Written by Alleah

Modified & Updated: 30 May 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith

Turpin family facts

When we hear about stories of abuse and domestic violence, our hearts go out to the victims and what they had to endure. But there’s no way that we can fully fathom how a Californian couple, David and Louise, could starve, torture, imprison, and abuse all of their 13 children. In society, we’d expect parents to protect their kids from danger. But what happens to them when it’s their parents doing them harm? As for the Turpin kids, they had to go through years of inhumane conditions in the hands of their parents. It’s hard to grasp how a child’s protector could be their tormentor. But in these Turpin family facts, get to know more about the details of the children’s ordeal.

If you are uncomfortable or triggered by mentions of violence and abuse, please proceed with caution.

  1. The Turpin family secret got known to the public after the escape of their 17- year old daughter in January 2018.
  2. There are 13 children in the Turpin family.
  3. The parents of the Turpin family had a 25 years to life sentence for abusing their kids for years.
  4. The siblings were from age 2-29 years old when the Turpin family children got rescued by authorities.
  5. Although known as the Turpin family children, seven out of all 13 are already adults.
  1. The Turpin family’s home was in Perris, California.
  2. The children of the Turpin family had a very abusive and controlling childhood.
  3. The Turpin family parents, David and Louise, locked and isolated their kids from the world.
  4. Neighbors of the Turpin family rarely saw the kids come out and when they do, they noticed how pale they were.
  5. The eldest child of the Turpin family was only 82 pounds and had stagnant muscle growth because she was so underfed.
  6. The Turpin family children were also chained to their beds.
  7. Their daughter ran and escaped through the window and that’s the beginning of the rescue of the other children of the Turpin family.
  8. Authorities say that it will be a long road to physical and mental recovery for the Turpin family children but at least they are now in safe hands.
  9. The matriarch of the Turpin family was also sexually abused when she was a kid.
  10. The police found it shocking that the head of the Turpin family could do horrible things since he was known as kind and quiet.
  1. According to sources, the children of the Turpin family were only allowed two showers every year and fed at least once a day.
  2. The media dubbed the Turpin family home as the “House of Horrors” because of all the shocking discovery of abuse and torture that took place there.
  3. Some of the Turpin family children did not know what police or medicine was when they got out from years of their confinement.
  4. Police thought that one of the Turpin family children was only 13 years old even though she was already 29 because of extreme malnourishment.
  5. Feces were visible on carpets and the floor since the Turpin family children had limited access to the bathroom.
Table of Contents

Hospital members and staff teared up when they saw the condition of the Turpin children. 

The escape of one of the siblings led to the freedom of the rest of the Turpin children. They got sent to the hospital right away for evaluation and physicals. The medical staff thought that their patients were children and were in disbelief when they found out that some were already adults.

According to sources, all 13 had severe cases of developmental issues. Some of the nurses and doctors teared up as they can only imagine what the children have been through. One of the staff even said that in all their years, they have never seen anything as horrible as the abuse that the Turpin children went through.

Doctors that examined the children said that malnutrition brought so much damage to the kids. 

Doctors at the hospital said that the magnitude of the state that the siblings have has been a result of years of malnutrition. They even said that the children were underfed ever since they were babies. Doctors say that the kind of issues that the children have does not happen over six to 12 months, it happened for years.

Each of the children had muscle atrophy and pale skin. This led to a serious case of physical and cognitive development. The Turpin family children are already all in stable condition a day after they got to the hospital for examination. Of course, they still needed a few months of treatment and evaluation but doctors say that it’s one step closer to a life of healing that they deserve.

The Turpin family children are in one place while they undergo recovery.

Reports say that after they got hospital clearance, they were all in one place for their cognitive, physical, medical, and psychiatric evaluations. The goal is to keep them in one unit for them to at least feel a safe family environment whilst they undergo everything. Authorities hope that getting all the Turpin siblings in one place will allow them to heal and live happier and healthier lives.

Since some of the children are already adults, the hospital is now working with the adult protective services. But they are not in a rush to push anyone out of the door yet given that they understand it might take some time for the children to adjust.

Police found the children of the Turpin family in a truly horrible condition during their rescue.

We all know what abuse means but the case of the Turpin’s was on a whole new level. Aside from only having one meal a day and 2 scheduled showers every year, the living conditions of the children were unacceptable. When police got to their house, the children were among their own feces and urine. The parents managed to unchain their kids before police arrived but one of the kids was still tied to the bed. Investigators say that this was David and Louise’s way of punishing their kids.

