Two Turpin sisters, who and their 11 siblings were arrested years before they fled in 2018, spoke for the first time about the abuse they endured.
"The only word I know I call hell," said one of the sisters in a special "20/20" clip coming with Diane Sawyer.
Disturbing details of the case surfaced in January 2018, after one of the girls fled their home in Perris, California, and called 911 using a cellphone she was traveling with. The girl, who was 17 years old at the time, told police her brothers and sisters were being held by their parents, David and Louise Turpin, while others were in chains, investigators said.
Police responded by initially thinking the girl was a baby because she was thin, according to investigators. When police entered the house - now known as the "House of Horrors" - they found children between the ages of 2 and 29 kept in a "dark and smelly place," investigators said.
Some of the children were chained to their beds and furniture by chains and locks and many of them told police they were "starving," according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.
In Sawyer's interview, the girl who called 911 spoke of the courage to finally escape.
"I think he was the one who was close to death many times," he said.
"It was too much now or it never happened. If something happened to me, at least I died trying," the girl added.
Riverside County County Attorney Mike Hestrin said the abuse began as neglected during the 17 years the family lived in Fort Worth, Texas, and escalated when they moved to California in 2010.
The couple's youngest child is the only one who seems to have not been abused.
According to prosecutors, the children were given only one meal a day and were allowed to bathe once a year. They got into trouble for things like playing in the water while washing their hands. Prosecutors said the punishment ranged from being beaten and strangled and tied to their beds without going to the toilet for months on end.
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David and Louise Turpin also baked pies and let the kids eat, and bought toys but refused to let the kids open them.
The children spent most of their time indoors but occasionally took family trips, including one to Las Vegas to renew their parents' vows.
Authorities say only one child, a son, is allowed to leave home to attend a community college but is often accompanied by his mother.
One of the daughters is said to be the victim of her father's sexual misconduct, according to prosecutors.
Parents have pleaded guilty to 14 counts of harassment, adult-dependent abuse, child abuse and false imprisonment in 2019. They were sentenced to life imprisonment.
"Escape from a House of Horror - Diane Sawyer's Special Event" aired on November 19 at 9:01 p.m. on ABC.