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How Much Prison Time Did The Turpins Get?

In January 2018, a 17-year-old girl escaped from her family’s home in Perris, California and called 911. She reported that her parents, David and Louise Turpin, had been holding her and her 12 siblings captive and abusing them for years.

When police arrived at the home, they discovered a horrific scene of abuse and neglect. The Turpin children ranged in age from 2 to 29 years old, but all were severely malnourished and living in squalid conditions. Most had been chained to their beds and not allowed to use the toilet. The parents admitted to only allowing the children to shower once a year.

The Turpins would punish the children for minor infractions like washing their hands above the wrist. They were not allowed to play and had very minimal academic education. The children reported being beaten and choked by their parents.

After arresting David and Louise Turpin, the police uncovered even more disturbing evidence of long-term, systematic abuse.

Charges and Sentencing for David and Louise Turpin

In February 2019, David and Louise Turpin pleaded guilty to 14 felony counts. These included:

  • 12 counts of torture
  • 1 count of dependent adult abuse
  • 1 count of child endangerment
  • 6 counts of cruelty to an adult dependent

They were initially charged with additional counts but prosecutors dropped those charges as part of the plea deal.

In April 2019, David and Louise Turpin were sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. This means they will be eligible for parole in 25 years, but may serve life in prison if denied parole repeatedly.

At the sentencing hearing, the children’s lawyers read impact statements describing the horrific abuse. The statements emphasized the lifetime of trauma the children will struggle with.

Quotes from the Sentencing Hearing

“My parents took my whole life from me, but now I am taking my life back.” – One of the Turpin daughters, age 21.

“I cannot describe in words what we went through growing up. Sometimes I still have nightmares of things that had happened, such as my siblings being chained up or getting beaten.” – Turpin son, age 20.

“I love both 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.” – Turpin daughter, age 28.

Details of Abuse and Neglect in the Turpin Household

According to the children’s statements, the sadistic abuse in the Turpin house went far beyond chaining and starvation. The children reported the following types of prolonged abuse:

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Physical Abuse

  • Being beaten, choked, thrown across rooms, and having objects thrown at them.
  • Being chained to beds for weeks or months at a time. Their arms and legs would atrophy.
  • One child had his jaw broken and never received medical treatment.
  • Being denied access to use the bathroom, forcing children to live in their own filth.

Malnutrition and Food Deprivation

  • Being severely calorie restricted, with some children estimating they were only allowed to eat the equivalent of one meal per day.
  • Food was used as a reward – the parents would bake pies and not allow the hungry children to eat any.
  • The children lost muscle mass and bone density due to starvation. Some suffered nerve damage and impaired vision.
  • Pilfering food resulted in severe beatings as punishment.

Lack of Education

  • David Turpin was listed as the principal of a fake private school to avoid legal requirements.
  • The children had no formal instruction and most were entirely illiterate.
  • Louise Turpin would throw away textbooks, calling them “stupid.”
  • No medical care was ever provided, nor was their existence reported to authorities.

Physical Restraints and Extreme Isolation

  • Children were often tied upside down for hours as punishment.
  • The parents nailed bedroom windows shut and set alarms that would go off if a child’s foot touched the floor at night.
  • Routinely denied bathroom access, showers, access to toys, games, TV, or any entertainment.
  • Not permitted to socialize with each other or anyone outside the home.

This severe abuse and neglect occurred consistently for over a decade, beginning when the family lived in Texas and continuing after they moved to California in 2010.

While the Turpin’s actions are considered heinous crimes, experts believe the ability of the children to band together and support each other was key to their survival. Their collective courage to run away and report the abuse finally ended the nightmare.

