tv 2020 ABC November 19, 2021 9:01pm-11:00pm PST
an amazing escape to save a family by a terrified girl with towering counselor. >> this is 911. do you have an emergency? >> i just ran away from home, because we have abusing parents. >> my hole body was shaking. >> trying to save her 12 siblings from a house of horrors. >> the only word i know to call it is hell. >> diane sawyer with a story of survival like you've never seen. >> every day did you wake up in terror? >> for the first time anywhere, the raw police body cam footage. inside the house in realtime, and the secret recordings the children made on a camera hidden in a barbie doll, and the
superstar who never knew he inspired them to break free. >> i started realizing there was a different world out there. >> now, two sisters who risked their lives to save them all and move them from terror to triumph. >> i went, wow, they're strong. >> this is life. a security camera is rolling in a quiet, suburban california neighborhood. at the house across the street, in the shadows, someone quietly opens a window and slips out. watch. there, a blurry figure stepping forward. a small, uncertain girl heading one way. then she turns, hesitates, and starts to run, clutching an old cell phone. >> that was my only chance.
at least if something happened to me, at least i died trying. >> 911 emergency. what are you reporting? >> um, help. >> this is 911. do you have an emergency? >> um, i just ran away from home. >> do you know what street you're on? >> um, no. uh, i just ran away from home because -- i live in a family of 15, okay? can you hear me? and we have abusing parents. did you hear that? >> okay. how do they abuse you? >> okay, they hit us. they throw us -- they like to throw us across the room. they pull our hair. they yank our hair. i have two -- my two little sisters right now are chained up. >> okay, how old are you?
>> i'm 17. >> what's your name? >> jordan turpin. >> okay, i'm going to connect you to the sheriff's department so that they can help. >> what? >> one moment. don't hang up. >> i won't. >> a second dispatcher picks up. >> hello. >> oh, yes, i'm still here. >> nearly four years later, this is jordan turpin remembering that night. >> my whole body was shaking. and when i was holding the phone, i remember the phone was sh -- like, i couldn't really dial 911 because -- i'm sorry. >> you were shaking too much? >> yeah, i was shaking, and so i was trying, like, to -- to dial 911, but i couldn't even get my -- my thumb to press the buttons because i was shaking so bad. but i was, like, trying to,
like, calm down. thank you so much. i was trying to, like, calm down so i could -- i could -- to do it. and then i finally, like, pressed it, and then they answered. i literally never talked to somebody on the phone. >> what's your address? >> okay, you got to give me a minute. this is going to take a while. i've never been out. i don't go out much, so i don't know anything about the streets or anything. >> the dispatcher tracks her location from the gps on her cell phone and sends out a request for a police officer. a deputy across town volunteers. he's 14 minutes away. >> and i was freaking out because i was like, "wait, are they gonna take me back there?" like, i was so scared in that moment. i was actually on the road, because i didn't even know about the sidewalks. you're supposed to be on the sidewalk, but i'd never been out there. >> the caller tries to find her house address on a piece of
envelope she stuffed in her backpack. >> my address is 9-2-5-7-0-5-7-4. did you get it? >> okay. so now you just gave me a whole bunch of numbers. you didn't give me any kind of street name there. >> oh, okay, i'm sorry. i think those are the numbers on my house. >> that's your zip code. you're -- the numbers on your house should only be three digits. >> finally she reads the correct address but is panicking, not knowing whether her parents can look out a window and see her. >> are you at a corner right now? >> uh, i -- i might be. >> are you at -- is there a street sign? is there a pole with two names at the top? >> i just see -- i just see a stop sign. >> okay, can you go over and stand right at that stop sign? >> yes.
ad then eventually i saw a stop sign. and i stood by the stop sign. and she told me to stay there, and i was like, "i'm scared they're gonna come." like, i wanted to leave. i was so terrified because i know they way they were. they wouldn't care if they knew police were coming. they would just kill me right there and there if they realized that -- especially if they knew i was on the phone with the police. >> but she tries to remain brave, because of her siblings. she is their hope. >> the reason i ran away from home was because the chains were making places, and they will wake up at night. and they would start crying, and they wanted me to call somebody and tell them. and so i wanted to call -- i wanted to call you all so you all could help my sisters. >> do you think anybody in the house will need to go to the hospital? >> uh, i'm not sure. sometimes we live in filth, and sometimes i wake up and i can't breathe because of how dirty the
house is. we never take baths. >> when was the last time you had a bath? >> what? >> when was the last time you had a bath? >> almost a year ago. >> i had to make sure that if i left, we wouldn't go back. because -- and we would get the help we needed, because if we went back, there's no way i would be sitting here right now. >> i don't know how you had the courage, never having spoken to anyone like that. >> i think it was, like, us coming so close to death so many times. and, like, i was worried about my siblings, and when i saw them crying and worried, i just felt like i had to do it. like, like, i just wanted to do it. i wanted to help everyone. >> do you know if your parents keep any kind of weapons in the house? >> uh, i think that my father has a gun. >> have you seen the gun? >> no. but they've talked about it. >> the dispatcher knows if this girl with the strange cadence
and vocabulary hangs up or the call drops, there's no way to get her back. her old phone has been disabled. it can only call out to 911. so the dispatcher tries to keep her talking. >> do you know what your dad's name is? >> david turpin. i don't know much about my mother. she doesn't like us. she doesn't spend time with us ever. >> does anybody at the house take any kind of medication? >> oh, i don't know what medication is. >> any medicines? >> ah, when we have a cold, sometimes we take robitussin. >> at incredible speed, the girls rattles off the names and ages of each sibling. their names have been redacted. >> [ bleep ] is 2. >> [ bleep ] is 11. 12, 14, 16. i'm 17. 18, 19, 20. 22, 23.
25 i think. 29. >> the deputy is now just seven minutes away. >> i just want to stay on the phone with you. um, how did you get this phone that you have? >> ah, it was a phone that my brother had that he was gonna throw away, and i had to have a way to contact somebody like you. so i got it so i could call 911. >> and you guys don't have any friends or anybody who comes over to the house? >> hi. >> hey. >> okay. >> is that the deputy? >> um, yes. >> go talk to him, okay? >> yes. >> all right. bye-bye. >> hi, jordan. >> you're looking at the body camera footage from the deputy as he arrives. >> hi, what's going on? >> reporter: moving into frame, the skittish girl who has to convince this stranger her story is real. >> i was so nervous, because it was -- i've never had, like, a conversation with a stranger before. and so i saw him, and he was so serious. and he was tall, and aye never talked to a stranger. i was so, like, scared. i didn't know what he was thinking, because he had just
like, one straight face. >> reporter: you didn't know if he believed you or not. >> right. he was like, did you have any proof of this? i was like yes. >> he knew they were real. it was obvious they were real. >> reporter: when we come back, the photos, the body cam footage, and what the deputy saw that changed everything. not my uncle, though. he's taking trulicity for his type 2 diabetes and now, he's really on his game. once-weekly trulicity lowers your a1c by helping your body release the insulin it's already making. most people reached an a1c under 7%. plus, trulicity can lower your risk of cardiovascular events. it can also help you lose up to ten pounds. trulicity is for type 2 diabetes. it isn't for people with type 1 diabetes. it's not approved for use in children. don't take trulicity if you're allergic to it, you or your family have medullary thyroid cancer, or have multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2. stop trulicity and call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction, a lump or swelling in your neck, severe stomach pain, changes in vision, or diabetic retinopathy.
