Parents charged with murder in deaths of their adoptive sons, ages 4 and 3
Reported missing almost 15 months ago, the boys' bodies have not been found, but the Kern County, California, DA has pressed charges.
The adoptive parents of two young boys who were reported missing nearly 15 months ago from their Southern California home have been charged with their murder.
According to CNN, Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer announced the charges at a press conference on Wednesday.
“This morning, I am saddened to announce that the investigation has revealed that Orrin and Orson West are deceased,” Zimmer said.
“The investigation has also revealed that they died three months before their adoptive parents reported them missing. However, I am pleased to announce that this week, the Kern County grand jury indicted Trezell and Jacqueline West — the adoptive parents — for the murder of Orrin and Orson West.”
The man and woman, adoptive parents of the 3- and 4-year-old boys, have been charged with two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of child abuse, and one count of false report in an emergency.
The bodies of the two boys have not been found.
“I would like to emphasize that the fact that law enforcement has not found their bodies does not preclude a murder prosecution,” Zimmer said at the press conference, per KTLA. “As a matter of fact, there have been many, hundreds of what we call no-body homicides prosecuted across the United States successfully.”
According to the report, the Wests have four other children — two who are biological and two more who are adopted. All of the children are in protective custody.
Zimmer added that the arrests came after additional information was received with the assistance of the police in Bakersfield, California where the family previously lived prior to September 2020.
The boys were reported missing on December 21, 2020.
According to Law & Crime—a legal news site created by attorney and television legal correspondent Dan Abrams, it is possible that the boys were killed before the family moved from Bakersfield to California City.
The report said that at the press conference, a reporter asked if the boys had ever come to California City, to which Zimmer replied, “good question.” She did not elaborate further on the specifics of the case citing California ethics laws.
The Law & Crime report notes that there are still questions surrounding how the boys were placed in the West home. They note that Orrin and Orson were born Classic Pettus and Cincere Pettus. Their biological father, Charles Pettus, has raised concerns about the adoption process and has filed a lawsuit against Kern County officials.
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