RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif — The parents who held their 13 children captive inside their California home pleaded guilty to multiple charges, including torture, on Friday, prosecutors said.
David and Louise Turpin each pleaded guilty to 14 charges of torture, adult abuse, child endangerment, false imprisonment and more. They face 25 years to life in prison, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office said.
Louise Turpin was seen wiping away tears as the judge read the charges.
The couple were arrested in January 2018 after police discovered their 13 children — seven of whom are adults — being held captive in a filthy home in Perris.
Some of the siblings, who ranged in age from 2 to 29, had been shackled to beds with chains and padlocks.
The terrible living conditions led one of them, a 17-year-old girl, to flee through a window before she called police on a deactivated cellphone she found in the house. She had planned her escape for more than two years.
“This is among the worst, most aggravated child abuse cases I have ever seen,” District Attorney Mike Hestrin said. He said he believes the pleas will result in life sentences. Had the case gone to trial, Hestrin said, some of the victims would have been called to testify.
David Macher, an attorney for David Turpin, declined to comment until sentencing.
An attorney for Louise Turpin did not immediately respond to CNN’s requests for comment.
Children were tied up and starved
In a news conference last year, Hestrin painted a bleak picture of life inside the Turpin home, which officials had described as “dark and foul-smelling.”
The children were often tied up for “weeks or even months at a time,” Hestrin told reporters.
The victims had told investigators the practice initially began as punishment. They would be tied up with ropes, but when one victim, who was hogtied, escaped, the Turpins turned to chains and padlocks, Hestrin said.
The children were also kept isolated and denied showers, medical care and food. None of them had seen a doctor in more than four years, and none of them had ever been to the dentist.
As a result of their isolation, Hestrin said that the children “lack a basic knowledge of life.”
Adult children ‘view themselves as survivors’
Corona Regional Medical Center CEO Mark Uffer, who played music with the adult children during their two months there, said the parents’ guilty pleas were a “blessing” to the children.
“They are not going to have to be put on a witness stand and dissected by some defense attorney. Why put they through more torture?”
Uffer said he hasn’t seen the children since they left the center last year, but an attorney for the adult Turpin children, Jack Osborn, told CNN, “Our clients are relieved that there will not be a trial and they are happy the district attorney was able to achieve this result.”
The adult children are doing “very well,” Osborn said.
“They have been living together, getting their education and moving their lives forward. They are all extremely bright, incredibly strong and resilient. They have been supportive of each other. ”
He added, “They view themselves as survivors.”