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Table of Documented Abuse and Criminal Charges

Type of AbuseTime PeriodCriminal Charges
Physical abuse including beating, choking, throwing across rooms2010-2018Torture, child endangerment
Restraining children’s bodies with ropes, chains, padlocks2010-2018Torture, child endangerment
Food deprivation and severe calorie restriction2010-2018Torture
Forcing children to live in filth2010-2018Torture, child endangerment
Lack of medical care for injuries and illnesses2010-2018Torture, child endangerment
No formal education provided2010-2014Torture, child endangerment
Isolation from each other and outside world2010-2018Torture

Life After Escape for the Turpin Children

The adult Turpin children were taken to Corona Regional Medical Center for treatment when first rescued. The 7 minor children were admitted to local hospitals for more intensive treatment.

The Riverside County District Attorney’s office then placed the siblings across two foster homes, keeping the juveniles together and the adults together. Their foster parents and hospital staff worked to slowly introduce food in a healthy way and provide medical care to help them gain weight and strength.

The adult siblings have all moved into independent living. The minors have been adopted and continue receiving intensive counseling and tutoring to make up for their lost education. Sources report that some of the younger Turpins are now attending public school.

While their healings process will be lifelong, the Turpin children say they are extremely grateful for their freedom. They hope their story can help prevent other child abuse cases.

The public has donated over $600,000 to a fund for the siblings to access medical treatment, education, housing, and other services they were denied. Their lawyers commend their resilience moving forward after surviving such trauma.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Turpin Case

How did no one know about the abuse sooner?

The Turpins went to great lengths to hide the abuse from the outside world. They kept the children out of school and isolated from neighbors and relatives. The house itself looked normal and unassuming from the outside.

With David Turpin listed as the principal of a fake private school, their lack of formal education didn’t raise red flags. The children report that if anyone asked about bruises, their parents forced them to say they were homeschooled and fell down while playing. Tragically, no one was able to intervene and stop the abuse sooner.

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What was the role of each parent in the abuse?

Louise Turpin was physically abusive toward the children, choking and beating them. She was in charge of doling out food to keep them malnourished. David Turpin was in charge of the children’s imprisonment, chaining and restraining them for long periods of time as punishment. The children reported both parents participated in abuse together, showing a united front.

How are the Turpin children doing now after being freed?

The Turpin children are reportedly doing remarkably well given the trauma they endured. The adult siblings are enjoying their newfound independence. The younger children in foster care are improving both physically and mentally after having food, healthcare, and nurturing support. However, the effects of malnourishment, lack of education, and psychological abuse will likely last a lifetime. Their recovery process will have challenges.

Did the Turpins have a history of abuse or mental illness?

Neither David or Louise Turpin had a criminal record prior to their arrests. But David Turpin’s parents have publicly stated that he exhibited disturbing behavior and abuse towards animals as early as age 5. Doctors who analyzed the Turpins after their arrests did not find them to be mentally ill or incompetent enough to not stand trial. Their acts appear to have been intentional abuse, not the result of illness.

Could the Turpins ever get released – what would parole eligibility look like?

The Turpins were sentenced to 25 years to life, meaning they will first be eligible for parole in 25 years from their 2019 sentencing date. That would be 2044, when David Turpin is 81 years old and Louise Turpin is 75. At their parole hearings, they will have to prove they are no longer a danger to society to be released. Given the severity of their crimes, early parole seems unlikely. But if granted parole, they would be monitored on supervised release for at least 5 years.


The Turpin family abuse case stands as one of the most shocking discoveries of child maltreatment in recent history. The systematic starvation, imprisonment, and torture the children endured is heartbreaking. While the parents’ life sentences can’t undo the trauma, hopefully the public outrage over this case sends a message that child abuse will be punished to the full extent of the law.

Despite the odds, the incredible courage, resilience, and solidarity of the Turpin children led to their eventual freedom. Through years of supportive care, these survivors now have hope for a brighter future ahead. Their resilience remains an inspiration, as does the work of the first responders who ended the abuse by listening and taking action when the 17-year-old daughter called 911. This case underscores the importance of protecting society’s most vulnerable.

Prison Inside Team

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