RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CN) – A husband and wife who chained, tortured and starved their children for several years in their suburban Southern California home were sentenced to 25 years to life in prison Friday, but not before hearing their children still pray for them.
Louise and David Turpin sobbed in court and apologized to the court and their 12 children after Riverside County Superior Court Judge Bernard Schwartz sentenced them. The couple had agreed to plead guilty in February.
Schwartz told the couple “children are indeed a gift” not just to their parents and families but to society.
“The selfish, cruel and inhuman treatment of your own children has deprived them, your family, your friends and society – and especially both of you – of those gifts,” Schwartz said.
The couple’s son Joshua, 27, read a statement from his sister Jessica: “I love both of my parents so much. Although it might not have been the best way to raise us, I’m glad that they did. I just want to thank them for teaching us about God and faith.”
Four of the Turpin children spoke to their parents at the sentencing. Two read statements in court and two others had their messages read on their behalf.
A daughter identified as Jane Doe Number 4, said, “My parents took my whole life from me, but I’m taking my life back. I’m living independently. I believe everything happens for a reason.”
Joshua Turpin read another note from his sister Maya, whose age was not given.
“I cannot describe in words what we went through growing up. Sometimes I still have nightmares of the things that happened such as my siblings being chained up or being beaten. But that is the past and this is now,” Maya wrote. “I love my parents and have forgiven them for a lot of the things they did to us.”
Another note from Joy Turpin, 21 read:
“Through the years, things become more and more overwhelming but they kept trust God. I remember our mother, sitting in her recliner crying she don’t know what to do. She didn’t want to use rope or chain but she was afraid her children were taking in too much sugar and caffeine,” Joy wrote.
“They didn’t know what else to do. I believe our parents feared if they asked for help they would lose their children. Our parents didn’t know we were malnourished.”
Both David and Louise also addressed the court and their children.
“I’m sorry if I’ve ever done anything to cause them harm,” said David Turpin, 57. “I’m glad we were able to close this case without having my children testify.”
Louise Turpin said she loves her children “more than they could ever imagine” and said she was sorry for everything.
Friday’s sentencing ends a case that came to light in January 2018, when the Turpins’ 17-year-old daughter slipped out of a window of the family’s Perris, California, home and asked a neighbor to call 911.
Investigators found the children were raised on an inverted sleep schedule, forced to stay awake all night, and neighbors said they heard the Turpin family marching around their family home late into the morning.
There was little food available to the children while David and Louise Turpin ate well. Two female Maltese-mix dogs were also well taken care of despite the Turpin children being forced to skip meals, prosecutors said.
Water was another luxury, with the Turpin parents telling the children were told to “stop playing” when they tried to wash their hands or take showers.
Many of the children, who have remained anonymous throughout the court proceedings, were secluded from the rest of the world. David Turpin – who previously worked at both Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman as an engineer – falsified documents to show the children were home-schooled.
One of the children attended a local community college, accompanied by his mother who would wait outside the classroom.
Photos of the family at a theme park with matching shirts have been circulated with the children’s faces blurred, the Turpin parents surrounded by the family they hogtied and chained to their beds.