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>> and i live in a family of 15. >> okay. >> my two little sisters right now are chained up. >> they're chained up? >> yes. >> where are they chained up at? >> on the bed. now, mother didn't chain them up just to be mean. okay. they're chained up because they stole mother's food. >> uh-huh. >> but -- i'm sorry if i talk too much. okay. i've never talked to anybody out there, so i don't -- i've never been alone with a person, so this is very hard for me to talk. okay. >> how did you -- do your parents know you left your house? >> no, they don't. >> do you take any medication? >> what's medication? >> medication? >> yeah. what's medication? >> do you take pills? do you take pills for -- >> oh, i don't think i've ever taken a pill before. >> okay. >> right, i haven't. um, but -- >> reporter: the girl with the strange vocabulary nervously puts on a little hat, a reminder of one of her sisters who's
depending on her. >> our parents are abusing. they abuse us. but the reason i called and the reason i managed to get out here -- this is one of the most scariest things i've ever done. i'm terrified. but i called because my two little sisters, they're chained up right now. >> reporter: the deputy, a 9-year veteran of the force, is not sure what to make of the 17-year-ld girl who looks so much younger. he is ending a graveyard shift, and it's been a hard night. >> robbery calls, assault calls. deputies were shot at. >> reporter: he responded to the runaway call because he knows how they usually end. you take the kids back home to reconcile with their parents. >> i decided to take it thinking, hey, this might be a good way just to end my shift. >> reporter: and then, on instinct, he asks a question. >> do you have pictures of that? >> yes. i can show you. i actually didn't have it, and then one of my sisters told me i need to get pictures.
>> do you have pictures of your sisters chained up? >> yes, because they're -- yeah, they're in here. i don't have proof of everything but i have proof that my sisters are chained up. so, see? >> reporter: she doesn't seem to know the word "bruised." >> here you can look at them. see? those are the places that make in on them. and see how dirty she is? we're so filthy. we don't take baths. we don't -- >> how did your sisters get like this? >> okay. >> your parents chained them up? >> yes. because they stole food. >> okay. >> but they stole it because they were hungry. >> who took this picture? >> i did. i took those pictures. >> okay. you make sure to save these okay? >> okay. i will. >> don't get rid of those. >> i will. i won't. >> they looked very sad, malnourished. they were very pale. >> reporter: this is that deputy, anthony colace. >> once i saw that photo, it really sealed the deal for me. >> reporter: colace knows this girl is not your usual runaway. she has identified a possible
crime in progress, and her parents could be trying to find her. >> can you do me a favor, take a seat in the back of my car? >> okay. >> do you have any injuries? >> what's injuries? >> are you hurt? >> oh! no. not right now. >> reporter: colace radios in for backup. >> 1 perris 32, can i have 11-10? >> reporter: with his body cam running, he gathers more facts, trying to piece the story together. >> what are your parents going to do when they find out you left? >> uh, they're going to want to literally kill me. >> what's the worst thing they've done to you? >> uh -- they have choked me against the bed and -- >> did you call the police? >> no, i didn't have a way to get a phone yet. this is the first chance i've had a phone. >> reporter: suddenly, she remembers another detail, a horror recounted as part of her everyday life. >> oh, my brother's chained up too right now.
>> they're chained up? >> one of my brothers is chained up. so three people are chained up right now. >> and what does your mom do? >> nothing. she just stays at home. but she's always gone. >> well, why don't you guys just leave the house? >> because we're terrified. we don't really have a way. everyone is always looking. there's always somebody. >> reporter: deputy colace is stunned by the girl in the back seat with limited words and so much courage. >> i asked her what her middle name was. she said it was elizabeth. i asked her to spell it. she couldn't spell it. i wanted her to know people on the outside are loving and caring. >> reporter: he notices a video on her cell phone. she's singing. he asks to watch it. ♪ you blame me for everything ♪ ♪ i don't understand ♪ >> this is a great video and you're a beautiful singer.
>> reporter: daylight arches over a pleasant suburban neighborhood. it's sunday. most residents are still asleep. quietly, riverside county sheriff's deputies pull up to a house. on the outside, a house just like the others. it has been an hour and a half since jordan turpin climbed out the window. >> so they were like, if we walk in, would they still be chained. i was like, if they didn't notice me missing yes, yes. but if they notice me missing, they're gonna try to cover that all up. and they asked me if i wanted to come up, and i was freaking out, i was, like, no, no, no, no. like, honestly, i thought, like, knowing them, what if they killed me right there and there, even if the police were there? >> say i'm doing a welfare check? >> yeah. >> since a child may be in danger, the deputies do not need a warrant to enter the house.
they knock for two minutes and ten seconds. >> they're obviously not opening. >> then suddenly the door cracks open. >> hi. >> hi. >> reporter: a mother and father appear. >> how you guys doing? >> good. >> we got a call um for a check the welfare here at your house. >> reporter: they are breathing heavily. >> yeah, why? >> do you guys have kids in the house? >> yes. okay, what kind of call did you get? >> how you doing, sir? >> i'm doing okay. >> we were just in bed. i mean, like -- >> david and louise turpin, who have concealed a chamber of horrors for almost 30 years now watch as deputies start to make their way through the door. >> we're going the come in and cheq check, okay? >> reporter: and in one of the rooms inside the house, someone is waiting in her bed, eyes wide open, praying that knock on the door means her sister made it to freedom. >> knock, knock, knock. and i'm like -- and then they
said, it's the police. and i'm like, this is it. >> reporter: in the next hour, we will show you the video as it happens, what law enforcement sees when they walk into the house. their first encount we are emaciated children, some of them chained to their beds. thank you. ♪ if there's anything that you want ♪ ♪ if there's anything i can do ♪ ♪ just call on me and i'll send it along ♪ ♪ with love from me to you ♪ ♪ can i get ten large fries please? i'm gonna need like ten egg mcmuffin sandwich things? night, or the next morning, you've been loyal. mymcdonald's rewards is for you. now, every order earns points redeemable
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two young women walking toward our cameras were travelers from a dark world who invented their own light. it's been four years since the day in january 2018 when they were rescued, treated at a hospital, and given new life. jordan turpin, now 21 years old. her sister who helped plan the escape, the oldest turpin child, jennifer, now 33. how are you? >> awesome. i'm doing rely good. >> reporter: january 14th, 2018. >> yeah. big day. >> reporter: what's the first thing you did that you look back on and think, that was my first moment of real freedom" >> actually, being in the hospital. when music was playing, i got up and i made sure there was a little bit of a floor cleared out, and i danced. >> the first place we went, we went to a park with two of my sisters. and i was so excited because i could smell the air. i could smell the grass.
