Turpin siblings speak out in 1st interview about 'house of horrors'

Authorities rescued 13 children from torture and abuse in 2018.

November 10, 2021, 5:06 AM

Starved, beaten and chained for months at a time, those are just some of the abuses endured by the children of the Turpin family.


Escape From A House Of Horror

13 children were held captive by their parents in a survival story like you’ve never seen. Now, hear from two of the Turpin siblings for the first time.

The children escaped captivity in a house of horrors nearly four years ago -- and two of them are telling their story for the first time in an exclusive interview with ABC News' Diane Sawyer.

"The only word I know to call it is 'hell,'" said Jennifer Turpin, reflecting on the trauma of her childhood.

Sawyer sat down for exclusive interviews with Jennifer Turpin and her sister, Jordan, whose dramatic escape and 911 call in January 2018 led to the rescue of her and her 12 siblings -- exposing the world to the horrors that took place inside their Perris, California, home.

"My whole body was shaking. I couldn't really dial 911, because --" Jordan said through tears, recalling the day of her escape and why she felt she had to make an attempt to run to safety. "I think it was us coming so close to death so many times. If something happened to me, at least I died trying."

The Turpin daughters described brutal violence and being deprived of food, sleep, hygiene, education and health care for years.

"Mother, she choked me," Jordan said. "And I thought I was going to die."

In February 2019, David and Louise Turpin pleaded guilty to 14 felony counts, including torture, false imprisonment and child cruelty. The parents were sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

PHOTO: Diane Sawyer sat down with two of the Turpin sisters for an exclusive interview that will air on "20/20."
Diane Sawyer sat down with two of the Turpin sisters for an exclusive interview that will air on "20/20."
Christina Ng/ABC

"My parents took my whole life from me. But now I'm taking it back," Jennifer Turpin said at her parents' sentencing hearing.

The two-hour "20/20" special, which airs Nov. 19, features never-before-seen police body camera footage, video and photos from the children's lives inside their parents' house and interviews with law enforcement members involved in the case.

"It stopped me dead in my tracks," said Riverside District Attorney Mike Hestrin. He and other officials told Sawyer and ABC News correspondent David Scott about the shocking challenges the Turpin children have faced since their rescue.

Nearly four years after their dramatic escape and rescue, the Turpin sisters said they are ready to move on with their life -- and reshape their public image.

"I want the Turpin name to be, like, 'Wow, they're strong, they're not broken,'" Jennifer said. "'They've got this.'"

Watch the Diane Sawyer special event, "Escape From A House Of Horror," on Friday, Nov. 19 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC and stream on Hulu.