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Calif. couple sentenced to life in prison for torturing their 13 children in 'house of horrors'

David Allen Turpin, seated second from right, and Louise Anna Turpin, seated left, appear in court for their arraignment in Riverside, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018. The Southern California couple were arrested after the police found their 13 children in squalid conditions, some shackled. (Gina Ferazzi/Pool via The New York Times Copyright 2018)

For years, David and Louise Turpin abused 12 of their 13 children, starving them, hitting them, depriving them of sleep and shackling them to furniture - torture that moved one of their daughters to tell a courtroom, "My parents took my whole life from me."

In a Friday hearing at Riverside County Superior Court, the California couple was sentenced to life in prison. They'll have a chance at parole after 25 years.

Their daughter, speaking publicly for the first time, continued through tears: "Now, I'm taking my life back."

In February, the Turpin parents each pleaded guilty to 14 felony counts, admitting that they had overseen what state authorities would later call a "House of Horrors."

They were arrested in January 2018 after one of their children - a 17-year-old girl - escaped from the family's home by climbing out a window, then called 911.

In the months that followed, law enforcement uncovered a pattern of startling and violent mistreatment, as the children recounted to them years of emotional, physical and sexual abuse.

In her 911 call, the 17-year-old said she doesn't know much about her mother. "She doesn't take care of us. . . . They only chain us up if we do something wrong. My sisters, they wake up crying," she said, CBS Los Angeles reported.

Three of the siblings were chained to their beds when police arrived at the family's house in Perris in January. The Turpins were unchaining two of them, an 11-year-old and a 14-year-old, as police stood at the door, Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin told reporters after their arrest. Another sibling, a 22-year-old, was still chained to a bed when police entered the home.

The abuse began several years ago, when the family was living in the Fort Worth area, prosecutors say. In 2010, they moved to Murrieta, Calif., about 80 miles from Los Angeles, where authorities say the abuse got worse. They moved to nearby Perris, Calif., a few years later.

In court on Friday, both Turpin parents apologized. David Turpin, through his lawyer, said that he had "good intentions." Louise Turpin said she was sorry for "everything I've done to hurt my children."

"I only want the best for them."

This article was written by Reis Thebault and Michael Brice-Saddler, reporters for The Washington Post.

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