‘House of horrors’ parents admit torture and abuse charges

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A couple who shackled some of their 13 children to beds and starved them have pleaded guilty to torture and abuse.

David and Louise Turpin, from California, were arrested in January 2018 when their 17-year-old daughter called police after managing to escape from the “house of horrors” in Perris.

The parents have now pleaded guilty to 14 counts including abusing minor and adult children and imprisoning them in their house.

Riverside County district attorney Mike Hestrin said David, 57 and Louise, 50, will face 25 years in prison.

He said the guilty pleas, which are part of a deal, were important and ensured the children would not have to testify.

Their children, who ranged in age from two to 29, were severely underweight and had not bathed for months.

The house, which appeared neatly kept from the outside, is understood to have smelt of human waste.

Investigators said some of the children had stunted growth and wasted muscles, and told officers they had been beaten, starved and put in cages.

In a recording of an emergency call played to the court, the girl who managed to escape told police two of her younger sisters and a brother were chained to the beds and said she could not take it any longer.

She said: “They will wake up at night and they will start crying and they wanted me to call somebody.

“I wanted to call y’all so y’all can help my sisters.”

The 13 Turpin children had lived in such isolation that some of them did not know what the role of police was when they arrived to help them.

When police arrived, two girls, aged 11 and 14, had been released from their shackles but a 22-year-old man remained chained up.

He said he and his siblings had been suspected of stealing food and being disrespectful, according to a detective in court.

He said he had been tied up with ropes at first but was restrained with increasingly larger chains over a period of six years because he’d learned to wriggle free.

Authorities said the children were deprived of food, as well as toys and games, and were allowed to do little except write in journals.

One investigator testified that some of them suffered severe malnutrition and muscle wasting, saying one 11-year-old girl had arms the size of an infant.

The 17-year-old had difficulty pronouncing some words and spoke like a much younger child.

The children were rarely allowed outside but had been out for Halloween. The Turpins had taken the children to Disneyland and Las Vegas, and pictures showed the couple getting married with their children around them.

They spent much of their time locked in their rooms, allowed limited time out for meals and to go to the toilet.

David Turpin’s parents, James and Betty Turpin who lived in West Virginia, have previously said the couple were deeply religious and made the children memorise Bible verses.

All the children were taken to hospital when they were discovered, and Riverside County authorities have taken temporary conservatorship over the adults. The children are in child protection agencies.

The parents will be sentenced on 19 April.

(c) Sky News 2019: ‘House of horrors’ parents admit torture and abuse charges

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