True Crime

House of horrors: Evil parents kept their 12 kids locked up in CHAINS


Within the walls of the Turpin family’s normal-looking home there were 12 children being brutally tortured…

Louise grew up in a devout Christian family where her father was the pastor at their local church.

But far from idyllic, Louise and her siblings were sexually abused by a family member.

When Louise was 16, she eloped with 23-year-old David Turpin, a member of the church. A wealthy engineer, he offered Louise a security she’d never known.

Over the next 15 years, Louise and David were blessed with eight children.

But in 1998, something changed.

Louise and David started homeschooling their kids.

Then, the family moved to an isolated rural property.

During their Skype chats, Louise’s sister Theresa began to notice her nephews and nieces looked very pale.

‘They’re all so little,’ she said to Louise.

(Credit: ALAMY)

‘They’re going to be tall and lanky like David,’ Louise laughed.

After that, there were just occasional phone calls.

The Turpins had another four children, increasing their brood to 12. Neighbours noticed how sickly the timid children were – but, respecting privacy, asked no questions.

Then in 2010, the eldest girl ran away and was picked up by a neighbour.

The neighbours assumed the frail girl was suffering from a mental disability and returned her to her parents.

Soon after, the Turpins packed up and disappeared.

What their abandoned home revealed was alarming.

It was covered in filth and the stench was nauseating.

Dead dogs and cats littered the property.

Every cupboard, wardrobe and fridge was padlocked shut and all the bunk beds had ropes attached.

But the Turpins had again travelled far away.

They set up home in a suburban community but, despite going on to have another baby, even their closest neighbours had no idea there were 15 people living in their house.

Louise and David kept their children indoors all day, with neighbours saying they only occasionally saw a boy collecting the mail, or one or two girls working in the garden, before they quickly disappeared back inside.

(Credit: ALAMY)

Then, in the early hours of January 14, 2018, Louise and David’s 17-year-old daughter bravely jumped from a window and ran for her life.

Using an old, deactivated mobile phone, she called emergency services.

‘My parents are abusive,’ she said. ‘My two little sisters are chained up right now… they’re chained up to their bed.’

When the dispatcher asked the frightened girl where she was, she struggled to answer.

‘I don’t go out much so I don’t know anything about the streets,’ she replied.

Twenty minutes later, police found her and were directed to what became known as the ‘house of horrors’.

Inside, officers discovered the other 12 Turpin children, aged between two and 29 years old, living in filth.

Two girls and a boy were chained to their beds lying in their own excrement.

Except for the two-year-old, they were so emaciated police thought that they were all minors.

(Credit: ALAMY)

In fact, seven of them were over 18, with the 29-year-old son weighing just 37 kilos.

Louise and David were arrested and the children taken into care where the extent of the abuse was revealed.

Fed just once a day on deli meat or frozen chips, their only form of education was studying the bible.

If they defied their parents they were beaten and locked up in cages or with chains, which had replaced ropes after one of the boys escaped being hog-tied.

Only one shower a year was permitted, but on the rare occasion the children were allowed in public, they were cleaned up and dressed in identical outfits to portray the image of a happy family.

Theresa, who hadn’t seen her sister or the children for years, couldn’t believe Louise had left one house of horrors only to create her own.

‘Sometimes the abused can become the abuser, but I’m so angry right now it’s hard for me to give her any excuse,’ she wept.

In February, Louise, 50, and David Turpin, 57, pleaded guilty to 14 charges against 12 of their kids , including torture, child abuse and false imprisonment.

They were sentenced to 25 years to life.

The children, who are now all in school or college, were spared having to testify, but the Turpins’ 30-year-old daughter bravely made a statement at their sentencing.

‘My parents took my whole life from me but now I’m taking my life back,’ she said through tears. ‘Life may have been bad, but it made me strong.’

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