A Perris couple who imprisoned and tortured 12 of their 13 children for years are both slated to be sentenced Friday to 25 years to life in state prison.
David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Ann Turpin, 50, each pleaded guilty in February to six counts of cruelty to a dependent adult, four counts of false imprisonment, three counts of child abuse and one count of torture.
In exchange for their admissions, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office dropped 11 counts of torture, seven counts of false imprisonment and five counts of child abuse against the pair. Additionally, prosecutors dropped eight counts of perjury and one count of lewd acts on a minor against David Turpin, while a single count of assault resulting in great bodily injury was stripped from the complaint against Louise Turpin.
“We needed to determine whether proceeding to trial was worth having the victims testify in this case that has received worldwide media attention. We decided that the victims have endured enough torture and abuse,” District Attorney Mike Hestrin said in announcing the joint plea deals on Feb. 22.
Superior Court Judge Bernard Schwartz is expected to certify the agreements and impose the stipulated sentences. At least one of the elder Turpin children is scheduled to address the court prior to sentencing.
The defendants are being held on $12 million bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.
The couple’s 17-year-old daughter, Jordan, escaped the family’s Muir Woods Road residence on Jan. 14, 2018, and told a 911 dispatcher that her two younger sisters were “chained up to their beds,” shackled so tightly their bodies were bruised, according to testimony from the defendants’ June 20-21 preliminary hearing.
“They chain us up if we do things we’re not supposed to,” the girl said in a conversation with a 911 dispatcher, played in court. “Sometimes, my sisters wake up and start crying (because of the pain).”
Jordan went on to describe how her mother and father denied her and her siblings the opportunity to attend school.
“My mother says we’re private schooled, but we really don’t do school,” the girl said.
She characterized her mother as an authoritarian who “doesn’t like us.”
David Turpin, an aerospace engineer, had registered as the principal of the purported home school program set up through the California Department of Education. But prosecutors said the enterprise was bogus, and he lied on forms filed with the state.
Along with the 911 recording, sheriff’s Deputy Manuel Campos testified regarding his Jan. 14 interview with the victim, recalling how Jordan’s hair was filthy and her skin was caked with dirt. He said that the girl admitted “being scared to death” about fleeing her home, but felt desperate to get out and leaped from an open window.
Campos said the teenager had been planning an escape for two years and was ultimately able to procure a mobile phone discarded by her older brother. She used it to snap pictures of her younger sisters chained to beds.
The lawman said that the victim told him her sisters had been shackled because they were caught by Louise Turpin snatching candy from the kitchen — verboten under the house “rules.”
According to the witness, the girl described a compulsory sleep schedule of 20 hours a day and a middle-of-the-night meal — combination “lunch and dinner” — that consisted of peanut butter sandwiches, chips and microwave-heated burritos.
The girl’s only exercise was pacing back and forth in the room she shared with her two younger sisters, according to the deputy.
He said the filth and stench in the bedroom was so overwhelming that the teen told him she often couldn’t breathe and had to stick her head out the window for relief.
Hestrin said the victims were allowed to shower only once a year.
The siblings were virtually imprisoned, according to testimony, and the only time they were free to leave their assigned quarters was when both parents were out of the house.
D.A.’s office Investigator Wade Walsvick testified that all but one of the victims — the youngest, a now-3-year-old girl — were severely malnourished.
Walsvick testified that when he spoke to the oldest son, then-26-year-old Joshua Turpin, the victim revealed how he and his siblings were locked inside cages if their parents became angry with them. There were alleged beatings with paddles, “hitting on the face, slapping, pushing and being thrown across the room or to the ground,” the witness said.
The children, whose ages range from 3 to 30, are in the care of county Child Protective Services and Adult Protective Services staff. Most of them were hospitalized in January of last year for treatment, but they were later placed in undisclosed residential facilities, according to county officials.
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