‘I Thought I Was Going to Die’: Turpin Sisters Talk About Life in Parents’ ‘House of Horrors’

“If something happened to me, at least I died trying.”

Two of the 13 Turpin children who were saved from abusive conditions at their California home in 2018 are publicly speaking about their experience for the first time.

In an interview that is scheduled to air on ABC on Friday, Jennifer and Jordan Turpin, now 33 and 21, told reporter Diane Sawyer about the routine abuse they suffered in the California home — including some of them being shackled to their bed for months on end. Jennifer Turpin recounted her parents instructing the older children to put her younger, unruly siblings in locked dog kennels.

The girls’ parents, David and Louise Turpin, were sentenced to 25 years to life in prison in April 2019, more than a year after Jordan Turpin, then 17, escaped their Perris home through a window and called police using a deactivated cell phone.

“I knew I would die if I got caught,” said Jordan Turpin, now 21. “I think it was us coming so close to death so many times. If something happened to me, at least I died trying.”

Fed up with the abuse, Jordan Turpin said she and a few of her siblings discussed how they would escape. Jennifer Turpin told ABC that she previously tried to escape — and that she provided her younger sister with details about the few times she was allowed to go outside in hopes that she could use the information to escape.

ABC reported that Jordan Turpin plotted an escape plan for two years before carrying it out. Jennifer Turpin revealed that the family was moving to Oklahoma the next day.

“I was telling [the 911 dispatcher] everything,” Jordan Turpin recalled. “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.”

David and Louise Turpin of withheld food from their children, limited their bathroom use, and allowed them to shower only once a year. The children, who ranged in age from 2 to 29 when they were rescued in January 2018, suffered physical and cognitive impairments due to the years of neglect.

Jennifer Turpin recalled feeling relief as she woke up in a hospital the morning after being rescued.

“Music was playing, I got up,” she told ABC. “I made sure there was a little bit of a floor cleared out and I danced.”

“Escape From A House Of Horror” with Diane Sawyer will air on ABC on Friday at 9 p.m. (EST). It will also be available for streaming on Hulu. 

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[Featured image: Jennifer and Jordan Turpin/ABC]