHARGES
Louise, at far left, and David Turpin confer with attorneys on Jan. 18, 2018
| Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty

Though she spoke in detail about life behind closed doors in the Turpin family, the girl seemed at a loss to answer basic questions about the wider world, such as where she lived. Instead she read her address from a piece of paper she carried with her.

“I haven’t been out. I don’t go out much,” the girl says. “I don’t know anything about the streets or anything.”

“I don’t know what medication is,” she says at one point, noting, “We don’t really do schools. I haven’t finished first grade and I am 17.”

Police Arrest Parents After Escaped Child Calls 911 On Parents Who Kept 13 Siblings Restrained In Shackles
Turpin home in Perris, California
| Credit: Sandy Huffaker/Getty

Officers who responded to the call found a scene of squalor inside the Turpin residence, with some of the children chained to furniture. Prosecutors said the parents beat, strangled and starved the kids in an intensifying cycle of abuse dating back to at least 2010 when the family lived in Texas before moving to California.

Among other disturbing behavior, prosecutors alleged the children were forbidden to shower more than once a year and none had ever seen a dentist.

“This is among the worst, most aggravated child abuse cases I have ever seen,” Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said at a press conference after the parents’ guilty pleas were announced.

Turpin preliminary hearing over alleged mistreatment of their 13 children, Riverside, USA - 20 Jun 2018
Louise Turpin in court on June 20, 2018
| Credit: IRFAN KHAN/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

One reason his office pursued the plea agreement was to ensure the victims didn’t have to testify about the abuse they suffered, he said.

“We decided that the victims have endured enough torture and abuse,” he said. “I personally met with the victims and, rest assured, they all are relieved to know this case has been resolved. The defendants in this case essentially accepted the maximum punishment under current California law.”

In January, Jack Osborn, the attorney for the seven adult children told NBC that the siblings were “not bitter. They really take every day as it is, as a gift.”

Osborn said the children “came from a situation that seemed normal to them. And now they’re in a new normal. And so I think they may spend a long time processing the two.”