California couple who held 13 kids captive face sentencing in "house of horrors" case

/ CBS/AP

911 call reveals alleged abuse

The California couple who held their 13 children captive for years in a horrific child abuse case will be sentenced Friday. David and Louise Turpin face 25 years to life in prison.

The "house of horrors" case shocked the country in January 2018 after a 17-year-old girl jumped out a window from the filthy home where she lived in isolation with her parents and 12 siblings. The girl didn't know what month it was or what the word medication meant, but knew enough to punch the digits 9-1-1 into a barely workable cellphone and then began describing years of abuse to a police dispatcher.

The couple pleaded guilty in Riverside County Superior Court in February to torture and other abuse and neglect so severe it stunted their children's growth, led to muscle wasting and left two of the girls unable to bear children.

Louise and David Turpin at a preliminary hearing June 20, 2018 CBS LA reporter Nicole Comstock via Twitter

Before the 17-year-old escaped from the home in a middle-class section of the city of Perris, about 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles, the Turpins had lived largely out of view.

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David Turpin, 57, had been an engineer for Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. Louise Turpin, 50, was listed as a housewife in a 2011 bankruptcy filing.

The exterior of their home appeared neatly kept and neighbors rarely saw the kids outside the home.

When deputies arrived, they were shocked by what they discovered. A 22-year-old son was chained to a bed and two girls had just been set free from their shackles. The house was covered in filth and the stench of human waste was overwhelming.

Deputies testified that the children said they were only allowed to shower once a year. They were mainly kept in their rooms except for meals, which had been reduced to one per day, a combination of lunch and dinner.

California teen posted secret videos from "house of horrors"

The Turpin offspring weren't allowed to play like normal children. Other than an occasional family trip to Las Vegas or Disneyland, they rarely left the home. They slept during the day and were active a few hours at night.

Although the couple filed paperwork with the state to homeschool their children, learning was limited. The oldest daughter only completed third grade.

"We don't really do school. I haven't finished first grade," the 17-year-old said, according to Deputy Manuel Campos.

Children said they were beaten, caged and shackled to beds if they didn't obey their parents. Investigators found that the toddler had not been abused, but all of the children were hospitalized after they were discovered.

The seven adult children were living together and attending school in February when their parents pleaded guilty. Attorney Jack Osborn, who represents them, declined to comment Thursday.

It's not clear if any children will attend Friday's sentencing, but they will be offered a chance to speak or can offer written statements to be read in court.

Defense attorneys would not say if the David or Louise Turpin will address the court.

The couple pleaded guilty to 14 criminal charges. Prosecutors said the deal would likely keep them in prison for the rest of their lives and spare the children from testifying.

"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.

First published on April 19, 2019 / 12:54 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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