15 Shocking Details Jordan Turpin — A Teen Who Was Held Captive For 17 Years Of Her Life — Revealed In A Recent Interview

·3 min read

This post contains mentions of child abuse and sexual assault.

In January 2018, teenager Jordan Turpin escaped her abusive home in the middle of the night, called the police, and saved her 12 siblings who had been held captive by their parents for almost 30 years.

A police car parked in front of the Turpin house

The children had been starved, beaten, and kept inside by their parents David and Louise Turpin.

Frederic J. Brown / AFP via Getty Images

Recently, Jordan Turpin (the sibling who made the call to police) and her older sister Jennifer sat down with Diane Sawyer on ABC's 20/20 to talk about their disturbing childhood and miraculous escape.

The Turpin sisters sitting together on a couch during the interview

Here were some of the most shocking details the sisters shared:

ABC

1.Until the night she called 911, Jordan Turpin had never talked to anyone on a phone before.

"I was trying to dial 911, but I couldn't even get my thumb to press the buttons because I was shaking so bad," she remembered.

2.Before meeting Deputy Anthony Colace who came to see her that night, Jordan had also never spoken to a stranger before.

3.Once she escaped, Jordan was terrified of being caught by her parents because "they wouldn't care if they knew police were coming. They would just kill [her] right then and there."

Jordan Turpin talking to the deputy while on the sidewalk
ABC

4.One time, Jordan was caught watching videos online and she was choked against the bed as punishment. "I thought I was going to die," she said.

5.The family "lived in filth," to the point where Jordan would sometimes wake up unable to breathe. The children also never took baths.

A picture of the filthy stairs and floors covered in trash and hoarded goods
ABC

6.The parents would buy tons of new children's clothing and toys, which remained unused, while the kids would be dressed in the same filthy outfits.

A brand new My Little Pony toy in a box full of stuff

"They would buy literally so many expensive clothes and toys and stuff that they wasn't ever going to use," Jennifer explained. "About a hundred different collectors' Monopolies and stuff like that."

ABC

7.The Turpin's mother, Louise, was just 16 when she got married. The couple was deeply embedded in the Pentecostal Church community. Early on, they told people God has called on them to have as many children as they can.

The Turpins' wedding photo

After the arrest, Louise's sisters revealed that she had been sexually assaulted by a family member throughout her childhood.

ABC

8.Jordan had photos of her sisters chained up on her phone and used them to convince the police officer that her story was true.

Two of the Turpin children wearing chains
ABC News

9.When the children were taken to the hospital, doctors noticed that they were so emaciated they had "difficulty in walking," "stunted height," "heart damage from a lack of nutrients," and more.

The whole Turpin family wearing matching t-shirts
ABC

10.For years, the children were given just leaves, grass, ketchup, mustard, and ice cubes to eat while living in a trailer by themselves.

11.The parents frequently used the bible to justify their abuse to the children.

Jennifer said they told the children that they even "had the right to kill [them]" if they didn't listen.

12.The abuse included being thrown across the room, pushed down the stairs, being beaten with a belt or tent stick, and being put in dog kennels with padlocks.

13.The eldest Turpin child, Jennifer, went to school up until third grade, but none of the other children ever went to school.

Pictures of Jennifer as a child, a teenager, and now as a 33-year-old adult

Instead, the parents registered to home school the children. The kids never received a proper education at home.

ABC

14.Jordan has a unique vocabulary and speech pattern and had never heard of words like "medication" or "injuries" before.

15.Jordan felt inspired to make an escape after secretly watching Justin Bieber videos on her brother's smartphone. The videos opened her eyes to how other kids actually live.

Justin Bieber singing in the music video for Baby

"I started realizing that there was a different world out there," Jordan recalled. "I was always like, 'I wanna be out there. I wanna be like that. I wanna experience that. I wanna do that.'"

Island Records / Justin Bieber / Via youtu.be

The full interview is now available to watch on Hulu and on ABC's website.