‘We live in filth’: Prosecutors play 911 call from Turpin daughter’s escape

PERRIS, Calif. -- Disturbing new details emerged as a Perris couple accused of holding their 13 children captive and torturing them appeared in court Wednesday morning.

David and Louise Turpin each face 12 counts of torture and false imprisonment, seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult and six counts of child abuse. David Turpin, 56, has also been charged with a lewd act on a child under 14 by force, fear or duress. They each face 94 years to life in prison if convicted. They have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The couple's preliminary hearing started with a recording of the dramatic 911 call placed by the couple's 17-year-old daughter, who told the dispatcher that she had escaped through a window from her abusive parents, and that two of her little sisters were chained to a bed inside the home.

The teen told police she didn't get out of the house much and it took her some time to give the dispatcher her address. "We live in filth and sometimes I wake up and can't breathe," she said on the recording played Wednesday.

A deputy who testified later said the teen spoke like a child and was dirty, with hair that appeared to be unwashed and dirt caked on her skin. He told the courtroom that the young woman claimed to be fed once or twice a day -- she said she ate so many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches they began to make her sick. The deputy added that the teen detailed sexual abuse and routine beatings for punishment.

Testimony continued Wednesday afternoon, when prosecutors showed pictures of the soiled and stained clothes worn by the siblings, who told investigators they only got a bath about once a year.

The Turpin parents were arrested on Jan. 14 after their daughter's 911 call. Authorities discovered 12 children, ages 2 to 29, some of them were chained to furniture.

The children were malnourished and living in "deplorable conditions" according to the Riverside County District Attorney's Office. The children were only allowed to shower once a year, were often restrained by ropes and chains as a form of punishment and their parents would buy food without allowing them to eat any of it.

The couple home-schooled their children, and officials said social services had never been called to the residence.

The children were eventually released from the hospital and are living in three separate homes, officials said. The two youngest are in a foster home in Riverside County, while four others are at another home in the county. The seven adult children are living in another home, a source told CNN.