House of horrors mom weeps in court as she hears daughter’s 911 call

‘House of horrors’ mom weeps in court as she hears 17-year-old daughter’s 911 call telling dispatcher her two younger sisters are chained up

  • Louise and David Turpin attended a preliminary hearing to determine whether prosecutors have gathered enough evidence to take the case to trial
  • Both the husband and wife appeared in court on Wednesday with exceedingly long fingernails 
  • Couple are accused of abusing and starving their 13 children, ranging in age from 2 to 29
  • Children were rescued in January after Turpins’ 17-year-old daughter escape and called 911, saying two of her sisters were shackled
  • Louise wept in court listening to recording of her daughter’s 911 call, on which she said that her parents were abusive 
  • Turpins have pleaded not guilty to torture, child abuse and other charges 

A Southern California mother suspected of shackling and starving her 13 children broke down in tears in court on Wednesday while listening to a 911 call made by her 17-year-old daughter reporting abuse.  

Louise Turpin and her husband, David, appeared for a preliminary hearing in Superior Court in Riverside, where a judge weighed whether prosecutors have gathered enough evidence to take the notorious case to trial.

The couple, who were arrested last winter, have pleaded not guilty to torture, child abuse and other charges. They are being held on $12million bail each.

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House of horrors parents: Louise and David Turpin attended a preliminary hearing Wednesday to determine whether prosecutors have gathered enough evidence to take their case to trial

Louise was seen wiping her eyes (not pictured) while listening to a 911 call her 17-year-old daughter made after escaping their Perris, California, home in January


Claws: Both the husband and wife appeared in court on Wednesday with exceedingly long fingernails (left and right)

What’s so funny? David Turpin had a smile on his face during the hearing in Riverside. He has gotten a shorter haircut behind bars

The Turpins are accused of torturing, starving and chaining up their 13 children (pictured)

Despite wiping tears during part of the hearing, she seemed to smile talking to her attorney at other times

Louise wiped away tears as prosecutors played a recording of the 911 call from their 17-year-old daughter, who escaped the family’s Perris, California, home on January 14.

The girl said on the 20-minute call that she managed to get away and asks that authorities help her young sisters.

‘They will wake up at night and they will start crying and they wanted me to call somebody,’ she said of her chained siblings. ‘I wanted to call y’all so y’all can help my sisters.’

She also told the operator her parents are abusive.

‘I haven’t finished first grade and I’m 17,’ the teen said. ‘Sometimes I wake up and I can’t breathe because of how dirty the house is. We never take baths.’ 

Authorities said the Turpin home reeked of human waste, and the evidence of starvation was obvious, with the oldest of 13 siblings weighing just 82lbs. 

The children were chained to their beds as punishment, beaten for minor transgressions, denied food and toys and allowed to do little except write in journals, prosecutors have said.

They said the children were isolated from each other and locked in different rooms in small groups. They did not have access to televisions or radios but expressed themselves in the hundreds of journals that investigators seized from the home.

Authorities said the Turpin home in Perris (pictured) reeked of human waste, and the evidence of their children’s starvation was obvious

Most of the Turpin children were homeschooled, but one of the older boys was allowed to attend classes at Mt San Jacinto Community College. 

His mother would drive him there, stay outside in the hallway during the class and then take him back home as soon as the class ended, prosecutors said.

After they were freed from the home, the children, who ranged in age from 2 to 29, were immediately hospitalized and eventually released. Prosecutors said the abuse was so prolonged the children’s growth was stunted.

The current whereabouts of the children is unknown. A spokeswoman for the county’s social services department declined to discuss the case.

Jack Osborn, an attorney appointed to represent the couple’s seven adult children, said earlier this year they were ‘doing well.’ 

After they were freed from the home, the children, who ranged in age from 2 to 29 (pictured at their parents’ vow renewal ceremony), were immediately hospitalized

They have participated in music therapy programs, made crafts and world-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma held a special concert for them. They communicated with their younger siblings over Skype.

‘They’re happy, they are wanting to move forward, they do not want to dwell on the past and they want their identity to be now and going forward the things they hope to do, the dreams they have. They do not want people to think of them only as a possible victim, but as young adults setting off on their lives,’ he told the Riverside Press-Enterprise newspaper in February.

Prosecutors were expected to call law enforcement officers to testify at Wednesday’s hearing, but the children are not expected to take the stand.

David Turpin’s attorney, David Macher, said he was ‘looking forward to the hearing,” but declined to comment further. 

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