MISE & Agrave; DAY
Jordan Turpin was 17 when she slipped through the window of the family home in Perris, Calif., To save the lives of her 12 siblings. & nbsp;
For two years, she planned her escape to end decades of untold emotional and physical abuse inflicted by her parents. Equipped with nothing but an old cell phone she found in the house, Jordan ran out. She called 9-1-1.
“I've always been afraid of getting caught, if I call the cops or try to escape. I knew I would die if I got caught, ”Jordan, now 21, told ABC News host Diane Sawyer in an exclusive interview that aired Friday.
< p> “But in the end, when I saw all my younger siblings, I knew this is what I had to do.”
During the frightening 9-1-1 call, Jordan told police the house the family lived in smelled so bad they could barely breathe. She thought that she and her siblings might need to be seen by a doctor.
When the first policeman arrived, she immediately showed him the phone, full of photos and videos that 'she took of herself and her siblings, to prove the abuse.
This escape in January 2018 led to the discovery of her siblings in a situation that the district attorney Riverside County Mike Hestrin has described it as one of the “worst most serious child abuse cases” he has ever seen.
As proof, some of the couple's children, aged 2 to 29, were found chained to beds with padlocks. Some adults were so malnourished they looked like young adolescents.
That morning, Jordan was sitting in the back of a police car and watching her parents, David and Louise Turpin, be arrested. They were each sentenced to 25 years in life after pleading guilty to 14 counts of torture, adult abuse, endangerment of children, forcible confinement and more.
< p> The first moments of freedom
When the police arrived at the Turpins' home and said that they were carrying out a welfare check, they did not have to long to recognize the magnitude of the horrific reality of children.
They discovered a house that reeked of the smells of human excrement, rotting garbage and moldy food, with every surface covered in trash, ABC News reported in the report featured on 20/20 . The children were seen in filthy beds in a frail condition, marked with dirt, their arms covered in bruises.
One child had a wrist and ankle chained to a bed leg. He had been in this position for weeks. Body camera footage showed heavy chains being used on children.
“The only word I know to describe the place: 'horror',” said Jennifer Turpin, the eldest of the offspring.
The 13 Turpin children were taken to hospital, where nurses and doctors began treating them for a long list of health issues. Some were so emaciated that they could barely walk; others suffered from heart damage related to a lack of nutrients. & nbsp;
A tween's arm was the size of a four-and-a-half-month-old baby, according to ABC.
< p>The children had limited language skills and knew little about the outside world. & Nbsp;
In addition to suffering from severe caloric malnutrition associated with muscle wasting, several of them suffered from cognitive impairment and “Neuropathies, which are nerve damage, as a result of this extreme and prolonged physical abuse,” Hestrin said.
Jennifer Turpin danced in the middle of her hospital room to celebrate her release.
“The music was playing, I stood up,” said the now 33-year-old woman. I made sure the floor was clear and I danced. ”
There was also an exhilarating visit to a play park.
“ I was so excited because that I could smell the air, I could smell the grass. I wondered how Heaven could be better than this? ”Jordan explained. Oh, my God, it's so free, like, that's life! ”
“ If anything happened to me, at least I would die trying. ”
Chained & nbsp;
Parents left their 13 children hungry, chaining them with padlocks while making fun of them leaving pies on the counter. None of them had seen a doctor for more than four years, and none of them had ever seen a dentist. ”
Usually their diet consisted of peanut butter sandwiches, the sisters told Sawyer. On rare occasions, they were given frozen food. And if they were still hungry or got caught trying to eat something else, they were viciously punished.
Sometimes children were so hungry that they ate sachets of ketchup and ice cubes.
“When you have parents who abuse their children at this level, it begs the question 'How can a sane person do this?” Hestrin raised. The truth is, sane people do bad things all the time. ”
The day before Jordan's escape, she said she heard her parents say they were moving the family to Oklahoma. If they had moved there, there is “a good chance” that some of them would have died.
“It was my only chance,” she continued. I think we've come close to death enough times. (I thought) if anything happened to me, at least I would have died trying. ”
Jordan remembered when she started to think about what her life could be like if only she wasn't trapped anymore. She was inspired by singer Justin Bieber, she says, whose music and interviews appealed to her.
Her favorite Bieber songs are “As Long As You Love Me,” “Boyfriend” and “Baby”, it wasn't just her music that prompted her to take action.
“I began to realize that there was a different world out there. Jordan said.
She enjoyed watching his interviews and learning new words from him while realizing the things they had in common. But one day her mother caught her secretly watching a video of Bieber and strangled her.
“I thought I was going to die that day,” Jordan admitted. After the day, I continued to have nightmares in which she killed me. ”
Freed, but still neglected & nbsp;
Although they have overcome living conditions that many cannot begin to imagine, the Turpin children are not yet completely safe.
ABC reported that a few have been placed with a family of children. home who was arrested and charged with mistreating several children in their care, including at least one Turpin child.
Another Turpin child, now in adulthood, was placed in a house where a foster parent told her she understood why her parents would shackle her.
“They felt betrayed,” said Melissa Donaldson, director of victim services for Riverside County, on the show. Have we seen children not having a safe place to live or stay at times? Yes. Did they sometimes have enough food? They didn't. “
” We have to fix it all. You would think now is the time to get organized and do whatever we can, and we haven't done it that way, ”she continued. & Nbsp;
Even though they received donations of $ 600,000 from generous strangers across the country, the Turpin children struggled to get money. As to the reasons, questions remained unanswered from county officials, who cited court-ordered secrecy, ABC reported.
“They live in poverty. They live in neighborhoods where crime is on the rise. There is money for their education, but they don't have access to it, “Hestrin said.
” They've been victimized by the system again, and that's unimaginable to me. . “