Turpin Sisters Who Escaped Calif. 'House of Horrors' Say Parents 'Used the Bible' to Explain Abusive Behavior – PEOPLE.com

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Speaking with Diane Sawyer on this week’s episode of 20/20, Jordan and Jennifer Turpin opened up about their previous life in the “House of Horrors”
Two children who escaped the Turpin family "House of Horrors" are breaking their silence about their traumatic living situation in Perris, Calif.
In an interview with Diane Sawyer for ABC's latest episode of 20/20, 33-year-old Jennifer Turpin and 21-year-old Jordan Turpin shared new details of the physical and emotional abuse they endured at the hands of their parents, David and Louise, before they were rescued in 2018.
"If I did one little thing wrong, I was going to be beaten," Jennifer said. "And not just beat, but beat till I bled."
As the oldest of 13 children, Jennifer was forced by her parents to discipline the younger siblings by putting them in cages. If she didn't lock them up, she said, she would be caged herself.
The women shared that their father used belts, sticks, dog kennels and homemade cages as tools for punishment, in addition to chaining children to their beds and pulling on their hair when they misbehaved.
"They literally used the Bible to explain their behavior to us," Jennifer said. "They loved to point out things in Deuteronomy, saying that, 'We have the right to do this to you.' … That they even had the right to kill us if we didn't listen."
RELATED: Turpin Sisters Who Escaped Calif. 'House of Horrors' Speak Out: 'Only Word I Know to Call It Is "Hell"'
The Turpin children were fed once a day, typically a peanut butter sandwich, while their parents ate regular portions consisting of fast food and frozen meals. Jennifer was often tasked with preparing meals for her parents — meals she wasn't allowed to eat.
Jordan recalls feeling so hungry at times that she resorted to eating leaves, grass, or ketchup poured over ice cubes.
The 13 Turpin children were aged 2 to 29 at the time that they were rescued, thanks to the bravery of Jordan — then 17.
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On Jan. 14, 2018, Jordan and Jennifer heard their mother say that the family was moving to Oklahoma.
"If we went to Oklahoma, there was a big chance that some of us would have died," Jordan said, noting that her siblings were too malnourished to make the journey — a detail supported by medical professionals, who said that some of the children were too frail to walk, according to ABC News.
Jordan decided that she had no time to waste. She took a deactivated cell phone she had found in the home, gathered photo evidence of her sisters chained to the bed, and snuck out a window to call 911 and get help.
RELATED: Jordan Turpin Recalls Harrowing Moment She Placed 911 Call that Saved Her and Siblings From Abuse
After nervously sharing her story with authorities, police searched the Turpin home and found enough cause to take David and Louise into custody. In 2019, both parents were sentenced to 25 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to 14 felony counts including cruelty to an adult dependent, child cruelty, torture and false imprisonment.
"I was always terrified that if I called the cops or tried to escape, I would get caught, and then I knew I would die if I got caught," Jordan said. "But at the end, when I saw all my younger siblings, I knew that's what I had to do."
Diane Sawyer's exclusive 20/20 interview with the Turpin sisters aired Friday night on ABC News. Escape from a House of Horrors is available for streaming on ABC News digital platforms and Hulu.
If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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