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The California couple who made international headlines last year after they were arrested for abusing their 13 kids, including shackling them to their beds in a home dubbed a “house of horrors,” have pleaded guilty to torture and other abuse charges.
David Allen Turpin and Louise Anna Turpin pleaded guilty Friday in Riverside County Superior Court to 14 counts for mistreating their minor and adult children in what appeared to be a neatly kept house in a modest subdivision in Perris, California.
In January 2018, the Turpin's 17-year-old daughter escaped the home to report that she and her 12 siblings were being abused. Police said they found the Turpin children, who range in age from 2 to 29, bound to their beds with chains and padlocks. Because of the alleged malnourishment they all suffered, police initially thought all victims much younger than they actually were. They mistook the 17-year-old girl for a 10-year-old, according to a police press release. The home reeked of human waste.
In a recording of the 911 call played in court last year, the 17-year-old who escaped said two younger sisters and a brother were chained to their beds and she couldn't take it any longer.
"They will wake up at night and they will start crying and they wanted me to call somebody," she said in a high-pitched voice. "I wanted to call y'all so y'all can help my sisters."
The intervention by authorities marked a new start for the 13 Turpin offspring who lived in such isolation that some didn't even understand the role of the police when they arrived at the house.
Two girls, 11 and 14, had been hastily released from their chains when police showed up, but a 22-year-old son remained shackled.
The young man said he and his siblings had been suspected of stealing food and being disrespectful, a detective testified. The man said he had been tied up with ropes at first and then, after he learned how to wriggle free, was restrained with increasingly larger chains on and off over six years.
Authorities said the children were deprived of food and things other kids take for granted, such as toys and games, and were allowed to do little except write in journals.
An investigator testified that some suffered from severe malnutrition and muscle wasting, including an 11-year-old girl who had arms the size of an infant. The 17-year-old had difficulty pronouncing some words and spoke like a much younger child.
The kids were rarely allowed outside, though they went out on Halloween and traveled as a family to Disneyland and Las Vegas, investigators said. The children spent most of their time locked in their rooms except for limited meals or using the bathroom.
All the children were hospitalized immediately after they were discovered. Riverside County authorities then obtained temporary conservatorship over the adults.
Jack Osborn, an attorney who is representing the seven adult children, said earlier this year that they are in recovery, and they do not appear to be angry at their parents.
"They do worry about their parents, and I think at times they do miss their parents," Osborn said, according to NBC News. "They're not bitter. They really take every day as it is, as a gift."
Sentencing for the parents has been scheduled for April 19.
The Associated Press has contributed to this report.
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