They would use cloth or rope to tie their children up without even acknowledging their needs. After the escape of their 17-year old daughter, the Turpin parents began using padlocks and chains for extra security. According to the County District Attorney, the punishment would go one for weeks and even months. It would often include strangulation and frequent beatings.

All the kids of the Turpin family were homeschooled. 

girls, laptop
Source: Unsplash

The Turpin family did not always live at their current house in Perris, California. Their residence was first in Murrieta, California and then they moved to Texas. They had a farm south of Fort Worth which was at Rio Vista. When it went into foreclosure, they moved to Perris and that’s the family home where the children got rescued.

In all those years, the children did not have a taste of what it’s like to be outside and be with other kids. All the kids who were bound to go to school got homeschooled. Records even say that the kids’ father was the headmaster of Sandcastle Day School which was exclusive for their kids.

The Turpin family were like vampires according to neighbors.

Neighbors would recall that they would see the kids marching back and forth on the second story of their house at night. They said that during this time, the lights were on and they will observe shadows of the kids pacing back and forth for hours. Their neighbors even thought they were some kind of a cult. One of them even said that their family was like vampires – very pale looking and only comes out at night.

Reporters also got information that in the rare instances that the family comes out, all of them were like clones. The children spoke in a monotonous way and sounded more like a robot with controls. According to one of the neighbors, it saddens them to know that not one of the kids called out for their help knowing that they were just across the street.

The parents of the Turpin family face a series of cases. 

It’s hard to understand how David and Louise could do such horrible things to their kids. But because of what they did, they are facing multiple counts of child endangerment and torture. Each will have 10 counts of felony for child endangerment and nine counts of torture. Before the trial, they also have an array of charges for false imprisonment, torture, duress, and lewd act by force to a child. In February 2019, they both plead guilty to false imprisonment and torture and got a sentence of 25 years to life.

The Turpin family led a life of misery because the mom of the children also had a toxic childhood.

Louise’s sister, Teresa, said that her sister was a good girl in the family. Louise does not smoke or drink. And although the news of the abuse came as a shock for her, she told authorities that her sister had a rough childhood, too. According to Teresa Robinette, their mom would regularly “rent” them to a wealthy pedophile who would abuse them regularly. When they begged their mom not to send them to the mam, their mom would simply say that she needs to feed and clothe them so they had to do it.

This traumatic experience might have led to the mental and psychological state of her sister’s mind. She said that she never thought her sister could do it but what they went through as a kid was not an excuse to do it to her own children. It’s truly heartbreaking what the Turpin family had to endure because of this.

There is a book about the life of the Turpin family matriarch.

Another sister of Louise, Elizabeth Flores, wrote a book about their life as kids, “Sisters of Secrets.” Her book describes rough times at school and an unhappy home with their parents always fighting. She was able to spill some tea about the life of her sister, Louise. Elizabeth corroborated the claims of their sister, Teresa, that they were sexually abused as kids. The book paints a complete picture and a deeper understanding as to how a mother could abuse her children so much. Chapters of the book have allegations that Louise was practicing witchcraft, was a gambling addict, was a severe alcoholic, and had a weird obsession with snakes.

According to her book, her sister was in her 40’s when it got really bad. Louise was not only doing all those other things but she was starting to act vulgar in MySpace and attends sex practices and orgies. However, it was never on her radar that her sister could have child endangerment issues.

The father of the Turpin family had a promising childhood.

papers, hands, engineering
Source: Unsplash

One of the least known facts about the Turpin family is that the father of the Turpin children was a smart man. Friends and other family members of David Turpin were in shock when they found out about the news. They said that they did not expect that David and his wife could do such a thing. He was an alumnus at Virginia Tech University where he got his degree in Computer Engineering.

Before his retirement in 2012, he had a high-level position with General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin. Both are two of the world’s biggest defense companies and it’s an impressive achievement to work there- let alone handle a higher position. David’s friends and colleagues know him as a homebody and somewhat nerdy.

To sum it up, David was successful professionally and academically that’s why it’s hard for those who know him to grasp the truth. However, investigators found that in 2011, David filed for bankruptcy over a $240,000 debt for a credit card company.

The Turpin family began to grow after their parents got married in 1984.

David and Louise eloped when they were young. Louise was 16 and still in high school when 24-year old David came to her school and signed her out. The young couple went to Texas before their parents could file a complaint. When Louise’s parents found out, they wanted her to come back so that she and David could marry properly. Her father was a preacher and according to sources, the only concern that his father had was that she could have a proper church ceremony. Louise’s sisters said that their Mom knew that David and her sister were dating and she allowed it. But their father did not know and they dated behind his back. Eventually, they returned to Princeton and got married in 1984.

