The teenage girl who called 911 to allege she and her 12 siblings were being abused inside their California home did so because she couldn’t bear to watch her two sisters crying after being chained, the California sheriff’s deputy who interviewed the girl at the time testified on Wednesday.
“She said she couldn’t stay and watch her two sisters chained up and crying,” Riverside County sheriff’s deputy Manuel Campos testified at a preliminary court hearing for parents David and Louise Turpin.
“It was hurting her and depressing her and she couldn’t watch it anymore,” Campos continued. “She said [one sister] was crying, everyone was crying and Mother was yelling at everybody. [The sister] told her Mother called her the Devil.”
At the time of their parents’ January arrest following the 911 call, the Turpin children ranged in age from 2 to 29. The daughter who called 911 was 17 at the time. She climbed out a window of the home and used a disconnected cell phone and according to Campos had been planning the escape for two years.
Capos said the teen “boldly spoke about her love for God, and said she was a big Christian, and when she heard her mother call [her sibling] the Devil, it really bothered her and hurt her a lot.”
According to Campos, the teen had been trying to obtain a cell phone and was finally successful after her brother received a brand new phone, allowing her to get his old one.
‘She Was So Scared She Was Shaking’
Audio of the teen’s 911 call — made just before 6 a.m. on Jan. 14 — was played earlier in the hearing.
“I live in a family of 15 people and our parents are abusive,” the girl told the 911 operator.
“They are abusive,” the girl said. “And two of my sisters are chained up.”
The teen told Campos she had trouble physically dialing 911, he testified: “She couldn’t dial 911, she was so scared she was shaking.”
According to Campos, despite being 17, the teen’s “speech seemed to be a lot younger — the speech of a child. She did have trouble pronouncing words and referred to her parents as Mother and Father. She said she was taught to address them that way because it was more like the Bible days.”
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Campos said the girl’s hair “appeared to be unwashed,” adding that “she appeared to not bathe regularly [and] she had a lot of dirt on her skin.”
“She had an odor emitting from her body of someone who didn’t bathe regularly,” said Campos, adding the teen had a scar on her foot.
Campos detailed some of the abuse allegations the teen made against her parents: The teen alleged she’d been choked, knocked on the head, smacked in the face and had her hair pulled.
“She said Mother would pull her hair and pitch them around the room,” Campos testified.
The teen told Campos than when she was 15, her mom choked her for watching a Justin Bieber video, causing her neck to be sore for the next two days.
David and Louise Turpin each face 12 counts of torture as well as seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult, nine counts of child abuse or neglect and 12 counts of false imprisonment.
David is additionally accused of a lewd act against a child and perjury, for allegedly lying about his children’s schooling. Louise has been charged with felony assault.
They remain in custody in lieu of $12 million bail each after pleading not guilty to all of their charges. One of their attorneys has publicly noted that both are presumed innocent until convicted. Beyond that, the defense has not commented specifically on the case to PEOPLE.