Jordan and Jennifer Turpin: Sisters reveal details of ‘house of horrors’ escape ahead of tell-all TV interview
Jordan Turpin, one of 13 children kept imprisoned throughout her childhood by her parents in a case that shocked the US, has revealed how a smartphone and Justin Bieber inspired her escape in an interview set to air in the US on Friday.
She managed to escape the “house of horrors”, where the children were held captive by parents David and Louise Turpin, in January 2018, when she was 17.
She called 911 and she and her siblings aged, from two to 29, were rescued by police. They found signs of malnutrition, abuse and neglect.
In 2019, both parents pleaded guilty to 14 charges including cruelty to a dependent adult, child cruelty, torture and false imprisonment, and were sentenced to life imprisonment.
Jordan said secretly watching Justin Bieber music videos on a smartphone inspired her escape, and she became more determined to flee after her mother began choking her when she found out.
“I thought I was going to die that day,” she said. “After that whole day happened, I kept having nightmares that… she was going to kill me.”
After being held in captivity and abused by their parents for more than a decade, Jordan and Jennifer have opened up for the first time about escaping along with their 11 other siblings.
In the ABC 20/20 interview, Escape From A House Of Horror, they discuss life since finding freedom. Describing the first place she visited after her release, Jordan said: “The first place we went was a park with two of my sisters and I was so excited because I could smell the air and smell the grass. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh this is so free, this is life.’”
Jennifer describes looking around her hospital room that January morning after their release and dancing for joy.
“Music was playing, I got up” the now 33-year-old said. “I made sure there was a little bit of a floor cleared out and I danced.”
Jordan called 911 on the morning of 14 January 2018 after she escaped the home by crawling out the window. She said: “I knew I would die if I got caught. I think it was us coming so close to death so many times. If something happened to me, at least I died trying.”
In the police recording of the 911 call, heard on the programme, Jordan tells the dispatcher: “Um hello? I just ran away from home because I live in a family of 15. OK? Can you hear me? And we have abusing parents. Did you hear that?”
She continues: “They hit us. They like to throw us across the room. They pull out hair. They yank out our hair. My two little sisters right now are chained up.”
The call lasted 20 minutes before Jordan could work out what the address was for her home, since she had never been outside the house.
Shortly after the call, police arrived to release the children and detain the parents. Details of neglect and abuse emerged, including how the children would be entitled to one meal a day while their parents cruelly ate fast food in front of them.
They were also confined to their rooms and allowed to shower just once a year. They were often tied to their beds and thrown across the room.
Jennifer said: “My parents took my whole life from me, but now I am taking my life back.”
She explained how she wanted her siblings to be thought of not as victims, but as fighters: “I want the Turpin name [to be] ‘Wow, they’re strong. They’re not broken. They’ve got this.’”
Diane Sawyer also spoke to Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin, who was involved with the case and said it would “haunt” him.
“It stopped me dead in my tracks” he said. “There are cases that stick with you, that haunt you.”
All 13 children are said to be living normal lives since their release and continue to meet up with one another. Many of them have jobs, some are attending educational institutions, and some are living on their own.
ABC 20/20: Escape From A House Of Horror is on US channel ABC on Friday, November 19 at 9pm Eastern Time (2am GMT), and via stream on Hulu.
Siblings who were among 13 children imprisoned for years by parents David and Louise Turpin speak out about their abuse – and reveal how Justin Bieber inspired their escape