Investigators said that the Turpin family slept all day and was awake at night. 

Investigation reports show that the family had a bizarre lifestyle. The children said that they typically go to sleep at around 4:00- 5:00 in the morning. Apart from the inhumane shower and bathroom benefits that the kids get, the kids were also intentionally deprived of their rights. All of the kids were born in a hospital. After their birth, they never saw a doctor again- even dentists. Although their parents would buy them toys, the couple would not allow them to play with them or take them out of the packagings.

Whenever their mom, Louise, would make pumpkin pies, the kids would only watch without getting a taste. The kids would go hungry even though there’s food on the table and that’s because their parents intentionally did that to them. Reports did not disclose as to why the couple did these things to their kids but according to sources, the beating and the checking were punishments for offenses like “talking too loud or “playing with water.”

Relatives of the Turpin family find the truth hard to believe.

Media went to the house of 81-year old Betty Turpin, David’s mom, to get an interview. She said that on the times when her grandkids come to visit her, they all had good relationships. According to her, they were always so polite and caring for each other that she did not notice anything odd.

Betty described her grandkids as polite and sweet. She also did not find anything odd with the actions of her son and daughter-in-law. Her son told her that he had so many kids because it was God’s will. David also said that he was still a Pentecostal Christian even though he’s not with any church in California. David’s mom said that she thought that the family his son built as a model Christian family. The Turpin family is proof that our assumptions about certain things may just be wrong.

Police found hundreds of journals at the Turpin family home.

Despite the strict and unjust rules at home, there was one thing that the kids were free to do. They can write in their journals. Police found hundreds of these and they said that this will be very strong evidence. It will also be a key to find out what happened in that house.

Investigators are still trying to figure out if religion has anything to do with the torture and abuse. The police were trying to obtain official statements from the adults. And while the minors of the Turpin family were cooperative and polite, they were not able to give any statements.

The case of the Turpin family sparked awareness about abuse and neglect.

hands, notebooks
Source: Unsplash

There is no way that we can understand how a parent can imprison and starve their kids. But it’s a present reality among all other households in the US. Because of the Turpin case, experts are now trying to understand the prevalence of this problem in society. Their studies show that what happened to the Turpin family may also be happening for other families. Studies also show that 71.8% of all neglect and child abuse cases were from the hands of the victim’s parents. Results show that risk factors on why parents could do such is domestic violence as well as drug and alcohol abuse.

The children of the Turpin family spoke to the public about their abuse.

Louise was 50 while David was 57 when they were facing charges for abuse and torture of their kids. During the sentencing, the couple was openly weeping when their children spoke to the public for the first time. The victim’s statements were all about their suffering and condition in the hands of their parents.

However, they were also asking the judge to lower the sentence. And that’s because they still love their parents regardless of what happened. Louise also had the chance to read hers. She was apologizing and crying for the years of abuse that she inflicted on her kids. David’s attorney read his part because he was overcome with emotion.

The Turpin family house was at an auction for $310K.

On December 29, 2018, the Turpin’s family home was at an online auction and got sold for $310,360. The house was at 2,386 square feet with 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. It was on a foreclosure sale with Riverside County appraising the property. There’s no information about the new owner of the Turpin family house at 160 Muir Woods Rd.

But according to sources, the new owners still kept a photo of the house’s original state. Important as they seem, the details online about the house was not complete. It did not include the crimes and the history of the old owners.

Prosecutors call the case of the Turpin family the worst in his whole career.

The judge of the Turpin case said that what the parents did was inhuman, selfish, and cruel. But even the prosecutors had something to say. They said that it was the worst child abuse and neglect case they have ever encountered in their entire career. Because of the trauma, the decision was to make sure that the kids would not testify in court. Authorities say that the victims already went through enough abuse and torture. For them to be receiving worldwide attention for something that they can only wish to forget is too much.

You can watch a documentary about the Turpin family online.

netflix, remote
Source: Pixabay

Soledad O’Brien, a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist, hosts the documentary about the Turpin family. The film will give the viewers a deeper look at the story of Louise, David, and their 13 children. Soledad traces the past and present experience of the family to eventually shed light on some unanswered. Viewers will also have front-seat access to the family’s financial woes, struggles, and issues. Watch it on Youtube or from other video streaming websites.

The children of the Turpin family are now rebuilding their lives 2 years after their rescue.

After their rescue in 2018, the Turpin children are now trying to build happy lives the best way they could. District Attorney Kevin Beecham of Riverside County said that the children are now making positive progress. Sources reveal that most of the adult children are now living on their own. Their lawyer said that they’re trying to be independent and are taking care of their physical and mental health.

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