Several children abused for years by their parents in a California home that became known as the “House of Horrors” confronted them at their Friday sentencing.
After emotional statements by both the siblings and parents, David and Louise Turpin were sentenced to 25 years to life in prison after each pleaded guilty to 14 felony counts including cruelty to an adult dependent, child cruelty, torture and false imprisonment in Riverside Superior Court.
They are both eligible for parole in 22 years.
One of the couple’s daughters, who was called Jane Doe No. 4 in court, told the packed courtroom that her parents had taken “my whole life away from me, but now I am taking it back.”
She said she is now in college, lives independently and has friends.
“I believe everything happens for a reason,” she said. “I fought to become the person I am. I saw my dad change my mom. They almost changed me but I realized what was happening and I immediately did what I could to not become like them. I am a fighter. I am strong and I am shooting through life like a rocket.”
The couple’s son, Joshua, who said he is studying software engineering at a nearby college and recently learned how to ride a bike, told the court he still has nightmares, but added he has forgiven his parents for the years of abuse.
“I cannot describe in words what we went through growing up,” he said. “Sometimes I still have nightmares of things that had happened — such as my siblings being chained up or beaten — but that is the past and this is now. I love my parents and have forgiven them for a lot of the things they did to us.”
Several Turpin children expressed sympathy toward their parents, and seemed ambivalent about reconciling their years of abuse with positive feelings toward their abusers.
In a statement read by Joshua, the Turpin’s daughter Jessica wrote that she was going to college, had an apartment and “am able to [transport] myself independently by bus, bike or walking.”
But Jessica said, “I love both of my parents so much. Although it may not have been the best way of raising us, I am glad they did because it made me the person I am today. I just want to thank them for teaching me about God and faith.”
Another Turpin daughter, Joy, wrote in a letter read by a victim advocate, “They felt that God blessed them with all of their children so they kept away from the world and trusted God would guide them through life.”
Joy said that as the years went by, her parents became overwhelmed raising them.
“I believe our parents feared that if they asked for help they would lose their children,” the statement read.
At the end of her statement, Joy wrote that she hoped that her parents would be spend their prison sentence close to the detention center where they are currently housed “so if we ever want to visit them we can.”
She also asked for the judge to lift the two-year restraining order lifted and said, “I want to be allowed to talk to both of my parents by phone.”
Dad Says He ‘Never Intended .. Any Harm’
After the Turpin siblings testified, Riverside Superior Court Judge Bernard J. Schwartz allowed both David and Louise to read prepared statements.
In a portion read by his attorney, David Turpin wrote that he “never intended for any harm to come to my children…. I hope the very best for my children in their future.”
Louise Turpin, who read her statement in court, tearfully apologized.
“I want to say I am sorry for everything I have done,” she said. “I love my children so much… I pray for my children every day. I am truly sorry for everything I have done to hurt them. I love them more than they can ever imagine.”
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Schwartz then handed down the sentence, stating: “The only reason your punishment is less than the maximum is that you took responsibility and spared your children the harm of reliving it,” he said.
Siblings ‘Take Every Day as a Gift’
The sentence came 15 months after the Turpins were arrested on Jan. 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.
The teen climbed through a window and, using a disconnected cell phone, called 911 and told authorities she and her siblings were being abused by their parents. At the time of the phone call, the Turpin siblings ranged in age from 2 to 29.
Responding officers found a scene of malnutrition and squalor at the Turpin residence, with some of the children chained to the 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.
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.”
He added, “For really the first time they’re able to make their own decisions, and decide what they’re going to eat. They decide where they’re going to go, what they’re going to study.”