true crime

"I never intended any harm." David and Louise Turpin sentenced for abusing their 13 children.

She’s referred to in court and in news articles as Jane Doe Number 4. But the woman who stood up in a California court on Friday has a surname that’s infamous the world over: Turpin.

The college student is among the 13 siblings held captive by their parents, David and Louise Turpin, in their Perris home. After years of being tortured, starved, beaten and restrained, the children, who were then aged between two and 29, were eventually rescued on January 14, 2018, after one managed to escape and contact police.

On Friday, the couple was each sentenced to 25 years behind bars, having pled guilty in February to 14 charges, including torture, adult abuse, child endangerment and false imprisonment.

Hear the 911 call:

Video via ABC News

Several of the siblings gave statements at the sentencing. Among them, Jane Doe Number 4, who declared that she is determined to overcome her twisted upbringing.

“My parents took my whole life from me,” she said, according CBS. “But now, I’m taking my life back.”

She told the court she is living independently, receiving the education she was denied, and that “life is great”.

“Life may have been bad but it made me strong. I fought to become the person I am,” she said. “I saw my dad change my mum; they almost changed me. But I realised what was happening. I immediately did what I could to not become like that. I’m a fighter, I’m strong and I’m shooting through life like a rocket.”

david louise turpin move
The Turpin family. Image: Facebook.
ADVERTISEMENT

Prior to the sentencing, audio was released of the 911 call that exposed what became known in the media as the 'house of horrors'. One of the Turpin children, then 17-years-old, fled through an open window and used her brother's old deactivated mobile phone to dial the only number it would allow: 911.

“I live in a family of 15 people and my parents are abusive,” she told the operator. “My two little sisters, right now, are chained up… with chains. They’re chained to the bed.”

When police arrived they found what District Attorney Mike Hestrin described as "among the worst, most aggravated child abuse cases I have ever seen".

The house was in squalor, and all but two of the children were malnourished; the eldest, who was then 29-years-old, weighed just 37 kilograms.

Hestrin told media at the time that the siblings would be chained up for "weeks or even months" and were only freed to brush their teeth or use the bathroom. They weren't allowed to bathe, and the 17-year-old told authorities she hadn't seen a doctor in five years or ever been to a dentist.

The Turpin's home also served as their prison. Image: Getty.

Hestrin said the children had little knowledge of the outside world, and one even had to be told what a police officer is. He also said that David and Louise would beat them, starve them and torment them with treats.

"They would buy food, including pies - apple pies, pumpkin pies - leave it on the counter, let the children look at it, but not eat," he said, according to Reuters.

ADVERTISEMENT

David and Louise Turpin sentenced: both "sorry" for what they've done.

At Friday's sentencing, David, 57, and Louise, 50, both addressed the court and apologised for their actions.

"I'm sorry for everything I've done to hurt my children," Louise Turpin said through sobs. "I love my children so much. I'm blessed to be the mother of each one of them. I really look forward to the day I can see them, hug them and tell them I'm sorry."

Her husband was too emotional to speak, but his lawyer read a portion of his statement on his behalf.

"I never intended for any harm to come to my children," the statement said. "I'm sorry if I've done anything to cause them harm."

One of the male siblings, identified only as John Doe Number 2, said he struggled to find the words to describe what he endured growing up.

"Sometimes I still have nightmares of things that happened, such as my siblings being chained up or getting beaten," he said.

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

He told the court he is working toward a degree in software engineering, has learned how to swim, ride a bike and, most importantly, how to advocate for himself.

Despite the horrors of his childhood, he added: "I love both my parents so much. Although it may not have been the best way of raising us, I'm glad that they did because it made me the person I am today.

"I love my parents and have forgiven them for a lot of the things they did to us."

During sentencing, the court also implemented various new protective orders for each of the children, preventing their parents from contacting them for between five and 10 years.

READ MORE:

00:00 / ???