i was, like, how could heaven be better than this? oh, my gosh, this is so free. like, this is life. >> reporter: they are speaking for the first time, ready to talk about their lives but respecting the privacy of the siblings they love and the stories written on all their bodies when they arrived at the hospital, where doctors and nurses wept at what they saw. children so emaciated they had difficulty walking, stunted growth, heart damage from a lack of nutrients. a preteen whose arm was the size of a 4-month-old baby. their speech, their language, limited by the isolation and neglect. >> all of us went through a lot, and all of us went through our own things, and to be honest, not even all of us know every single thing each one of us went through. >> exactly. and nothing's ever going to be that bad. nothing's gonna be as bad as 29 years in what the only word i
know to call it is hell. >> reporter: a hell created by her own parents, who started out two kids growing up in a small town in west virginia. david turpin, by all accounts, a nerdy boy with bowl cut hair and a shy stutter. he graduated from virginia tech and was offered a well paid job at lockheed martin. louise robinette, a girl six years younger, a member of the bible club. she sang in the choir. she grew up suffering a family secret which we'll tell you later. this is their wedding photo. she's just 16. they are a couple both steeped in the pentecostal church. with its message about the insidious power of the devil, and the rules -- no drinking, no sex before marriage. and that's how the young couple began life in this nice house in a nice neighborhood in fort worth, texas. they tell family god has called on them to have as many children as they can. he is 26, she's 20 when they have their first little girl. there's jennifer.
you can see her smile is so much like the smile of the mother she once loved. >> my first memory, i was about 2 years old, and it wasn't to me. >> reporter: what was it? >> i went downstairs for a glass of water, for a cup of water. and on the stairs, i saw my father yelling very loudly at my mother. my mother was crying. >> she started to say something. he's like, "no, you shut up!" and he took his fist and punched it in the wall, made a hole in the wall. i was terrified. >> reporter: as her father yells in anger, she says her loving mother heads into unpredictable mood swings. >> it was like i never knew which side i was going to get of her if i was going to ask her a question. like, she going to call me stupid or something. but anyway -- and then -- or like yank me across the floor. or she going to be nice and answer my question? >> reporter: neighbors are never invited inside that house, where
the bright white walls are now gray with dirt and stains. carpets with human filth. the shower floor seems black with mold. when jennifer shows up at grade school, she's a little girl with unwashed hair, unwashed clothes. >> i remember wanting to make friends. i remember all of them didn't want to be my friend. didn't really understand why. they called me skinny bones and acted like they didn't want to be around me. i probably smelled. but i didn't realize at the time i smelled. but that stench clings to you. it stays with you. 'cause we would literally live in houses piled with trash, and i mean literally piled with trash. mold and everything. and there's no good way to get rid of a smell like that. so it was on my clothes, it was on me. and i think that had a lot to do with it. >> reporter: is it possible that
some of her teachers noticed something? years later, there are no records from the school. but after the third grade, jennifer's parents take her out, and no turpin child will go to grade school again. the family moves into an isolated house in rural texas. david turpin commutes to lockheed martin. they pose for photographs to send home to family, as four kids become nine, nine become 12. but when they go back to the house, the children are not allowed outside. all of them taught to honor thy father and mother and only to call them that. >> we'll call them mother and father for the sake of the interview, but i don't like calling them that. 'cause they're not that to me. they literally used the bible to explain their behavior toward us. >> reporter: what parts of the bible? >> they loved to point out things in deuteronomy, saying that, we have the right to do this to you. that they had the right to even
kill us if we didn't listen. >> reporter: disobey mother, talk back, steal a piece of candy -- you can be thrown across the room, pushed down the stairs. father also used belts and sticks and eventually dog kennels with padlocks and homemade cages. jennifer draws the shape of the cage. and every day, did you wake up in terror? >> yeah. 'cause i -- i was afraid to do one little thing wrong. if i did one little thing wrong, i was going to be beaten. and not just beat, like, beat till i bled. >> reporter: you okay? want to take a minute? >> i want to take a break. a little break. sorry. >> reporter: let's do it.
let's take a break here. wade walsvick, lead investigator on the turpin case. a 33-year veteran of abuse and homicide cases. how long did it take you to figure out that this was unlike anything you'd ever seen before? >> probably within the first couple of days. >> reporter: the parents move their children further off the radar. a trailer behind the house. and then they abandon them to seek their own adventures. they drop off weekly groceries -- never enough. jordan was 6 when her parents left. she says at times she ate leaves, grass. >> there was a lot of starving. so i would have to figure out how to eat. lke, i would either eat
ketchup, or mustard or ice. >> reporter: ice cubes and ketchup? >> yeah. >> reporter: and jennifer is forced to discipline the children by putting them in father's cages. >> the cages that they were instructed to put their siblings in. or that they would be put in if they didn't. >> reporter: that is the nightmare choice. >> which is why she struggled so hard as a 17, 18, 19-year-old, so much. >> reporter: it's not a choice if survival is -- >> the answer. but living in that, you kind of feel like you're torn because you don't know what to do. because i was on the brink of suicide. i wanted to just end it all. all my pain, everything. >> three years go by, and no one seems to notice them. no one intervenes. but after the turpin story breaks, a little boy remembers
he once had a classmate in ft. worth named jennifer turpin. a frail girl with a brave smile. he has since become a doctor. he wrote this plea on facebook. jennifer turpin was the one girl nobody wanted to be caught talking to. i can't help but feel an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame. the person who sat across from you at the lunch table went home to squalor and filth while you went home to a warm meal and a bedtime story. the resounding lesson -- teach your children to be nice. befriend the jennifer turpins of the world. coming up -- the video of david and louise tuprin celebrating their love story. >> mm, baby. >> reporter: certain their abused children will keep their secret. what did they tell these children that paralyzed them with fear of the outside world? (animal drumming in distance)
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>> my soul mate. >> my soul mate. >> to have and to hold. >> to have and to hold. >> from this day. >> from this day. >> and forever. >> and forever. >> mmm, baby. >> mmm, baby. ♪ wise men say ♪ >> reporter: and while their children were starving in that texas trailer, investigators say the devoted couple had moved into a motel to go out drinking, posting photos of their adventures. and now the children they had abandoned are in the chapel with them, dressed in identical outfits to celebrate their parents' love story. ♪ you ain't nothing but a ♪ ♪ >> say hound dog. >> hound dog! >> hunka hunka. >> hunka hunka. >> burning love. >> burning love. >> baby, baby. >> baby, baby. >> mama, mama. >> mama, mama. >> and we put our hands together, ladies and gentlemen. ♪ you ain't nothing but a hound dog ♪
>> reporter: there's jennifer, the oldest. there's jordan, the eighth. rail thin arms, awkward dancing. so these are the pictures that we saw. >> that moment -- we, of course, were happy to be out doing something. at the same time, i know inside i was like, this is all a mask. this is all fake. we're not this big, happy family that they always portray to everyone. and that always bothered me. and --
