Turpin Children Escaped Being Tortured And Held Hostage By Parents Only To End Up In Abusive Foster Care System

Photo: YouTube
Jennifer and Jordan Turpin

In January 2018, 13 siblings were saved from their parents in California after Jordan Turpin scrambled out of her bedroom window with her brother’s deactivated cell phone and called the only number that would work — 911.

David and Louise Turpin abused, tortured, and practically enslaved their 13 children for over 17 years — forcing them to live in filth and shutting them out of the outside world.

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After their parents were given a life sentence for 12 counts of torture and false imprisonment, as well as nine counts of child abuse and seven counts of cruelty to a dependent adult, Jack Osborn, a court-appointed attorney for the seven adult children, said that he believed the children would bounce back, and it would be exciting to watch.

"We are confident, given what they've been through and how resilient they are, that they're going to be really successful," he said. "It's going to be really exciting to watch that through the years."

Where are the Turpin children now?

According to an ABC News investigation, some of the Turpin children continue to face hardships and challenges, sometimes even dangers similar to those that they were rescued from.

After the world heard about the Turpin family and those kids were freed, generous strangers raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to help them enter the world — only things never got better for them.

Turpin family siblings escaped their family home only to end up in the abusive foster care system.

The adult Turpin children have been denied money. 

"They have been victimized again by the system," Mike Hestrin, the Riverside County district attorney, told ABC News' Diane Sawyer. It was Hestrin who prosecuted the Turpins' parents, David and Louise, and handed down the life sentences they now serve.

Hestrin and his team are among the few outsiders who have been able to stay in contact with the Turpin kids who have their lives shielded by a combination of laws to protect child-abuse victims and a confidentiality order made by the judge in the case.

"They're living in squalor," Hestrin said, referring to some of the adult children. "They're living in crime-ridden neighborhoods. There's money for their education — they can't access it."

Some of the Turpin children experienced abuse in foster care.

Some of the younger siblings spent years in the foster care system that’s been known to have glaring issues and where the Turpins made accusations of child abuse.

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One of the kids filed charges for such abuse, two of the older children have at times had to resort to "couch-surfing," one advocate said, and, in at least one case, another was assaulted.

Much of the $600,000 that the generous public raised to be given to the kids in order to get their lives together has been kept from them by the courts.

“County officials, citing court-ordered secrecy, have refused to provide ABC News with any information about the trusts,” reported ABC News, “including how much money has been distributed to the Turpin children and the justification for refusing some requests for financial assistance made on behalf of the children.”

Two of the adult Turpin children, including Jordan, don’t have access to any of the government programs that were supposed to help them get back on their feet and live in dangerous neighborhoods or are even unable to acquire food.

Jordan and Jennifer Turpin have spoken out about life after captivity.

"I don't really have a way to get food right now," said now-21-year-old Jordan in July after just being released from extended foster care with no plan for food, health care, life skills training, shelter, or even a warning.

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"Well, where I live is not the best area," her sister Jennifer, 33, said.

29-year-old Joshua Turpin said that he struggled just to get a bike for transportations. 

"I requested — I called the public guardian's office and she refused to let me request for a bike," Joshua Turpin said, referring to Vanessa Espinoza, the public guardian. "And I contacted my attorney, Jack Osborn, and he refused to let me know who was over charge of my trust."

Espinoza was supposed to help them get access to the resources they needed as the public guardian overseeing the 13 childrens’ cases, but she was largely useless.

"She wasn't helpful at all," Joshua said. When he would seek Espinoza's assistance, "she would just tell me, 'Just go Google it.'"

This investigation has exposed serious systemic fissures in governmental programs that are supposed to provide aid to children who are victims of abuse and require assistance.

"If we can't care for the Turpin victims," Hestrin said, "then how do we have a chance to care for anyone?"

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Isaac Serna-Diez is a writer who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Follow him on Twitter here.