Religious Parents Plead Guilty to Torturing & Starving 12 Children

Religious Parents Plead Guilty to Torturing & Starving 12 Children February 23, 2019
Riverside County Sherriff

The California parents that tortured and imprisoned their 12-children pleaded guilty to reduced charges on Friday. David and Louise Turpin pleaded guilty to 14 felonies in court. The pleas by the parents wrapped up the case that captivated the world with the couple’s arrest last year.

In court on February 22, David and Louise Turpin pleaded guilty to dependent adult abuse, false imprisonment, child endangerment and torture. Prosecutors initially charged the couple with 88 felonies. As a part of the plea agreement, they dropped 74 charges.

The Turpins agreed to a sentence of 25 years to life in prison. They will both be eligible for parole after they serve 25 years. The sentence they received was the maximum they could receive under California law. The court will sentence the couple in April.

Now that the Turpins have pleaded guilty, their children will not have to testify against them in court. Their trial had been scheduled for September. Prosecutors say the plea agreement allows the children to move forward without having to face the additional trauma of testifying in court.

District Attorney Mike Hestrin said,

“We were going to seek justice in a way that did not bring further harm to the victims. I believe we have accomplished that.”

Hestrin also noted that the case was one of the worst aggravated child abuse cases he had ever seen in his career. According to the D.A., the children agreed with the terms of the agreement and were pleased with the resolution of the case.

The case against the Turpins became worldwide news when their 17-year-old daughter escaped from their home.  After more than two years of planning, the girl escaped through a window with a deactivated cellphone that could still call 911.

In the 911 call, the girl told police that her parents were holding her siblings prisoner. She said that several of her siblings were chained to their beds and her parents were abusive.

When police arrived at the Turpin’s home in California, they found several of the children chained in dark and foul-smelling rooms. Police asked the parents why their children were chained up, and they could not provide a reasonable answer.

After making the horrifying finding, the police arrested the parents. The children were taken to a local hospital to receive treatment for malnutrition and injuries they suffered by their parents.

Through the investigation, the children described a life of terror and captivity inside their home. Their parents locked them to beds with chains for weeks to months at a time. Evidence at the scene suggested that the parents did not unchain their children to use the bathroom. The home stunk of urine and feces.

When the children were not tied up, their father made the kids march around the home and recite Bible verses. The couple only allowed the 12 kids to shower once a year, and they could only wash their hands up to their wrists.

Even though several of the children were legally adults, the couple forced their adult children to remain in their home.

Not only did the children sit in their urine and feces soaked clothing, the parents rarely fed their children. Both parents bought food for themselves and indulged in the food in front of their kids. The children told police their parents often purchased apple and pumpkin pie and put them on the counter to taunt them.

Because of their forced starvation by their parents, the children were small in size and stature. Additionally, the starvation impacted the cognitive development of several of the children.

Inside the home, the parents restricted their kids from interacting with the outside world. Investigators found very few toys or stuffed animals inside the house. However, the parents purchased toys and left them in their packages to further torture the children.

While in the home, the children were allowed to write in journals. Police removed dozens of journals from home. Because of their severe isolation, the children didn’t even know what police officers were when they met them.

David and Louise forced their children to stay up all night. They allowed the kids to go to bed at 4 – 5 am. The kids slept most of the day while the couple worked.

After police arrested David and Louise, the children aged 2 – 29 received medical care. Throughout several months, the children slowly recovered from their severe malnutrition. Several of the adult children were so small that the medical staff initially thought they were 10-12 years old.

Thirteen months after their rescue from isolation and imprisonment, the children are learning how to make decisions on their own. They are learning how to decide what to eat, wear, and what they want to study. For the first time, the children have the freedom to do what they want to do.

As of January 2019, none of the children had spoken to their parents. The older children remained extremely protective of their younger siblings. All of the minor children were placed in foster care by the state. Frequently, the adult children visit their younger siblings and check in on them.

All of the children are working toward having an independent life. With their parents pleading guilty, the kids will finally be able to move forward.

Even though the Turpins will be eligible for parole in 25 years, they will both be in their twilight years. Louise will be 75 and David will be 82 at that time.

No child should ever be tortured, chained, and starved by their parents. David and Louise Turpin turned their faith into a weapon against their children. He forced them to recite various Bible verses and subscribe to a twisted form of Christianity. Then he used that faith as an excuse to keep them out of school and isolated from the world.

All too often religion is used to harm, torture, and control others. David created his own cult with the help of his wife. Hopefully, the two of them never leave their prison cells.


*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.

She co-hosts the YouTube show, “The Smoking Nun,” with Kyle Curtis. The show airs weekly and tackles pseudoscience, current events, and crime stories.

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  • valleycat1

    I am glad that the kids will not have to suffer through trial testimony and can get on with claiming a decent life, and glad to see the parents were still held to the maximum penalty. However, it seems that if a person admits to committing at least 14 felonies, against their own kids, that parole would not be an option, or perhaps that the number of years before eligible would be multiplied by 14.

    Also, one of the photos shown on tv reports last night appeared to be mom and dad’s wedding photo, surrounded by most if not all the kids. Still trying to figure that one out.

  • Anat

    They did ‘vow renewals’ every couple of years. Took all the kids to Vegas to celebrate with some Elvis impersonator.

  • I know