911 call made by teenage daughter of Turpin family reveals alleged abuse at California home

Carol Schaeffer
David and Louise Turpin, who have been charged with torture and child endangerment: Riverside County Sheriff's Department

The chilling emergency call made by the 17-year-old daughter of a California couple accused of holding their 13 children captive, has been played a key hearing for the pair.

Prosecutors played the 20-minute 911 call at a preliminary hearing to determine if the couple is to stand trial over charges including alleged torture and child abuse. Both Mr and Ms Turpin have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

“My parents are abusive,” their daughter told the dispatcher in the call played to the courtroom. “They abuse us and my two little sisters right now are chained up.”

And when she struggled to remember the address of the home, the 911 operator asked her if she was around the corner from her house. “Yeah, I think,” the girl said. “I've never been out. I don't go out much.”

Asked by the dispatcher why her sisters were chained up, she said it was because one of her siblings told her mother she was “worse than the devil.”

Mr and Mrs Turpin were arrested in January after the teenager climbed out of a window and called 911 from a disconnected cell phone.

The children range in age from 2 to 29, with many having appeared much younger when they found due to malnutrition and muscle wasting, according to Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin. Officers reportedly thought the siblings were all minors due to their frail condition, but later learned that seven of the 13 were adults.

“Sometimes I wake up and I can’t breathe because of how dirty the house is,” the 17-year-old told dispatcher. She said she had not bathed in a year.

The girl can be heard struggling to spell her name. She said on the call that she had not finished first grade.

Mrs Turpin was reportedly seen crying in the courtroom as she listened to the 911 recording on Wednesday.

During the court hearing, Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy Manuel Campos detailed some of the interviews he undertook with the Turpin children.

Once, the 17-year-old said, her mother found she had watched a Justin Bieber video, and started choking her and asked, “do you want to die?” .

“You want to die and go to hell,” the mother said, according to Mr Campos.