BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – On December 21st, 4-year-old Orrin and 3-year-old Orson West were reported missing from their home in California City. One hundred days later, there remains no named suspects in the case, the mystery of what happened deepening as each day passes without a clue on their whereabouts.
So, let’s take it back to the very beginning: 3-year-old Orson and 4-year-old Orrin West were born in Bakersfield. Their mom, Ryan Dean, gave the boys their birth names, Cincere, with a C, and Classic. Their last names were Pettus.
“I was at work, I noticed my baby’s cry wasn’t normal,” Dean said about Orrin West. “When I got home and I took him straight to the hospital. They say his femur bone was broken and twisted.”
He had a broken thigh bone, but she said she doesn’t know how it happened. She said this injury led to Child Protective Services taking the boys from her.
“I have a good background. I don’t have a police record, never been in jail,” Dean said.
The last time Dean saw her boys was at the end of 2018. That year, 34-year-old Trezell West and 31-year-old Jacqueline West became the boys’ foster parents. The Wests, then living in Bakersfield, adopted them in 2019, and renamed them Orrin and Orson West. The West family already had four other kids, two biological and two adopted. They moved to California City the next year, and, on December 21st – 2020.
“Those are our babies and we want them back,” Trezell West said.
Trezell West says his wife, Jacqueline, was wrapping Christmas presents that afternoon.
“We thought it was a good idea that our youngest two go outside and play with chalk on the back patio,” Trezell West said.
Trezell wanted to build a fire in their fireplace and he went out the back door with the boys. He opened a side gate and left the yard to gather wood, walking past the boys as he carried the wood into the house.
“I came in the house, saw them there, went into the house, came back out, didn’t see them there,” West said. “I realized I left the gate open and I panicked.”
A neighbor’s security camera shows at 4:32 p.m. Trezell jumped into the family’s white van.
Police said later that the camera was an hour off – and the time was actually 5:32 p.m.
“I searched, I searched, I called their names,” West said. “Talked to a gentleman on the street on the other side over there, he didn’t see them.”
He then called police just before 6. California City Police and dozens of locals searched the area for the kids that night. But the adoptive parents say police told them to stay inside their home.
“The cops told us the best are out here,” Jacqueline West said.
Searchers had no luck and concern grew as the boys remained missing overnight. The next day, after searching the town and the nearby desert, California City police got a warrant for the Wests’ house. It was the first of many examinations of that property on Aspen Avenue.
They sent K9s inside to track the scent of the boys. The chief says the dogs found the scent inside the home, but didn’t smell the children leaving the house.
“What I do truly believe: That night there’s no way that they could have got out of that neighborhood without some sort of assistance from an adult,” said California City Chief of Police, Jon Walker.
Law enforcement has gone in and out of the house many times, occasionally removing evidence.
“We’ve searched every possible nook and cranny in that house multiple times,” Walker said.
They even dug up the backyard in the beginning of the investigation. The chief says these searches didn’t reveal any new information.
“I am 110% certain those boys are not in that house,” Walker said.
The FBI and Bakersfield Police quickly joined the investigation as supporting agencies.
“Almost everybody I run into that’s the first thing they say – ‘Have you heard anything about those babies?'” said the Mayor of California City, Jeanie O’Laughlin.
Police say the adoptive parents have been cooperative.
“We’ve questioned everyone around them,” Walker said. “We start with the immediate family and work our way out.”
Chief Walker confirmed the other four kids of the adoptive parents were taken into foster care and will remain there until a court case is settled.
“The parents are given a court ordered case plan and if they complete what’s asked of them then they can get their children back,” said Jana Slagle, a spokesperson for the Department of Human Services in Kern County.
Trezell and Jacqueline West haven’t spoken to the public or given any information on the boys since December 23rd. They left their house in California City and haven’t returned since around Christmas.
“We just dropped off some gifts,” said Thomas Brown, California City resident. “Right now the only thing we can do is give gifts because they weren’t able to get gifts on Christmas.”
Since then, someone threw a rock through the house’s front window. Someone also screwed a large sign into the porch asking “Where are the boys?”
“I don’t think this is the time to start getting rambunctious about the situation,” said Laura Romero, California City resident. “We’re supposed to come together, unite as one and find these kids.”
Police say the Wests are now back in Bakersfield. Their extended family has released three statements: The first offered a $30,000 reward for anyone with information leading to the boys. The second asked for the community to stop attacking their family. Trezell’s mother wrote a third statement – pleading for help in finding her grandsons.
“I can’t get any peace,” said Shyann Sanford, California City resident. “These are our boys. Our California City boys are missing and we want to know where they’re at.”
Several businesses and individuals have also put up reward money. The various rewards now add up to $125,000.
“There’s more than just a certain family that’s hurting here,” said James Robinson, a local pastor.
Ryan Dean, the biological mother, still lives in Bakersfield. Members of her extended family have held multiple prayer vigils and search parties, spreading the word through social media and banners.
“It’s hard but we have to stay strong for the parents, the mother and them,” said Rosanna Wills, cousin of the boys. “The community’s been doing their part in a major way. Without them, we’d be lost.”
The extended biological family raised money to put up three billboards in Bakersfield seeking information on the boys.
“Their faces shouldn’t be on a billboard at all,” said Diondra Key, from the biological family. “They should be with their family.”
Then, two people with no relation to the boys took money out of their own pockets to put up three more billboards. Making for a total of six throughout Kern County.
“A large part of the interviews and follow-up needs to be conducted in Bakersfield,” said Sgt. Robert Pair with BPD.
On March 1st – Bakersfield Police became the lead agency on the investigation. Five days later – more than 50 officers and FBI agents searched for evidence in a dirt lot in southeast Bakersfield. It’s located near the Casa Loma Apartments, where Trezell and Jacqueline West used to live.
“I believe there’s a large amount of case development in this investigation,” Sgt. Pair said.
BPD also served a search warrant at a neighborhood in East Bakersfield, where the mother of Trezell West lives.
“We’re not going to end this case until we know the facts, so it will be brought to light based on continued investigation and where the details lead us,” Sgt. Pair said.