Couple who starved, shackled children get life in prison

David Allen Turpin 57 and Louise Anna Turpin 49

David Allen Turpin 57 and Louise Anna Turpin 49. Source Riverside County Sheriff's Department

A California couple who inflicted years and torture on 12 of their 13 children and were only discovered when one of their daughters fled their home and pleaded for help to a 911 operator were sentenced to life in prison Friday, with parole possible after 25 years.

One of their daughters, weeping, said in court that "My parents took my whole life from me but now I'm taking my life back".

"I remember our mother sitting in her recliner and crying, saying she don't know what to do", the child wrote in a statement that was read in court. I'm a fighter. I'm strong and I'm shooting through life like a rocket, " a daughter said. "I hope they get all the education they need".

She also expressed a desire to talk to them again.

"I can not describe in words what we went through growing up", he said in his statement. "Sometimes, I still have nightmares of things that had happened to us, such as my siblings being chained up or getting beaten".

"But that is the past and this is now", he said.

The statement went on to say that the parents continued buying soda because "father needed it for work".

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He revealed how he now studying to be a software engineer at college and has learned to ride a bike, swim and cook healthy meals. "She didn't want to use rope or chain, but she was afraid her children were taking in too much sugar and coffee".

Both siblings sat in the courtroom accompanied by a support and comfort dog named Raider, from the Corona Police Department.

The sentence came 15 months after the Turpins were arrested on January 14, 2018 and a day after an audio tape was released to the public of the 911 call made by the Turpin's then 17-year-old daughter who escaped their house and blew open the high-profile abuse case. Two have five-year restraining orders and one had the restraining order dropped.

The children at the time ranged in age from 2 to 29. The children appeared emaciated and filthy; their surroundings were described as "dark and foul-smelling".

The severely malnourished children's growth was stunted.

The 17-year-old complained she could no longer stomach peanut butter sandwiches - they made her gag. Officials also concluded several of the victims suffered cognitive impairment and neuropathy as result of the extreme and prolonged physical abuse.

According to excerpts of the initial emergency call released during court proceedings, the escaped girl told the dispatcher two of her siblings were chained to beds so tightly that their skin was bruised.

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The siblings were often beaten, whipped with belts and tied up for months at a time, prosecutors said.

As part of the plea deal, which called for additional charges against both spouses to be dropped, the Turpins will spend the rest of their lives in prison unless granted parole after a mininum of 25 years behind bars, the Riverside County District Attorney said on Twitter.

The youngest child, who was 2 when the Turpins were arrested, was apparently spared of the abuse, Hestrin determined.

I want the court to know our parents loved each other and loved each of their children. They are very smart, awesome individuals. "I am so proud of each and every one of my children. I miss all of our children and I will be praying for them". "I love them more than they could ever imagine".

Her husband, who was shaking and could not initially read from a written statement, let his lawyer speak for him until he regained his composure.

"I believe God has a special plan for each of them and I wish I could tell them I'm sorry".

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