that's, like, a mix of things in that moment that i was feeling, personally. >> she would get us all dressed. we would get clean, and then we would go out. and it would be, like, the best day ever. we were so happy, all of us. ♪ falling in love with you ♪ >> but then when we would come back, it was just like, put on the same dirty clothes and sit back to where -- and i used to always wonder, like, why couldn't we just be a family like that all the time? >> reporter: the family now lives under one roof in perris, california, a suburb with spanish style homes, flowers by the door. david turpin has a new job as an engineer at northrop grumman. he also has a new mustang. on another car a vanity plate -- "david and louise 4 ever." but behind the closed door of this house in the suburbs, louise turpin seems to have a
manic pattern of shopping sprees, racking up huge credit card debts with her childlike obsession with buying children's clothes, toys, games she hoards. the children are not allowed to touch mother's toys unless she gives permission. this is a video made in the house of one the children's closets. brand-new clothes with price tags on them, while the children remain dressed in filth. >> they would buy literally so many expensive clothes and toys and stuff that they wasn't ever gonna use. about 100 different collector monopolies and stuff like that. >> reporter: at this point, david turpin files for bankruptcy. they decide the children will have to economize. so every day it was bread and peanut butter? >> mostly. very occasionally we would get, like, food frozen or maybe fast food place. >> reporter: so what did your
mother and father eat? >> oh, they -- they always ate fast food, frozen meals. they had the good stuff. and i was the one usually preparing it. >> reporter: a video of the turpin refigerater, stocked with items the parents eat. >> reporter: what did they say to you about eating what they wanted? >> they blamed it on us. they said they couldn't afford it because we were stealing. >> reporter: and by stealing, you're really -- you're talking about food? >> yeah. we had a weird schedule. most of the time we were up at night and then sleeping in the day. >> reporter: and the blinds were closed so the neighbors couldn't see. >> we wasn't allowed to look out or open them. we wasn't even allowed to stand up. we were supposed to, like, be sitting down all the time. >> reporter: later police find a video of the hungry, unbathed children hiding from view in a hallway. their father, en route to his job, smiles. jordan is filming this. it's a little camera she found on her barbie doll. you can see the camera there on the barbie's neck, the record button on her little belt.
so take a look at this scene again. 13 children in their perris, california, home. so many houses just a few feet away. >> that bothers me because i know some neighbors knew things were going on. so i wish they did something like, just have somebody look into it. >> reporter: and why did the california school system never check up on a homeschool called the "sandcastle day school"? these are documents filed by david turpin, who proclaims himself principal. louise s the teacher. >> a lot of child abuse gets reported through our schools. teachers and school administrators are mandated reporters. so, you know, if a child comes to school with bruises or emaciated, that is a very common way that it gets reported. >> reporter: mike hestrin is the riverside county district attorney. >> in this case, the turpin family claimed that they were homeschooling their kids. they weren't. they used the homeschooling
system as a way to avoid any scrutiny. >> reporter: and when mother and father are out of the house, the little prisoners emerge. >> when mother was gone or father was gone, we would, like, sneak and talk. and, like, sometimes we would open the window, and we would stick our head out. >> reporter: they listen to music. there's a tv to watch. a few trusted older siblings now have smartphones so that mother and father can always reach them with instructions. they take videos of the food they hide in their beds. and most of all, these children are so desperate for an education they try to teach each other language and what it is to be human. you taught each other -- >> yes. >> reporter: what you knew. >> we just did the best we could with what we did know. >> i knew the whole alphabet, but i had my sisters help me with that.
they taught me the -- >> the vowels? >> yeah, the vowels. >> reporter: the children are told not speak to strangers when they are taken out on rare occasions to get those posed photographs. and again, that video in las vegas. would you have spotted any fear in their faces? they've been told one mistake and something called child protective services could come and separate them forever. >> i thought that we all go in different countries. and i thought that we would never see each other again, and i thought that we would be put into cages and they would starve us. and then as soon as we turn 18, just throw us out on the street. mother usually spoke for us. >> we were also instructed on certain questions that may be asked of us. like, if they say what grade you're in, you tell them this. there would be times where i would be like, wait, what grade am i supposed to be in? >> i know.
me, too. i would be, like, going to one of my sisters. i used to be, like, memorize, like, "6, 7, 8." >> i know. >> like, it's, "i'm 8, and i'm supposed to be in 3rd grade." >> reporter: so they dance. they pretend. and the parents don't know that one of their children has borrowed a sibling's phone and is about to see something that will ignite a plan to escape. ♪ ♪ ♪ (sha bop sha bop) ♪ ♪ are the stars out tonight? (sha bop sha bop) ♪ ♪ ♪
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>> reporter: in 2015, how does jordan turpin start to summon the courage to run? she secretly opens a sibling's smartphone. >> i don't know where we would be if we didn't watch justin bieber. ♪ and i was like baby, baby, baby, ooh like baby baby baby nooo ♪ >> justin bieber was the first thing who fascinated you? >> oh, well, i never talked to justin bieber. >> reporter: no, but watching. >> oh, i'm sorry. i'm so sorry. yes. i loved "as long as you love me" and "boyfriend" and "baby." ♪ na na na na na na if i was your boyfriend ♪ >> reporter: never underestimate the power and reach of a teenage heartthrob to enchant a 14-year-old fan, even one trapped in a cruel prison. >> i started realizing that there is a different world out there. i only knew one world, and that was, like, always being there.
i was just blown minded by how different it is out there, and i always, like, i want to be out there. i want to be like that. i want to experience that. i want to do that. >> reporter: in bieber's videos, the houses are nice. he has friends, and he talks about being sad and searching for god and comfort just like her. she says she loved learning new words from him for her stunted vocabulary. >> i, like, watched all his interviews. and it was actually, watching him that made me learn fast, smarter, because i started paying attention. >> if god is based on love, it's, i love you first, regardless of what you do, rather than, you do this and i'll love you. >> reporter: she started to understand the fragments of hope she'd seen on tv. ♪ we're all in this together ♪ >> reporter: happy kids in pretty dresses, so far away from her life. she had tried to make a pretty dress with old paper she found around the house. >> but, yeah, like, "high school
musical" and all those other disney channels and stuff, like, "hannah montana." >> now why don't you tell me what's really on your mind? >> those movies when their daughter would feel like they could talk to their mom. and we'd be like, oh, my gosh, if i did that, there's no way. but it's like -- it's just always like, is that really how it is in real life? >> reporter: something is changing inside this quiet child. >> i wanted to get that phone and, like, somehow get, like, talking to other people.art - 'cause i've never talked to strangers before. >> reporter: with her secret phone she decides to post a little song she has written online. ♪ you blame me for everything ♪ ♪ you blame me for what they say what they say ♪ ♪ you blame me for everything ♪ >> when mother and father would leave, i would -- that's when i
would sneak in the bathroom and i would make my videos and put them out. and i was hoping, like, if i made those videos, then people might follow me on social media. and some did. >> reporter: a stranger writes, asking why she's always inside and up at night. >> he kind of just realized that i was always in my room, and then he started asking questions. and i told him how we eat and how we're not allowed to get out of bed. he was like, this isn't right. you should call the cops. like, i was so happy to hear him say that because i was like, i was right. i was right that the situation was so bad. >> reporter: and one day, jordan is caught secretly watching a justin bieber video. >> mother, she choked me, and i thought i was gonna die that day. and after that whole day happened, i kept having nightmares that we were gonna -- that she was killing me. >> reporter: what jordan turpin knows is that the moment has arrived.
