CALIFORNIA CITY, Calif. (KGET) — In 2020, there were 65,202 missing children reported in California, according to the California Department of Justice. That number includes 30 stranger abductions and 1,588 parental abductions. Two of those missing children: Orrin and Orson West.
The boys were reported missing on December 21, 2020. The California Department of Justice breaks up the number of missing children into different categories, but the category the West boys fall under remains unknown.
A vast majority of those reported turned out to be runaways who returned home safely. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 91% of missing children are endangered runaways, 5% are family abductions and less than 1% of missing children are due to nonfamily abductions.
“A stranger abduction, thank God is just so very very rare,” said retired Bakersfield Police Sergeant and Detective Bill Darbee.
Darbee said he has seen it all. The heinous crimes that can surface when least expected, even right here in Kern County.
“The boldness and the heinous type nature of a stranger abducting a child,” said Darbee. “Can you think of anything more gutsy for a bad guy to do? Bank robbery is pretty big, rape is pretty big, murder is pretty big, but taking a child usually for one reason, it’s usually sexually motivated.”
Two local cases that have stuck with Darbee through the years are that of Deisy Herrera and Jessica Martinez. Martinez went missing from the front yard of her Bakersfield home in 1990, and weeks later, her body was found in a field. Herrera went missing in 1987 and she was never found. Her case is still open.
“So those are the two cases that I recall that one had the worst-case scenario and the other one we are hoping for a better case scenario, but they were complete stranger abductions, so extremely rare and when that happens you just can’t help but think, this is not going to end well,” Darbee said.
A cold case occurs when all evidentiary leads are exhausted, but for most detectives assigned to a case, the faces of the missing victims are never truly forgotten.
Retired Sergeant Bill Darbee and his partner Retired FBI Analyst Jeannie Denning are starting a consulting firm with the goal of helping law enforcement solve cases like this one, and provide families with support and closure. To contact them for more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on missing children, visit The Center for Missing and Exploited Children or the National Crime Information Center’s Missing Person website.