CALIFORNIA CITY, Calif. (KGET) — Through the pain, anguish and mystery that came from the disappearance of Orrin and Orson West, a community was brought together to stand alongside a family longing for the return of their two boys.
Mothers, local business owners and retired law enforcement who came together to continue asking the question: Where are the boys?
Every day, for the past year, thousands of drivers driving on Highway 99 see the faces of missing brothers Orson and Orrin West.
“I watched the interview with this lady RoRo and Kesha and they were standing on what I could tell was Highway 99 by some billboards and they started talking about a GoFundMe that they had and they were trying to generate funds thru that GoFundMe for billboards to find these missing children,” said Jennifer Nobles, a community supporter.
It was an interview that countless others watched but one that inspired Jennifer Nobles to get involved.
“I think I’m just an average person,” Nobles said. “I’m a mom of three and I’ve always had that fear of kidnapping; I’ve had that interest in true crime. But what compelled me to this story, I just have to say, their ages being 3 and 4 and going missing at the same time.”
An average mom, she said. Inspirational, others said.
“It did inspire one person and that person was pretty big,” Nobles said.
That person was Duty Ron, a YouTuber and retired NYPD officer who has been following the case.
“Once it inspired him, the donations have just been coming in,” Nobles said.
“He’s been keeping it up all year, he’s a blessing to have, because it gets expensive,” said Rosanna Wills, the biological cousin of Orrin and Orson West.
Watch the full interview with YouTuber Duty Ron.
“Let’s just say these were my children and they went missing I would just hope and pray that the community would come together the way they did for these two guys,” Nobles said.
“It’s a blessing to have reward money, having people half across the world sharing the information to get the awareness out there,” Wills said.
Businesses, churches and even online sleuths have contributed to the campaign to keep awareness of the missing boys in the limelight. A reward for any information that can wrap the case still stands at $125,000.
“People forget really quick, they’ll go on to the next story and the next story,” said Sheri Smith, the mother of Desiree Thompson who has been missing from California City for nearly 10 years.
Month after month, strangers, family and friends gathered to remember the boys, displaying Orrin and Orson’s faces on shirts and face coverings. That was the work of Keisha Johnson, a friend to the biological family who met the boys while they were in foster care and who felt compelled to help.
“I’m very emotional when it comes to this whole situation, they didn’t deserve it, no kid deserves to come up missing,” Johnson said.
For months, Johnson had designed, printed and shipped hundreds of pieces of merchandise spreading news of the missing brothers.
“I’ve sent to Canada, Mexico, Hawaii, I’ve sent shirts all over to different people, at first I was just doing it out of my pocket,” Johnson said.
“People are being found because of people spreading the word just like we are doing and it happens,” Nobles said. “It helps, people are alive some aren’t, it’s hard no matter what, you got to take it all in and move forward.”
And moving forward is what this community is doing. Awareness campaigns are continuing this Christmas season with toy drives that teach children about stranger danger, while also reminding people that the boys are still missing.
Any information in the disappearance of the boys can be reported to BPD and a reward still stands at $125,000.