you either crack, or you decide to fight. >> i kept having nightmares that i was dying. and when i woke up, i was crying so hard. and that day was when i was like -- i told my two sisters, i'm gonna leave. >> reporter: coming up -- she starts to plan her escape. but the clock is ticking. one chance to get out and not pay with her life. and the video cameras in real time as police move through that house. come here! i've got big news! now, nurtec odt can not only stop a migraine it can prevent a migraine as well. nurtec is the first and only option proven to treat and prevent migraines with one medication. onederful. one quick dissolve tablet can start fast and last. don't take if allergic to nurtec. the most common side effects were nausea, stomach pain, and indigestion. with nurtec, i treat migraine my way. what's your way? ask your doctor about nurtec
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the time for escape is now. >> help. >> this is 911. duff an emergency? >> it's literally a now or never. >> a desperate plan for freedom. >> if something happened to me, at least addaed trying. >> 13 siblings held captive by their parents. >> locked inside for decades. for the first time, we're taking you inside that house of horrors as the police saw it in realtime. the sights, the secrets. >> i found the missing link. >> reporter: what do you know about why these two people did this to their children? >> 13 times over. >> and what's happened since then? were many of the promises made to them promises broken?
who is accountable? we're looking for answers. >> can i ask you, sir? >> and looking at joy. >> i want my name and her name, the turpin name -- like, wow, they're strong. >> reporter: behind the closed door of a suburban house in a nice neighborhood, where a christmas ornament hangs in the window, inside, there is a cruelty you do not have to imagine. you can see it in the pictures. chains used to tie little arms and legs. one child tied with a rope uses his teeth to escape so they switch to thicker, heavier chains. a child both hands attached to run railing can't roll over or itch the lice on his head. chained for a month, two months, only released to go to the bathroom, if they can make it in
time. jordan turpin looks at what is happening to her siblings and wrestles an agonizing choice. >> i knew i would die if i got caught. but at the end, when i saw, like, all my younger siblings, and everyone -- everyone was scared, i knew that's what i had to do. >> reporter: she decides to go to her sister secretly to ask for help. >> she's like, we ned to get out of here. so i gave her all the advice i knew. all the advice i could. >> reporter: jennifer had tried to escape herself long ago but came back. she wrote a song, a kind of prayer for god to help them. ♪ lord, i hate my life ♪ ♪ help me see the light ♪ ♪ i am losing faith ♪ ♪ help me see the day ♪ ♪ lord, help me see the light ♪ ♪ light in this darkness ♪ >> reporter: she draws a primitive little map for her sister jordan, trying to re-create what she knows about the world outside their house. she thinks the road out may be there or there.
it's hard to be sure. in a dark room, jordan films a phone call with another sister who asks a taxi company how much it would cost to take someone out of california to nevada. >> the very beginning of nevada. >> yeah, how much would it cost? >> a couple hundred? i'm not going. i'll take a bus. >> reporter: did your parents know you had the phones? >> no. no, they didn't. >> reporter: since a taxi costs too much, jordan remembers something she's seen on a tv show called "cops." >> i got those photos 'cause i knew that -- that i would need proof of that. >> get pictures, anything to prove, so they can't think you're just a teenager looking for attention. >> reporter: two of jordan's little sisters have now been chained to their beds in the room they all share. they were caught stealing mother's candy. she cannot bear their cries at night.
photos of them would be proof. >> i asked them permission before taking it, and they said yes. so they knew why i was taking the picture, and they knew what it was for. and they -- they letted me. >> reporter: and then on january 14, 2018, the signal that time has run out. jordan hears mother say the family is moving to oklahoma and everyone is getting chained. >> the very next day we were moving. it was literally a now or never. >> everyone's getting chained. i knew i had to leave that night. that was my only chance. at least if something happened to me, at least i died trying. because if we went to oklahoma, there was a big chance that some of us would have died. >> i honestly don't know that at least one, maybe two of them, would've survived the trip. they were in such horrible decline and on the edge of starvation. >> so i started grabbing my bags.
and i put on, like, some clothes, clean clothes so i wouldn't, like, smell or anything. >> reporter: she puts pillows under a blanket to look like her in case her parents peek into the bedroom. she climbs up on the windowsill and drops down. there she is again in that security camera footage starting to run. >> i could barely walk. my legs were shaking. everywhere was shaking. i was so scared. >> reporter: and something she didn't know at the time, there in the shadows, someone else is slipping out the window and running in the opposite direction. it's her sister who can't find jordan and then slowly makes her way back.pyou can see that too security camera footage. while somewhere in the darkness, jordan is making the lifesaving call. >> 911. what's your name? >> jordan turpin. >> i was trying, like, to dial 911, but i couldn't even get my -- my thumb to press the
buttons because i was shaking so bad. my two little sisters right now are chained. they will wake up at night, and they would start crying and they wanted me to call somebody and tell them. >> hi, jordan. >> hi. >> hi. what's going on? >> reporter: the deputy who arrives is so intuitive, he asks that critical question and she is ready. >> you have pictures of your sisters chained up? >> yes. i don't have proof of everything, but i have proof that my sisters are chained up. >> who took this picture? >> i did, i took those pictures. >> okay. you make sure to save these, okay? >> okay i will. >> don't get rid of those. >> i will. i won't. >> take a seat back here, okay? >> okay. >> reporter: the sun is up. reinforcements arrive. riverside county deputies walk up to the door, no idea what they'll find on the other side.
this is body camera footage of the police officers knocking on and off for two minutes and ten seconds. >> they're obviously not opening. >> suddenly the door cracks open. >> hi. >> hello. >> hi. sorry to bug you. >> how you guys doing? >> good. >> we got a call for a check the welfare here at your house. so. >> for -- for what? >> check the welfare. so we just basically check on everybody and make sure everybody's okay. >> yeah, why? >> do you guys have kids in the house? >> yes. >> reporter: we now know they had been scrambling to have someone unlock the chains. >> okay. do you mind if we just come in and take a look? make sure everybody's safe and everything's okay? >> okay, what kind of call did you get? >> we got a call that there was a young female walking around saying that she came from a house over here. we were able to find out that this was the house, and we just wanted to check and make sure that everybody was okay. >> they said she came from here? >> that's what she said. >> from inside this house? >> i think so.
otherwise we wouldn't be knocking on your door on sunday. >> did she say her name? >> um, i don't know -- did she say her name? >> i don't know offhand but we need to check the welfare of everybody inside, okay? once we get in and make sure everything's okay, we'll get out of your hair. >> well, we have a lot where we're packing. we're getting ready to move. >> that's fine. >> so it's a mess in here. >> we don't mind messes. we've been in worse. >> but, i mean -- >> how you doing, sir? >> i'm doing okay. >> no weapons in the house or anything like that? >> i do have -- i do, i do have a gun. but it's locked up. >> okay. locked up is good. we like that. okay, well we're going to come in and check, okay? we just want to make sure everybody's okay. >> do you have a search warrant or anything? >> no, we don't need one, sir. >> reporter: the deputies move through the door. coming up next, the body cameras and the stunning scene inside. which is great, but it's gonna take some planning. what can you do for me? so, it helps to have a wise friend and fierce defender in your corner. a friend like aarp.
