Five most shocking Turpin family secrets, from Barbie cam to beatings in house of horrors as Bible used to justify abuse

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Five most shocking Turpin family secrets, from Barbie cam to beatings in house of horrors as Bible used to justify abuse

DECADES after America learned the news of the Turpin family and the mistreatment a dozen kids went through by their parents David and Louise, American is still reeling after a TV special aired detailing their torture.

David and Louise were given 25 years to life behind bars after a jury found them guilty of hideous abuse and imprisonment of their kids, with 12 of their 13 kids found shackled to their beds in foul-smelling rooms.

Five most shocking Turpin family secrets, from Barbie cam to beatings in house of horrors as Bible used to justify abuse

David and Louise Turpin chained their kids to their beds for months and purposely taunted them with food while the kids were starving

Five most shocking Turpin family secrets, from Barbie cam to beatings in house of horrors as Bible used to justify abuse

The kids were beaten until they bled and were not allowed outside Credit: ABC

But when police arrived at their Perris, California home – about 70 miles from Los Angeles – they were horrified to find out just how badly the Turpins treated their children.

Here are the most shocking revelations of how the poor Turpin children spent their childhood after an exclusive 20/20 interview that aired on November 19.


Two of the Turpin family sisters alleged that their twisted parents “used the Bible” to justify their abuse and claimed they had the right to kill them.

The 13 siblings were rescued in January 2018 from their home after Jordan Turpin escaped and called 911.

Jennifer and Jordan claimed that parents David and Louise used household items such as belts and sticks as tools for punishment.

They alleged that their parents used the Bible to justify the abuse.

Jennifer, 33, said: “They literally used the Bible to explain their behavior to us.

“They loved to point out things in Deuteronomy, saying that, ‘We have the right to do this to you.’ That they even had the right to kill us if we didn’t listen.”

The siblings also alleged that their parents would chain them to their beds and pull on their hair if they misbehaved.

Jordan Turpin made the 911 call in January 2018 but admitted that she almost couldn’t do it.

The sibling, now 21, said: “My whole body was shaking. I couldn't really dial 911. I think it was us coming so close to death so many times. If something happened to me, at least I died trying.”

In the 911 call, which was played during a preview clip of the interview, Jordan is heard saying: “I just ran away from home because I live in a family of 15 and we have abusing parents.”

Jennifer said the “only word” she could use to call their circumstances is “hell.”

“I knew he [was] saying that I was the devil,” she said. “I’m just looking at him like, ‘what did I do?’”


When Jennifer was 18, the evil couple made 10 of the children move into a trailer in a remote part of their property, taking only their youngest two before driving away.

They brought meager groceries once a week, or sometimes fortnightly, leaving the children starving.

“I would try to stretch it out and make sure that we at least had stuff to eat each day of the week,” Jennifer said.

Jordan, who was just six, added: “There was a lot of starving. I would have to figure out how to eat. I would either eat ketchup or mustard or ice.”

Using an old-style flip phone, Louise and David gave Jennifer “instructions”, which included locking rebellious siblings in cages, meant as dog kennels.

“You’re torn, you don’t know what to do,” she said. “I was on the brink of suicide. I wanted to just end it all. All of my pain, everything.”

When the family moved to California, in 2010, neighbors found filth and feces throughout the house and ropes tied to children's beds as if used for restraint.

In her new home, Louise racked up huge credit card debt and hoarded children’s clothes, games and toys which she would never give to the children.

While their parents binged on fast food and taunted them with freshly baked pumpkin pies which they were forbidden to touch, Jennifer says the children ate once a day – getting a peanut butter sandwich, a frozen burrito or chips.


Vanessa Espinoza, the former deputy public guardian for the seven adult Turpins’ cases, was responsible for helping the older children with housing, health care, education, and food support.

However, Joshua Turpin says she “wasn’t helpful” at all, telling him to “just go Google it” when he asked for help.

State records show that Espinoza works as a real estate broker on the side. Now, a petition is calling for her license to be revoked in California.

