CALIFORNIA CITY, Calif. — Orrin and Orson West were born Cincere and Classic Pettus in 2016 and 2017, respectively. In 2018, Trazell (some reports spell it Trezol) and Jacqueline West became foster parents to Orrin and Orson after the Department of Human Services took them from their birth mother, Ryan Dean. The Wests officially adopted them in April 2019 and changed their names.
In September 2020, the Wests moved into a three-bedroom home at 10717 Aspen Ave. in California City, about 70 miles southeast of Bakersfield and 110 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The West family had previously resided in Bakersfield.
Besides Orrin and Orson, the Wests have two other adopted children and two biological children.
Orrin, 4, and Orson, 3, were last seen at 5:45 p.m. on Dec. 21, 2020, playing with chalk on a patio in the backyard. Some reports say an earlier time. Trazell West was outside gathering and hauling firewood to build a fire while Jacqueline West wrapped Christmas gifts inside. Jacqueline West claimed she did not want the boys to see the gifts, so the couple sent them outside to play in the dark. She failed to mention her other four children’s whereabouts during this time or why she did not send all the children out to play.
West said he opened the back gate to bring the wood inside the home, and the boys were in the backyard. When he came back outside, the boys were gone. West realized he had left the gate open and panicked.
After a quick search failed to locate the boys, the Wests called the police.
California City police and volunteers searched the area surrounding the West’s home that night and all day the following day but found no sign of the boys. The neighbors told the police they did not remember ever seeing the boys playing outside.
California City Police Chief Jon Walker spoke with KGET in January.
“We’ve looked everywhere possible in a house we could possibly look. We brought in search dogs, cadaver dogs, any dog you can think of has been in that house and has not had any kids anywhere in the house.”
Authorities dug in the West’s yard and searched the home about two days after the boys vanished.
Interestingly, the Wests were noticeably absent from the searches. Child Services detained their other four children, and they are in foster care as of this writing.
Investigators interviewed the couple and said they have been cooperative. However, it’s evident authorities were highly suspicious of the couple because of the digging and searching in and around the home. Furthermore, earlier this month, police used an imaging device at the West home. The device checks for anomalies present in the ground and is similar to sonar. It can reach 12 to 15 deep, according to Police Chief Jon Walker. However, they did not find anything significant.
Around Valentine’s Day, an electronic billboard showing the boys’ pictures was erected on southbound Hwy. 99 in Bakersfield, near the Norris Road Exit.
KBAK Eyewitness News acquired security cam footage taken two days before the boys disappeared.
According to the adoptive parents, they left home on Dec. 19 with their six children to do some Christmas shopping in Bakersfield. However, the security footage shows one adult holding the door open while only four children get inside the West van. Later in the day, the camera picked up Trazell and Jacqueline West returning to their residence alone.
The Wests claimed they dropped off four of the children at a family member’s home that day. The other children said they last saw the boys on Dec. 19.
News of the toddler boys’ disappearance spread like fire across the country. Soon after, the Wests began receiving death threats over the phone from strangers who accused them of having something to do with the missing boys.
Bill Garcia is a private detective investigating the boys’ case. He said he met a California City woman who said she saw the two brothers at the Albertson’s parking lot in Tehachapi on Dec. 23, two days after the Wests last saw them. Tehachapi is about 30 miles west of California City.
Two adult males accompanied the boys — one was black, and the other could have been black; she wasn’t sure. Each man had a hold of one of the boys’ hands. The situation did not appear out of the ordinary. Only when she heard about the disappearance did she realize the two boys were Orrin and Orson West. She said she contacted CCPD but had not heard back.
Garcia told Eyewitness News that authorities should have focused the search in desolate rural parts of Tehachapi, like Sand Canyon and surrounding areas.
Ryan Dean assisted in the search for her children and blamed social services for allowing this to happen.
She last saw her boys in 2018. Orrin loves music and liked taking pictures with her. During her previous visits with the boys, he did not want to be in the photos, which struck her oddly.
The boys’ biological family accused the Department of Human Services of being responsible for their disappearance because social workers did not return the boys to their mother. The family believes the foster and adoptive system in California needs reform; they are not the only ones.
Protestors gathered outside the Department’s building in a rally to continue raising awareness of the West brothers and demanding change in the child welfare system.
Authorities have not named any suspects or persons of interest in the case. The Wests recently moved back to Bakersfield.
Both boys are described as three feet tall and 30-40 pounds. They were last seen wearing black sweatshirts and gray sweatpants.
A cash reward of $122,000 is being offered for information regarding the whereabouts of the West brothers.
If you have any information regarding this case, please call the California City Police Department at (760) 373-8606. If you want to remain anonymous, you can call the Kern County Secret Witness line at (661) 322-4040.
True Crime Diva’s Thoughts
This one seems obvious – the adoptive parents are involved in some way. I think we have a few scenarios here:
- Someone abducted and murdered the boys.
- The boys wandered off, and something happened to them.
- Trezell and Jacqueline West killed the boys.
- The Wests sold the boys for money.
- The West handed Orrin and Orson off to people they know who are concealing their whereabouts.
If the woman did see Orrin and Orson with two men in the Albertson’s parking lot, then maybe the Wests sold them for money or handed them off to people they know. The children did not seem to be afraid of the men or in distress, so perhaps they did know them.
On Dec. 19, the neighbor’s security cam did not show the boys getting into the van, and the Wests did not offer a public explanation for their whereabouts that I could find. And where was the other parent? The other West children said they last saw the boys that day, so I think that was when they were killed or sold.
Yes, I do acknowledge the fact that in that short time frame — when Trazell went into the house and came back out — a random stranger could have kidnapped the two boys. However, I’m not convinced.
For one, you’d think that Trazell would have seen or heard something, like a car speeding away. He could not have been in the home that long. If they had wandered off, he would have found them. Two, California City is very small, so the chances of a random child kidnapper wandering the streets are probably slim. Three, most kidnappers would probably have taken only one child because taking one is easier than two unless there was more than one kidnapper. Four, no one heard any screams coming from the area of the West home. I would think if a stranger grabbed them unexpectedly, the boys would have screamed for their adoptive parents. Finally, the Wests lied about their activities on Dec. 19 and have not helped search for the boys to date, which I find suspicious although not unprecedented.
If it was cold enough to build a fire, it was too cold for Orrin and Orson West to play outside in the DARK without COATS. Jacqueline told Ryan Dean that it was dark when they sent the boys outside.
Jacqueline West claimed she did not want the boys to see the gifts she was wrapping. Have you, as a parent, ever wrapped Christmas gifts when your children were present? Or were you like me and waited until they were asleep in their beds? Hell, she could have wrapped them in the couple’s BEDROOM with the door SHUT and locked, if possible.
I honestly do think the Wests know more than they are saying, but who knows? It’s easy to blame them, but we won’t know what truly happened until the boys are found. And let’s hope that is soon.
What do you think happened to the West brothers?