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do you have a search warrant or anything? >> no, we don't need one, sir. >> reporter: as sheriff's deputies move through a door into a horrifying landscape, the windows are closed. the room is swelteringly hot, magnifying the stench of excrement, decaying garbage, mounds of mother's molding food. every sofa, counter, floor covered in layers of trash and unopened toys. >> hi, kids. hello. it's okay. >> reporter: louise turpin quickly tries to follow the deputies. >> all right. stay there for me for now. >> an officer distracts david turpin with topic after topic. >> okay. what's your name, sir? >> david. >> where you guys planning on moving to? >> oklahoma. no, my job's moving. >> louise turpin is directed to go back to the front door. >> why don't you stay over here with my partner, okay?
>> a pale, emaciated child moves through the living room. her clothes dirty. so is her hair. >> okay. what do you do for work? >> i'm an engineer. >> oh, engineer. >> 35 is another 10. >> louise turpin nervously probes again. >> you got a call? >> yeah, we got a call from -- not sure if it was the young girl that left or if it was a neighbor that saw her walking around the street. so, we'll get to the bottom of it. asuming we make sure everybody's okay. then we'll figure out if maybe she was one of your kids that wandered away. how many kids do you have? >> 13. >> 13? total? whoo. you guys are busy. >> yeah. >> reporter: as the parents are talking, deputies head into the center of the house. there's a hallway. they pass the parents' bedroom. then down the hall, two other bedrooms. the deputy looks in the first door and discovers a crushing scene. those two young girls from their sister's photos. one is on a bed, the other a
mattress on the floor. they are limp, frail, eerily quiet, caked in dirt. their arms are bruised. but where are the chains? >> hi, sweetheart. hi, girls. can i see your wrists? >> me? >> yeah. >> which one? >> okay. hi, how old are you? >> reporter: next, the deputy heads to the bedroom next door. two filthy bunk beds, but no child is chained. he pleads with the children. can they tell him, where are those chains? >> okay. thank you. we're here to help you. okay? just work with my guys. we will help you guys, okay? >> reporter: back at the front doorway, the deputy who has been talking to the parents notices something. almost obscured by the 6'1" david turpin and the pile of boxes to his right -- >> is there a bedroom back here? >> yeah.
>> you got another couple of kiddos that sleep here? >> yeah. >> sarge, you got another room in the front right here with two kiddos in the bed. >> where at? >> right here. >> reporter: deputies move the parents to the living room. and when officers walk inside the bedroom behind those boxes, they see three remaining children, including a boy shackled to his bed, thick chains on his wrist. another set of thick chains on his ankle. he has been this way for weeks. a deputy gently asks his name and starts looking for the keys to unlock him. back in the bedroom down the hall, where the two girls from jordan's photos sit quietly, the deputy is directed to go the closet, and there on the floor he finds the chains. >> okay. i found the missing link. >> all right, let's just go ahead and detain the parents. >> ma'am, why don't you step over here for a minute?
okay. with you. and, sir, step over here for a second. >> reporter: after decades of hiding their cruelty -- david and louise turpin are in handcuffs. >> go ahead and come out this way. want to just walk him to my car in. >> yep. >> and walked out of the house. >> put her in a different car, please. >> as the parents head towards police cars, inside a problem. deputies can't find the key to unlock the boy still chained to his bed. >> now, let me ask you -- >> yes. >> quickly, are there keys to the little locks? >> yes. >> where are they? >> my son and daughter can get them. that's in the house. >> the ones in the house know where they are? >> yeah. >> is that what this is about? >> that's part of it, definitely. >> back in the house, the deputies ask the kids for help.
>> it's in the drawer? >> it's in the drawer that i was in. >> they are directed to go back into the parents bedroom, a chaotic mountain of trash. but as you look at this photo, is this a portrait of chaos or derangement? by the way, there's a child in a crib who smiles and waves at the strangers. the missing key is found in mother and father's dresser drawer. the last child rescued. the last chain unlocked. outside, a 17-year-old girl sits in a police car. it has been less than two hours since she climbed out of the window. >> i saw them taking father, and i started freaking out. and i didn't know what was going to happen at all.
the person in the car was, like, saying, it's okay, it's okay, it's okay. like, you don't have to watch or see. like, he was really nice. he was really calming me down. >> reporter: deputies take all 13 children to the hospital. children wasted by starvation with atrophied muscles, crushed by isolation and emotional abuse. doctors and nurses give them food, clean rooms, clothes, kindness, love. >> we were dehydrated. we were starving. they needed to do a lot of stuff to help us get healthy. >> reporter: do you remember the first things you ate there? >> yes. it was macaroni and cheese. >> reporter: and enough of it. >> yes. it was good. >> reporter: coming up next, inside a courtroom, the parents respond to the charges. ramatic ♪ [sigh] ♪ ♪
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the riverside county district attorney's office filed criminal charges against david and louise turpin. 12 counts torture, 7 counts abuse of a dependent adult, 6 counts child abuse, 12 counts of false imprisonment. >> reporter: the turpins sit in a courtroom, chains around their waists and feet. it is four days after their children have been freed. louise turpin's attorney is trying to get the case against her dismissed, arguing she's now been diagnosed with histrionic personality disorder. a kind of unstable extreme narcissism. she even writes that when she gets the family together again
she promises no chains this time. and her sisters say louise may have been cracked by a truly horrible secret in their family. the trauma of ongoing sexual abuse since she was a child. >> a very, very close family member that we should have -- i'm sorry. >> it's okay. >> we should have loved and trusted, he abused my mother and sexually abused my mother, and then me and louise elizabeth. >> but the judge rejects the mental illness plea, saying louise turpin poses a risk to the public. to this day, david turpin has refused to talk to investigators. >> when you have parents abusing their kids to this level, and they're their own flesh and blood it begs the question,
how could any sane person do this, right? and the truth of the matter is that sane people commit evil acts all the time. >> sometimes there is no why. in my work. there's no reasoning. there's not logic to explain that type of behavior or why someone would actually do that, not only to anybody but your own offspring. i don't have a why. i really don't. >> reporter: the d.a. amasses a mountain of evidence. the turpins make a deal. no trial. they're ready to submit their plea. >> count one, which is a violation of torture. how do you plead to that charge, sir? >> guilty. >> and mrs. turpin? >> guilty. >> dependent adult abuse. >> guilty. >> child endangerment. >> guilty. >> guilty. >> guilty. >> guilty. >> guilty. >> guilty. >> reporter: at the sentencing, the parents weep when a few of the children send notes saying they forgive them, but the two oldest children come to the
courtroom to face their parents. the camera turned away to protect their identity. the eldest son speaks. >> i cannot describe in words what we went through growing up, but that is the past and this is now. i'm getting a bachelor's degree in software engineering. in june of last year, i learned how to ride a bike. i also have learned how to advocate for myself, how to swim, how to eat healthy, and prepare a balanced meal. >> reporter: that young man is still not ready to go on camera, but he sent us a video and wants to send a message you'll hear coming up after the break. and next up in the courtroom, the oldest daughter speaks. it is jennifer looking her parents in the eyes. >> um, my parents took my whole life from me, but now i'm taking my life back. they almost changed me, but i realized what was happening. i immediately did what i could
to not become like that. i'm strong, and i'm shooting through life like a rocket. >> reporter: it's the parents' turn to speak. david turpin starts, breaks down. >> your honor -- i'm going to have my attorney read my statement for me. >> all right. >> i love my children and i believe my children love me. >> reporter: he asks his lawyer to let him try again. >> i miss all of my children, and i will be praying for them. i long for the opportunity to have contact with them again. >> i want to say to you, your honor, and the court, i'm sorry for everything i've done to hurt my children. i don't want any of them to be sad or depressed because of all of this. i want them to know that mom and dad are going to be okay. >> reporter: and in the courtroom when she said she was sorry for hurting her children?
