The couple at the center of California’s “house of horrors” case — the couple who tortured their 13 children for years, keeping them chained up inside and barring them from bathing — has been sentenced to life in prison. They will be eligible for parole after 25 years, according to NBC.
“Their lives have been permanently altered, and their ability to learn, grow, and thrive,” Judge Bernard Schwartz reportedly said at the sentencing hearing. “To the extent that they do thrive,” he added, “it will be not because of you both, but in spite of you both.”
In February, David and Louise Turpin each pleaded guilty to 14 charges, including — but not limited to — torture, adult abuse, child endangerment, and false imprisonment for having held their children captive inside their own home. According to prosecutors, the couple subjected 12 of their 13 children to “sadistic” treatment, refusing to let them shower more than once a year and allowing them just one meal per day. For the most part, the Turpins kept their kids chained to their beds, and would not unshackle them even to go to the bathroom. Although they occasionally bought treats — toys, pies — they only let the children look at them, never touch. If the kids disobeyed, their parents would reportedly beat, even choke, them.
The Turpins kids never went to the dentist, and their parents let years pass between doctor visits. One child was reportedly permitted to attend a few classes outside the home, with his mother’s eagle-eyed supervision; the rest were “homeschooled,” but still “lacked even basic knowledge of life,” unfamiliar with words like “police officer,” “medication,” and “pill.” With a few very rare exceptions — a trip to Las Vegas, for example, to watch their parents renew their wedding vows — the kids did not leave the house.
That changed in January 2018, when one of the girls, age 17, managed to sneak a cell phone from her parents and break out of their home. She called 911, and told police that the Turpins had been keeping her and her tied up. When officers entered the Turpin house in Perris, California, they found many of the kids chained in “dark and foul-smelling surroundings.” Ranging in age from 2 to 29, the Turpin children looked far younger than their years, emaciated after being effectively starved for so long.
The Turpins initially pleaded not guilty, but changed their tactics to avoid trial, according to NPR.
At sentencing, Louise apologized for the sustained abuse. “I’m sorry for everything I’ve done to hurt my children,” she said, according to CNN. “I love them more than they could ever imagine.” David, meanwhile, said he was sorry “if” he had “ever done anything to cause them harm.”
“My parents took my whole life from me,” one of the two Turpin children who testified to the abuse on Friday, Jane Doe No. 4, said. “But now, I’m taking my life back.”