CALIFORNIA CITY, Calif. (KGET) – It has now been two months since two little boys vanished from their home in California City. There are so many parts to this mystery. A 3-year-old and a 4-year-old vanish on a dark, cold night in California City – around 76 miles east of Bakersfield. The city’s 14,000 residents and thousands from across the nation are searching desperately for answers. Here’s what we know.
Three-year-old Orson and 4-year-old Orrin West were reported missing in California City on Dec. 21. Authorities still have no idea where the boys could be.
“We’ve questioned multiple people, we’ve searched multiple places,” said Chief of Police Jon Walker. “So at this point we have nothing that actually shows us or proves what happened to the boys or where they’re at.”
Orrin and Orson were born in Bakersfield. Their mom is Ryan Dean. She gave the boys their birth names – Cinsere and Classic. Their last names were Pettus.
“I was living fine with them before they came and got them,” Dean said. “A small incident happened.”
Child Protective Services took the boys near the beginning of 2018.
“I was at work, I noticed my baby’s cry wasn’t normal when I got home and I took him straight to the hospital,” Dean said. “They say his femur bone was broken and twisted.”
The baby she’s talking about is Orrin West. He had a broken thigh bone, but Dean said she didn’t know how it happened. The last time she saw her boys was at the end of 2018.
“I have a good background,” Dean said. “I don’t have a police record, never been in jail.”
In 2018, Trezell West, 34, and Jacqueline West, 31, became the boys’ foster parents. The West family adopted them in 2019, and renamed them Orrin and Orson West. But on Dec. 21, the boys disappeared.
“And thats all I want is to find our babies, that’s it,” Trezell said.
Trezell West says his wife, Jacqueline, was wrapping Christmas presents at around 4 p.m. She told Orrin and Orson to take their chalk and go out to the fenced backyard to draw on a concrete slab. Trezell wanted to build a fire in the fireplace and he went out the back door with the boys. He opened a side gate and left the yard to gather wood. He walked 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,” Trezell said. “I realized I left the gate open and I panicked.”
A neighbor’s security camera shows at 4:32 he jumped into the family’s white van. He says he drove around the neighborhood calling their names and talking to neighbors.
He then called police more than an hour later. 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 said.
“The best are out here searching,” Trezell said.
A few days later, police got a warrant to search the house. They sent K9s inside multiple times to attempt to find 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.
“I do suspect foul play,” Walker said.
Law enforcement has gone in and out of the house many times, occasionally removing evidence.
“We’ve looked everywhere possible in a house we could possibly look,” Walker said.
They even dug up the backyard in the beginning of the investigation. But the chief says these searches didn’t reveal any new information. The California City Police Department has 13 officers. The FBI and Bakersfield Police quickly joined the investigation as supporting agencies.
“We consider those kids our kids, and we’re not used to this kind of thing happening in our town,” Walker said.
Police say the adoptive parents have been cooperative. They have four other kids – two biological, and two more adopted. Walker would not confirm their ages, but the adoptive parents say that Orrin and Orson are the youngest of their siblings.
Walker wouldn’t say whether police have questioned those children. But he did confirm they 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 Dec. 23. They left their house in California City and haven’t returned since around Christmas.
“They’ve been back a couple of times to either take items out or whatever,” Walker said.
Even though the West family wasn’t home, somebody threw a rock through the front window. Another screwed a large sign into their front awning that asked “Where are the boys?”
“Even though it was violent, they did have good intentions,” said Laura Romero, a California City resident. “They want to bring the parents out to talk.”
Police say the Wests are now in Bakersfield – where they lived before moving to California City in 2020. The extended adoptive family has released two statements. The first offered a $30,000 reward for anyone with information leading to the boys. And the second asked for the community to stop attacking their family.
“People took this very serious, we’re a small town,” said LaMiya Patrick, another resident.
Several businesses and individuals have also put up reward money. The various rewards now add up $122,000.
“There’s more than just a certain family that’s hurting here,” said James Robinson, a local pastor. “And this is a great opportunity for somebody to come forward with the right information and help us get to the truth.”
Ryan Dean – the biological mother – still lives in Bakersfield and has joined a few of the search parties for the boys.
“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.”
Members of her extended family have held multiple prayer vigils and search parties, spreading the word through social media and flyers. They also made T-shirts, masks, and sweatshirts with pictures of the boys on them.
“It’s actually keeping it alive in people’s minds and hearts,” said Keisha Stevenson, a friend of the biological family. “You just never know if they’re still out there or not. We have to stand on faith, don’t let our hope die, so it just keeps us going, we keep going, it gives us the push. It gives us the strength.”
Most recently — they raised money for two billboards seeking information on the boys.
“Not everybody watches the news,” Wills said. “So maybe someone that’s traveling can see it.”
One Bakersfield resident – Jennifer Nobles – has no relation to the boys but took money out of her own pocket to put up two billboards alongside Mohawk Street near Rosedale Highway.
“I cant stop thinking about it,” Nobles said. “Thinking of a 3 and a 4 year old child, out of nowhere just poof they’re gone? Never see them again and it’s going on two months. I just I can’t grasp that reality of it.”
Police say they’re still responding to every tip they receive. Anyone with information on the two missing boys can call the California City Police Department at 760-373-8606. To remain anonymous you can call the secret witness line at 661-322-4040.