>> i -- i believed it. i'm gonna be honest. but then i remembered that they both are extremely good at manipulation. whether that was true or not at the courtroom? yeah, it's too late. >> when they cry and stuff, i feel bad. but also it's, like, why? it's just confusing. >> i don't know. i'm never gonna know. i mean, sometimes i think maybe they didn't have a good childhood, but it's still their choice. you always have a choice. >> i don't know what it's called, maybe bipolar. but i definitely think it could have been something like that with her. i've just always known him as a monster. that's the only way i can describe it. >> the sentence will be the same as to both defendants. both defendants are sentenced to life. >> reporter: can you imagine seeing them? >> definitely not any time soon.
i have been up and -- i -- i -- i -- i -- never, never, never. i guess i get afraid of them manipulating the system and getting out and then somehow trying to find us. yeah. >> reporter: there's nothing you think you want to say to them? >> i want to know why, but i would never get that answer. >> reporter: so it's not the -- >> it's just, like, a hundred whys. >> reporter: tonight we've requested statements from david and louise turpin. we have not heard back. they are currently serving their time in separate prisons in california. and three years ago after their parents were sent to prison, we imagined the turpin children finally heading out into their new lives with a team of people who would ensure that they could navigate the world. strangers had even donated money. so, where is that money, and where is the team supposed to be
helping them? >> we've got to shine a light on this. the public deserves to know what their government did and didn't do and how we failed these victims. they need to know that. >> reporter: district attorney mike hestrin says there are a number of agencies in california that should be accountable for what happened to the turpin children after they were freed. >> there are resources for them that they can't access. they're living in squalor. they're living in a crime ridden neighborhoods. there's money for them for their education. they can't access it. >> reporter: this is impossible. coming up next, my colleague david scott and the abc news investigative unit set out to get those answers. >> sir, would you talk to me for a moment? no problem, the sleep number 360 smart bed is temperature balancing so you both sleep just right. and it senses your movements and automatically adjusts to keep you both effortlessly comfortable. so, you can really promise better sleep? yes! you'll know exactly how well you slept,
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i'm david scott with the abc news investigative unit. we needed to go to riverside county to figure out who failed these kids after they escaped their parents and led the district attorney to take the unusual step of speaking out. >> they have been victimized again by the system. and that is unimaginable to me that we could have the very worst case of child abuse that i've ever seen, maybe one of the worst in california history, and that we would then not be able to get it together to give them basic needs, basic necessities. >> it turns out the siblings post-rescue lives have been marred by the county's missteps and mistakes. and the facts of the case have been hidden behind a court-ordered veil of secrecy. >> everything's behind closed doors.
>> but now for the first time, an insider peels back the curtain on what she says happened to the turpin siblings after they entered the county's care. >> they felt betrayed. >> tonight, melissa donaldson is breaking ranks to blow the whistle on the multiple agencies that she says failed to protect the turpin children from further harm. >> did we see kids having to not have a safe place to live or stay at times? yes. did they have enough food at times? they did not. they had to go to churches and eat because they didn't know how to manage money. and some without housing at times. >> without housing. >> at times. >> homeless? >> couch surfing. >> their housing, at some point, was in -- located in one of the worst neighborhoods in this county. >> i will tell you, i would have never placed anybody under my care there. >> one of the adult children was assaulted in one of those environments.
>> i do know they've been in unsafe crime exposure, absolutely. >> we really want to try and understand and help the public understand, you know, frankly, the jeopardy. >> sorry. >> they all lack that sixth sense of fear. they had none of that and they were cast right into the world in a very unsafe, violent inner city area. >> we have to fix it. you would think that this is the time to really get it together and do everything we can, >> they struggle to eat, still. they'll take that as long as the abuser is gone. >> i don't really have a way to get food right now. >> when jordan met diane in july, she had just been released. she says without warning, from extended foster care.
with no plan for food, health care, life skills training or even shelter. >> one of my brothers and me are the ones that don't have a place to really stay, we're just being passed around. >> and the same goes for some of the older children, whose safety and well being was supposed to be guaranteed by the court-appointed riverside public guardian. >> well, where i live is not the best area. >> and this despite more than $600,000 originally raised from generous strangers. most of that money went into an official trust overseen by the court and hidden from public oversight. county officials refused to tell us how much has been spent or on what, but the turpins we spoke to say those funds are hard to access. >> well, when i try to have access, i have difficulty. >> joshua turpin, the 29-year-old sibling of jordan and jennifer, the one you heard earlier reading a letter to the court --
>> that is the past, and this is now. >> sent us a video diary, but did not want to appear on camera. he says the public guardian responsible for managing the siblings' healthcare, nutrition, housing and education routinely denied simple requests. >> when i requested for a mode of transportation, i called the public guardian's office and she refused to let me request for a bike. >> melissa donaldson confirmed that legitimate requests have been turned down. when we asked why officials are restricting the use of private donations, they repeatedly refused to answer, citing court-ordered confidentiality. >> i'm just asking really, really basic questions. you can't tell me any of that? >> after their rescue, the seven minors were placed into foster homes, while the six adults were assigned to deputy public guardian vanessa espinoza, seen here in a selfie when she started the job.
