Abused teen escapes, helps rescue 12 siblings from depraved torture by their parents

Abused teen escapes, helps rescue 12 siblings from depraved torture by their parents

After suffering years of abuse, a teen managed to escape. Learn more about the California torture house case that's been shocking the world.

After years of unimaginable abuse, a teenager bravely escaped the home where she and her 12 siblings, had been tortured by their own parents. It was a plan two years in the making. After grabbing a cellphone from the ‘California torture house,’ she called 911 and alerted authorities.

“This is severe, emotional, physical abuse… This is depraved conduct,” Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin lamented to CNN.

The prosecutor describes the case as one of the worst displays of “human depravity” he has encountered.

He also recounted how “what started out as neglect” soon turned into horrifyingly “severe, pervasive, and prolonged abuse.”

California Torture House: Couple subjected their 13 children to horrific abuse

california torture house

Image source: Riverside County Sheriff’s Department

David Turpin, 56 and Louise Turpin, 49 first started “punishing” their children, aged two to 29, by tying them up with ropes or shackles. They would leave them bound for weeks up to months at a time.

The Turpins would allegedly beat and choke their children frequently.  

They would also deprive their kids of food, only allowing them one meal per day. They would cruelly present them with fresh pies they weren’t allowed to eat.

Because of this brutal treatment, the children were severely malnourished. One 12-year-old’s weight was typical of an average seven-year-old.

They were allowed to shower just once a year. 

In the past four years, they had not been to the doctor or dentist. The children and young adults didn’t even know basic information about daily living. They could not even identify what a police officer looked like.

california torture house

Image source: Mike Blake/Reuters

Neighbours around the ‘California torture house’ noticed strange behaviour

The family had been living in Perris, California since 2014. But according to reports, the abuse began when they were still living in Texas. 

The neighbours described the couple and the homeschooled kids as aloof. 

Neighbours described the kids as frail and malnourished, and “scared to death.” The children would freeze whenever anyone would try to talk to them.  Despite the children’s odd behaviour, neighbours didn’t feel like it was worrying enough to call the police.

The court has charged the Turpins with:

  • 12 counts of torture
  • 1 lewd act against a child
  • 7 counts of abuse against a dependent adult
  • 6 counts of child abuse/neglect
  • 12 counts of false imprisonment

They have plead not guilty. They will be sentenced to 94 years to life imprisonment if they are eventually found guilty. 

The 13 siblings were immediately brought to the hospital after they were rescued. Aside from cognitive impairments, they suffered nerve damage because of  “extreme and prolonged physical abuse,” District Attorney Hestrin tells the New York Times.

Authorities assured the public that they are now caring for the abused siblings and ensuring their safety.

california torture house

Image source: Facebook

Where to report suspected child abuse in Singapore

As this terrible ‘California torture house’ case shows, abusers can appear like ordinary citizens who can be occasionally “odd and reclusive.” Because of this, they often go unnoticed for years.

If you have the slightest suspicion that a neighbour or relative is engaging in child abuse, call the Child Protective Service Helpline at 1800-777 0000.

You can also seek help from the following Child Protection Specialist Centres:

[email protected] Yue

6819 9170

[email protected]

Monday-Friday, 9.30am-5.30pm

Big Love Child Protection Specialist Centre

6445 0400

[email protected]

Monday-Friday, 9.00am-6.00pm


6266 0171

[email protected]

Monday-Friday, 9.00am-1.00pm; 2.00pm-6.00pm

Or do not hesitate to call the Police Divisional HQ or the Neighbourhood Police Post nearest your home.

Sources: The New York Times, CNN, BBC

READ THIS ALSO: Telltale signs that an adult is indulging in child sexual abuse

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Written by

Bianchi Mendoza

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