It is my privilege to salute Jennifer and Jordan Turpin, two young women who escaped and started over after a lifetime of the unimaginable. David and Louise Turpin raised their 13 children in secret squalor and tortuous rules, until, to save her siblings, Jordan found the courage at age 17 to leap into the world she’d never known. We must call their recent appearances testimonies, not interviews, in this next phase of their lives.
Recently, Diane Sawyer and ABC introduced Jordan (21) and Jennifer Turpin (33) to the world. These two women are mature, driven and survivors. My heart goes out to them and their 11 siblings, who range from elementary school age to the mid-30’s, all released recently from a bizarre and abusive world no one can call ‘childhood’. A few states actually paid the children’s mother Louise to “home school” her brood (The parents really needed them home to hide signs of abuse). Louise Turpin taught her children nothing, preferring to shop and hoard in her free time. The biggest tortures were starvation as the resting norm.
I feel conflicted about even intro’ing why I’d know or write about these beautiful women. However, the backstory is essential to understanding how powerful their current story is.
In January 2018, I heard of the Turpin “family” due to my interests in true crime and particularly women as victims, and unfortunately children as well. For some reason, a religious West Virginia couple decided having as many babies as possible (and estranging from their families who could help) was the way to go in life. 13 children and decades of prolonged life in squalor later, Jordan Turpin crawled out the window to call 911 on a stolen cell phone.
Fortunately, the responding deputy was experienced and compassionate enough not to treat Jordan as teenage girls are treated when they report sexual and physical abuse or trafficking: as runaways who need to be returned to the very parent who provoked their flights, or juvenile delinquents, or psychiatric cases who must be hospitalized and force-medicated. For this reason, Jordan’s call cracked open almost 30 years of child and protective systems abuse. Responding deputies and medical staff estimated a few emaciated children were on the brink of death.
Plenty of news, videos and online content exist to properly detail the extent of physical, emotional and nutritional torture even adult children experienced; their isolation from society, lack of education and years of little to no sunlight or physical exercise impacted the older children from leaving even though they were adults. Their parents are in jail for the rest of their lives but in heart wrenching courtroom footage, both parents and children expressed love. My purposes here are not to add to their notoriety but to celebrate their children who survived.
Jennifer and Jordan Turpin have become the faces for their family now, going forward. Their interviews have turned the case from a horrible story to a triumphant, powerful display of survival. I hope they are flooded with book deals, speaking engagements and other offers to testify about their lives. They are so good at expressing their feelings, emotions and thoughts- fast learners after long lives without access or exposure to strangers, lest they spill the family secrets.
Please pray for joy and self-fulfillment for all the Turpin family children. Jordan, 21, is the now-young woman who escaped as a teenager. She credits Justin Beiber (among other things) with leading her to a inner light and courage to dream a better world existed for her. Jennifer, 33, is the clan’s oldest child, now its closest thing to a matriarch. She is still really only a girl herself developmentally, with what she wasn’t allowed to experience or learn and still must catch up on, but I sensed the spirit of real woman and even mother about protecting her siblings. I know they will grow, heal and fulfill themselves as long as the public continues to support and love them.