The religious parents that chained up and tortured their 12 children were sentenced to 25-years to life in prison. David and Louise Turpin were arrested in January 2018 after their 17-year-old daughter escaped through a window and called the police to report the abuse. During the sentencing, the court listened to letters from a few of their children.
In a California courtroom, Louise and David Turpin appeared somber and disheveled. The couple accepted a plea deal for the torture and abuse of their 12 children last month.
At the sentencing, two of their children shared victim impact statements with the court. Another letter was read to the court by a third party on behalf of one of their daughters. The statements by the children were the first time the public has heard directly from the children impacted by the horrific abuse.
In a quiet and childlike voice, one of their adult daughters addressed the judge. She told the court that her parents had stolen her entire life from her. Today she is attending college, living independently, and enjoys hanging out with her friends.
The girl went on to say that she watched her father change her mother. Determined not to become like them, she said she did what she could to help her family.
“I’m a fighter, I’m strong, and I’m shooting through life like a rocket.”
Then one of their adult son Joshua read two statements. The first statement he read was from his sister Jessica. In her opening words, she wrote that she loved her parents very much and thanked them for raising her. She expressed gratitude for teaching her about God. Then she stated she knows that God can see the heart of a person and she knows that God sees her parents heart.
According to the letter, Jessica is attending college. She lives independently and travels to school by herself. Then she quoted a bible passage. She ended by telling her parents she loved them and said, “God is all we need.”
During the letter, Louise Turpin sobbed and wiped tears from her eyes. Her mouth quivered and she moved forward in her chair as though she wanted to reach out to her son.
Next, Joshua shared his letter to his parents. He started by saying he could not describe the way he grew up.
“I cannot describe in words what we went through growing up. Sometimes I still have nightmares of things that had happened such as my siblings being chained up or beaten.”
He continued that he forgave his parents for the past. Since their arrest in January 2018, Joshua started college and began working on a bachelor’s degree. He lives independently and hopes to begin a master’s degree after graduating with his bachelors.
An attorney for the children read the final letter to the court written by their daughter Joy. Joy provided insight into the abuse she experienced at home. However, she dismissed the violence by claiming her parents were overwhelmed and financially stressed.
Joy recalled that her mother worried about the children drinking too much sugar and caffeine. Because David needed soda in the home to “stay awake,” the parents decided to chain the kids up so they could not eat sugar or drink caffeinated soda.
In regards to homeschooling, Joy said her parents sent her older brother to public school. However, they did not like what the school was teaching them. They began to homeschool him and proceeded to homeschool all of the children. The task to homeschool 12 children became too overwhelming which Joy believes led to escalating abuse.
Joy said the abuse escalated in 2016 to the worst levels after both of Louise’s parents died. According to the daughter, her parents were overwhelmed financially but were too proud to ask for help.
Instead, they resorted to drastic measures to protect their children. She denied that her parents knew that they were malnourished.
In her final statement, she asked the court to lift her restraining order against her parents. Prosecutors responded by telling the judge they requested new restraining orders for all of the victims. The judge enforced the laws and told David and Louise they could not have any contact with their children.
David Turpin spoke briefly to say he loved his children and believed that his children loved him. He said he pleaded guilty so his children would not be forced to testify against him.
Then he told his adult children that he hoped they all finished their degrees and had successful careers. David cried and stopped during periods of his statement.
When Louise spoke, she was extremely emotional. She told the court that she was blessed to be the mother to her children.
Louise shared that she loved her children so much and wished them all the best in the future. Then she told the court she longed for the day where she could speak to them and tell them she is sorry.
When the judge spoke, he did not mince words.
“The selfish, cruel, and inhumane treatment of your own children has deprived them, your family, friends, and society their gifts.
Their lives have been permanently altered in their ability with their ability to learn, grow, and thrive.
You have delayed their mental, physical, and emotional health. To the extent that they do thrive, it will be not becuase of you but in spite of you.”
Following the remarks by the judge, he sentenced the couple to 25 years to life in prison. He told the couple the only reason they will have the possibility of parole is that they admitted their guilt.
By pleading guilty, the judge said they saved their children’s revictimization by having to testify in court.The sentencing ends the criminal phase of the case that began in January 2018. Police arrested the couple after their 17-year-old daughter snuck out of a bedroom window and called the police. She told police that her parents were holding her siblings against their will and chaining them to beds.
When police arrived, they found the house in complete disarray. The home smelled like urine and feces. Authorities found multiple children chained to beds.
Through interviews with police, the children described years of horrific abuse. Their parents kept them chained to the bed for weeks at a time as a form of punishment. They were not unchained to use the restroom. The children described horrific beatings by their parents. Additionally, their parents only allowed the children to shower once a month.
All of the children were extremely malnourished and small for their ages. Initially, police believed all of the children were minors. However, through interviews, they realized that several of the children were in their 20s. Despite their age, their parents refused to let them move out or live on their own.
The children were not allowed to attend public school. They had limited access to the internet or the outside world. Most of them had never seen doctors, and none of them knew what police officers were. Their father allowed them to keep journals. Police learned many details about the abuse through the seizure of the journals.
David and Louise were religious zealots that seemed to fear the world around them. They forced their children to memorize Bible passages and march in circles around the house.
Numerous times during the court statements of the victims the children referenced their parent’s abundant love for God. However, there seems to be something seriously wrong with their understanding of God. If God existed, why would he/she allow the horrific abuse and torture of the children?
Also, if the parents loved their kids as much as they said, why would they chain them up, torture them, and beat them for years. Why would the parents hold their adult children hostage?
Parents like the Turpins consistently use God as a means to abuse and harm their children. They hide behind their faith as an excuse to torture and control their kids. Children become the property of the parents and become collateral damage to the parents’ twisted belief system.
Louise and David Turpin seemed genuinely remorseful. However, I’m not convinced they even fathom how greatly they damaged their children. As I watched the sentencing, I failed to believe either of them would have changed on their own. They seemed only remorseful that they were caught.
Neither of these people deserves to ever walk in the free world again. They have completely damaged and ruined their children. As evidenced by their children’s statements, they brainwashed their children to believe their abuse was done out of love.
My one hope is that the court continues to keep the parents away from the children. These kids have a lot of healing to do. Their parents were not loving or kind. No amount of abuse should ever be excused by feeling “overwhelmed.” Telling the children, they were chained, so they didn’t drink soda is the ridiculous excuse. The parents could have easily locked the pop up rather than the children.
These parents are monsters. There are no excuses for this behavior. May they rot behind bars until they die.
Watch the full sentencing hearing here:
*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.
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