She did not take part in the 20/20 documentary or comment on the claims.

“They have been victimized again by the system,” said Mike Hestrin, the Riverside County district attorney, told Diane Sawyer on a special 20/20 about the family last week. 

Hestrin prosecuted the Turpins' parents, David and Louise, who are now serving life sentences in different California prisons.

He and his team have remained in contact with the children.

“They are living in squalor,” he said when speaking about the adult children.

“They’re living in crime-ridden neighborhoods. There’s money for their education—they can’t access it.”

Hestrin said it is “unimaginable” that the Turpins have been denied “basic needs.”


Jennifer spoke during the ABC interview about how before the siblings were freed, she was afraid to do anything wrong because her parents would beat her.

“If I did one little thing wrong, I was going to be beaten,” she said. “And not just beat, beat until I bled.

Jordan said that she got the idea to run away after uploading some videos online.

“…When mother and father would leave, that's when I would sneak into the bathroom and make my videos and put them out,” she said. Jordan would record herself singing, usually in the bathroom.

She told Sawyer that a viewer once messaged her and asked a few questions. Their conversation prompted her to realize she should seek help.

Jordan recounted the terrifying decision to call 911 on her parents after she managed to escape.

She explained: “My whole body was shaking and when I was still on the phone I remember I couldn't really dial 911 because … I was trying to dial 911 but I couldn't even get my thumbs to press the buttons because I was shaking so bad.

“But I was trying to calm down so I could do it. And then I finally pressed it and they answered. I literally never talked to someone on the phone.”

Jordan's 911 call, which was aired during the episode, describes some of the horrors that the Turpin children went through.

“They hit us … they throw us across the room, they pull our hair, they yank out our hair,” she said. “My two little sisters right now are chained up.”


Siblings told police that some of the kids were bound with chains and padlocks. Cops found kids shackled to their beds in “dark and foul-smelling surrounds”.

A statement from the Riverside County Sheriff's Office said: “Deputies located what they believed to be 12 children inside the house, but were shocked to discover that seven of them were actually adults.

“The victims appeared to be malnourished and very dirty.”

Neighbors told local media they had no idea there were children in the house, while others said they only saw them at night.

Officers discovered two of the kids in chains shackled to the bed, as Jordan had described, and found a chain dangling from what appears to be a bunk bed.

Investigators would later discover that the children were frequently beaten by their twisted parents until they bled, strangle them and permit them to eat just once per day and shower just once a year.

The evil couple, who would quote the Bible to justify the frequent beatings, left some of the children tied up for months at a time.

The kids lived off bologna and peanut butter sandwiches while their parents gorged themselves on takeaways in front of them.

The children weren’t allowed to exercise, could only speak when spoken to, and were also banned from socializing with each other.

The eldest child, a 29-year-old woman, weighed only 82 pounds – the typical weight of a seven-year-old.

David and Louise tormented the kids by leaving out apple and pumpkin pies that they were forbidden from eating.

They also bought the children toys but refused to let them open them.

David, then 57, and Louise, 50, were arrested and later sentenced to life in prison for the hideous abuse and imprisonment of their kids.

They pleaded guilty to 14 counts including cruelty to an adult-dependent, child cruelty, torture, and false imprisonment.

All of the Turpin siblings spent weeks in hospital before six of the siblings were split up into two different foster homes.

Five most shocking Turpin family secrets, from Barbie cam to beatings in house of horrors as Bible used to justify abuse

Jennifer would plant a camera in a Barbie doll to get evidence of her siblings' abuse Credit: ABC

Five most shocking Turpin family secrets, from Barbie cam to beatings in house of horrors as Bible used to justify abuse

She would capture her parents pulling her and her siblings' hair and beating them Credit: ABC

Five most shocking Turpin family secrets, from Barbie cam to beatings in house of horrors as Bible used to justify abuse

Jennifer made the brazen escape when she spoke to someone online about her childhood growing up Credit: Good Morning America

Turpin family – My whole body was shaking after escaping House of Horrors – we’d come so close to death so many times

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