BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A stunning development has occurred in the case of missing California City brothers Orrin and Orson West with murder charges filed Tuesday against Trezell West, their adoptive father.
Trezell West was not listed in custody as of 5 p.m. He’s charged with two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of willful cruelty to a child and falsely reporting an emergency. Later Tuesday evening, the adoptive mother Jaqueline West was also charged with second-degree murder.
Orrin, 4, and 3-year-old Orson were reportedly last seen Dec. 21, 2020, playing outside the home where they lived with adoptive parents Trezell and Jacqueline West.
Trezell West said he had been gathering firewood and briefly went back inside. When he came out the boys were gone, he said.
They were reported missing to the California City Police Department that day. The department searched the home and brought the Wests in for questioning.
Police Chief John Walker told media in late December 2020 that foul play was suspected but nothing was found while searching the home. He said he didn’t believe they wandered into the desert because a thorough search aided by a helicopter with infrared took place covering a 5-mile perimeter.
Also, it was only 30 degrees Fahrenheit that night. Walker said the cold would have slowed the children.
Through the support of several local businesses and organizations, more than $100,000 in reward money was offered to anyone with information that led to the discovery of the boys.
In early March of last year, the Bakersfield Police Department took over as the lead agency in the investigation from the Cal City Police Department. The FBI and National Center for Missing & Exploited Children were also involved.
By June, the BPD said 44 search warrants had been served, 83 people interviewed and 170 items seized. Police did not elaborate on what was seized.
Police said 16 “mass area” searches had been conducted at that point and investigators had searched three locations outside the state and followed up on more than 200 tips. Data was extracted from cellular and electronic devices and seized items forensically examined.
All family members connected to the boys were interviewed.
The boys’ biological father, Charles Pettus, has filed a lawsuit against Kern County alleging officials were negligent in taking the boys from their birth parents and placing them in the custody of the West family.
Pettus told 17 News in December he couldn’t understand how the boys went missing after the county took them from him, supposedly for safe keeping.
“I don’t want my kids to be deceased. I want them to come back,” he said at the time. “My kids is all I got. After my parents pass it’s just me and my kids.”