Two sisters are speaking out about their escape from the horrific imprisonment and abuse they suffered for years at the hands of their parents.
Jordan and Jennifer Turpin are the eldest of David and Louise Turpin’s 13 children. The parents pleaded guilty in 2019 to imprisoning and torturing 12 of their kids ― all but the youngest, who was age 2 at the time ― in what became widely known as a “house of horrors” case.
Their children were starved, beaten, chained up, denied an education and barely bathed. They were trapped inside the family’s Perris, California, house, which looked like a regular suburban home from the outside but was filled with trash and human waste.
“The only word I know to call it is ‘hell,’” Jennifer Turpin, now 33, said in a lengthy and emotional interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer on Friday.
(Watch the full interview, starting with Part One, here.)
It was Jordan Turpin, now 21, who was ultimately able to get out of the house in a daring escape that led to her siblings’ freedom.
“I was always terrified that if I called the cops or tried to escape, I would get caught, and then I knew I would die if I got caught,” Jordan said. “But at the end, when I saw all my younger siblings, I knew that’s what I had to do.”
Jordan, Jennifer and another sister had started to hatch a plan after their mother violently choked Jordan when she caught her watching Justin Bieber music videos on an old smartphone. And the moment to act came when Jordan found out the family would be moving to Oklahoma, and she feared some of her severely malnourished siblings wouldn’t survive the trip.
On Jan. 14, 2018, she propped pillows under a blanket to make it look like she was still in bed, then leapt from the window and headed into the unfamiliar outside world to call for help.
“I didn’t even know about the sidewalks,” she told Sawyer, noting she had been standing in the road. “I had no idea what direction to go. I was so scared.”
With the old phone, she was able to dial 911 and reach police, where she described the squalid living conditions and cruel treatment at home. She also brought a crucial piece of evidence: Jennifer had advised her to bring photos as proof, so Jordan had snapped shots of two of her younger sisters in chains as punishment for taking some of their mother’s candy.
“Once I saw that photo, it really sealed the deal for me,” Deputy Anthony Colace of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, who responded to Jordan’s fateful call, told Sawyer.
David and Louise Turpin were eventually sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole after 25 years.
Since their harrowing ordeal, Jordan has received a high school diploma and is now in college classes. Jennifer has a job at a restaurant and writes Christian pop music.
“My parents took my whole life from me, but now I’m taking my life back,” said Jennifer.