Turpin sisters on finding courage to develop plan for escape from imprisonment

"I just felt like I had to do it," Jordan Turpin said.

November 18, 2021, 9:01 AM

Jennifer Turpin said she woke up in terror every day while she was imprisoned by her parents alongside her 12 siblings.

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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 eldest Turpin child, now 33, and her sister Jordan, now 21, described in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Diane Sawyer how their parents, David and Louise Turpin, shackled some kids to beds and deprived them of food, hygiene, education and health care. They are the first of the 13 Turpin children to share their stories.

"Nothing’s going to be as bad as 29 years, in what the only word I know to call it, is 'hell,'" said Jennifer Turpin, reflecting on the trauma of her childhood.

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.

PHOTO: Jordan and Jennifer Turpin sat down with ABC News' Diane Sawyer for an exclusive interview airing on Nov. 19, 2021.
Jordan and Jennifer Turpin sat down with ABC News' Diane Sawyer for an exclusive interview airing on Nov. 19, 2021.
ABC News

When Jordan Turpin said she could no longer bear to witness her sibling’s suffering, she began discussing with a few of them about how to break free from the house.

“I was worried about my siblings,” Jordan Turpin told Sawyer, “and when I saw them crying and worried, I just felt like I had to do it.”

Jennifer Turpin, who previously tried to escape but came back, said she wanted to share with Jordan Turpin everything she could remember about the few times she was allowed outside, hoping her sister would make it to freedom.

“I gave her all the advice I knew,” Jennifer Turpin said. “Get pictures, anything to prove so they can’t think you’re just a teenager looking for attention.”

Early in the morning on Jan. 14, 2018, Jordan Turpin finally knew it was time to leave and find help.

She said “coming so close to death so many times” helped her find the courage to crawl through a window and drop to the outside, a place she had only been a few times her entire life.

“If something happened to me,” Jordan Turpin said. “At least I died trying."

She called 911 from an old cell phone she said her parents didn’t know she had.

“I was telling [the dispatcher] everything,” Jordan Turpin said. “We don’t go to school. We live in filth...how we starve...I had to make sure that if I left, we wouldn’t go back and we would get the help we needed.”

In 2018, 17-year-old Jordan Turpin had only been outside a few times in her life. Thinking of her siblings chained back at the house, she dialed 911 on an old cell phone her parents didn't know about.
In 2018, 17-year-old Jordan Turpin had only been outside a few times in her life. Thinking of her siblings chained back at the house, she dialed 911 on an old cell phone her parents didn't know about.

A deputy met Jordan Turpin within a half hour of her 911 call. Officers visited and arrested their parents, David and Louise Turpin, that day.

David and Louise Turpin pleaded guilty to charges including torture and false imprisonment. In 2019, they were sentenced to 25 years to life and are currently in prison.

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.

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