Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 August 2019

US couple who abused and chained up their children to be jailed for life

David Turpin and his wife Louise admitted cruelty after abusing and torturing 12 of their children

David Turpin, who pleaded guilty with his wife Louise to 14 felony counts for the abuse over several decades of their children. AFP 
David Turpin, who pleaded guilty with his wife Louise to 14 felony counts for the abuse over several decades of their children. AFP 

A US couple have been sentenced to life in prison for the severe abuse and neglect of 12 of their children.

David Allen Turpin, 57, and his wife Louise Anna Turpin, 50, were jailed for at least 25 years on Friday after admitting imprisoning and torturing 12 of their 13 children in a grisly "House of Horrors" case that shocked the world.

The pair had pleaded guilty to 14 felony counts - including cruelty, false imprisonment, child abuse and torture of their children aged three to 30.

In an emotionally wrenching hearing, several of the children professed continued love for their parents.

"I never intended for any harm to come to my children," David Turpin told the court in the city of Riverside, Los Angeles.

The case came to light last year when one of the children escaped through a window from the couple's home and called the emergency services.

According to excerpts of the call released during court proceedings, she told the dispatcher that two of her siblings were chained to their beds so tightly that their skin was bruised and she struggled to tell the operator the home address.

"I've never been out. I don't go out much," the teen said in the call.

She told responding officers that the house was so dirty she couldn't breathe and that she and her siblings never took baths.

"They chain us up if we do things we're not supposed to," she said. "Sometimes, my sisters wake up and start crying (because of the pain)."

An officer who interviewed the teen after her escape said she was so emaciated that he first thought she was a child.

He said the girl described a routine in which the children were forced to sleep 20 hours a day and in the middle of the night ate a combination of lunch and dinner that most often consisted of peanut butter sandwiches, chips and microwaved food.

One of the older children also told investigators that the couple would lock him and his siblings in cages as punishment and beat them with paddles.

In court, their mother Louise Turpin spoke for herself, saying, "I'm sorry for everything I've done to hurt my children. I love my children so much. ... I only want the best for them."

Since their rescue, the children have been in the care of child and adult protective services.

The Turpins moved from Texas to California in 2010.

Investigators have said it is unclear what prompted the abuse.

Under California law, both will be eligible for parole in 25 years because of their age.

"The defendants ruined lives, so I think it's just and fair that the sentence be equivalent to first-degree murder," District Attorney Mike Hestrin said at the time of the plea.

Updated: April 19, 2019 10:28 PM

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