while she worked full-time for the county, she also work in the real estate on the side, according to state records. here she is promoting her work at one of her previous real estate agencies. >> if you guys are interested in buying or selling feel free to contact us. >> according to the adult turpin children we spoke to who were under espinoza's care, she was often unwilling to help them with even their most basic needs, including teaching them how to use public transportation, how to cross the street safely, or how to access their medical and dental benefits. >> when i would ask her for help, she would just tell me, just go google it. >> vanessa espinoza did not respond to repeated requests for comment. >> hi, vanessa. this is david scott calling from abc news. how are you? we recently tried to meet up with her at her real estate office, but she avoided us and drove home. the next day, the county informed us without explanation that espinoza's employment had
ended. while jennifer and the other adult turpins struggled in county guardianship, some of the younger siblings were failed again by the california foster care agency contracted by the county, childnet. county officials have told us that some of the turpin children have been re-victimized in their foster care homes. >> in the instance of the one adult that was a minor, now an adult, she has reported the one foster parent telling her she understands now why her parents chained her up. the comment was egregious. >> but even that paled in comparison to what is alleged to have happened in another of the turpin's foster homes. in fact, one foster family was arrested and charged with abusing multiple children in their care, including at least one turpin. several turpin children remained in that house for three years while the alleged abuse took place. a lawyer for one of the foster family members says his client denies these charges are true. a childnet spokesman would not answer our questions about the turpin case because of
confidentiality laws, saying only, we take our work very seriously, including the extensive vetting of parents. experts who know the system are shocked. >> it horrifies me to think things like this are happening to people who have been abused in a system that was specifically set up to help them. >> no county official agreed to answer for the alleged mishandling of the turpins' case, including the county's top lawyer, gregory priamos. mr. priamos, david scott from abc news. can i ask you, sir, about the dire conditions facing the turpin siblings in this county since they've been in the county's care? in some cases they're walking the streets late at night. sir? so we took our questions to the county's top elected official. excuse me, madam chair, may i approach? the board of supervisors chair, karen spiegel, who dodged them. we've heard credible reports of unsafe housing, of in some cases the siblings relying on food pantries and soup kitchens. >> we are currently looking into
this. >> we have been trying to get these answers, and we have been unable to get anybody to return our calls, so we just figured we would come to you as the chairwoman. >> well, i am not -- have the information you're looking for. we're still in investigation stages, so i don't have anything to share with you. >> in a statement, espinoza's former boss, the head of the public guardian's office, dr. matthew chang, stood by his team's, quote, exceptional work, but says he welcomes an inquiry. but the county's chief executive admitted in a statement, quote, there have been instances in which those we seek to protect have been harmed, and the county is committed to conducting a thorough and transparent review. and so, some of the turpin siblings continue to face dangers and hardships in the county that promised to keep them safe. >> shamefully, the system failed this family. >> tonight, we are not backing
off. abc news has sued to unseal vital documents about the people making decisions, the donated money, and who should provide the promised support. the four youngest children are now together in a foster home, where their siblings say they are happy, while the other nine older children raised in abuse valiantly navigate the world. >> if we can't care for the turpin victims, then how do we have a chance to care for anyone? >> reporter: coming up, a reunion. >> i'm never going to forget him. i always think it would be cool to see him again.
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>> oh, my gosh, guys, we are here? >> i just hope she's happy. jordan turpin. >> hello! >> wow. so good to see you. >> it's so good to see you. >> how you doing? >> i'm okay. i always, like, talk about you and stuff. like, i've told all my siblings to story more than once, and i'm just so thankful, because you saved all of us. >> i'm glad you had that photo. you get all the recognition and credit. >> oh, thank you. >> you did the hard part, the scary part. >> i'm just so thankful it was you because you were so gentle and everything. >> i'm glad it was me, too. >> i think god brought all the right people into my life. >> not just deputy here is that dispatcher who answered the 911 call and sends
a message tonight. >> hi, jordan! you're really brave. you are so strong to go out and do what you did. i want to let you know that the world is so wide and so full of bright and wonderful things. i hope you get to spend the rest of your days going out there and exploring and doing fun stuff and really living life the way you want. >> let us know when you're rolling. >> what question would you ask? >> we pretty much tell everything to each other. >> reporter: and back in the interview, we're almost done. so i invite the two young women who just finished their first interview ever to give their take on my technique. >> so, ms. jordan. >> yes, jennifer. >> what do you see in your future? >> a beautiful house with a handsome husband. maybe a kid some day. an in this ca a nice car. ms. jennifer, where do you see yourself in ten years? >> ten years. big question. >> i'll hopefully have a house. >> nice, nice. >> a nice car. >> ooh. >> and have a published book.
>> i love it. love it. >> traveling. i want to travel the world. >> ooh, really nice. >> and where are you going to travel? what's first stop? >> paris. >> reporter: paris? >> i'm going to have little tea cakes and all that stuff. i'm going tee fashion show. oh, yeah, i'm going paris. >> reporter: watch out, paris. >> here i come. >> reporter: out of a harrowing life, so much hope. no one doubts along the way the mountains will be tall, the challenges great. they'll need a helping happened, but every day the young women who fought their way out are trying to catch up on joy. >> aah! >> how does it feel? >> awesome. >> reporter: jennifer is now in training to be a manager at a restaurant. >> i'm heading to work. >> a big dream of mine is to become a christian pop artist. >> reporter: her favorite song right now is kelly clarkson's --
>> broken and beautiful. ♪ i'm broken and it's beautiful ♪ ♪ i'm broken and it's beautiful ♪ ♪ i'm broken and it's beautiful ♪ >> the way music has helped me, i want to help people with my music. >> i really like doing tiktoks. ♪ savage love ♪ >> i like charlie demill. such a cute family. >> jordan managed to graduate high school in oneier and has been taking college classes. what is your favorite subject to study. >> >> i loved government and i loved english and i loved math. i would say, can i have double homework? i loved the learn, and i was a really fast learner. and i got good grades and i was really happy. >> she recently got food stamps and housing through school, and she has a plan of her own. >> me graduating college, being a book writer or a motivation speaker. when i have kids, i want to make
sure i'm in a good place, i have a good job, because i want to give my kids the best life ever. >> reporter: in the meantime, the sisters say the most important thing in their lives is getting to see their siblings, and trying to help them be happy and safe. what is it like to be together? >> it feels at home being with all of us. every time we're together it's a very special moment, because we always know at the end of the day we're always going to be each other. >> reporter: and their brother who sent the video has a message, too. >> thank you for your time, thank you. thank you for everything. this is a big help to be able to, you know, just get this out and let it be heard. >> i want to last name turpin to be remembered as a name of strength. i don't want jennifer turpin, oh, that poor, poor, you know, 30-year-old woman who went through a tragic life.
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from jc dugard, a young woman i met years ago who stunned the nation with her courage. she established a organization and tonight they created a fund to receive donations for the 13 turpin children. she writes the people who helped her changed her life and says now it's our turn to pay it forward. if you'd like to learn more about the turpin siblings and other children facing these challenges go to the abc news "20/20" website and our social media pages. i'm diane sawyer. from all of us at abc news, good night.