BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — After missing for more than a year, Orrin and Orson West, who were first reported missing in December 2020 from California City, are believed to be dead. And the timeline of them missing is not what was originally reported.
The Bakersfield Police Department arrested the adoptive parents around Tuesday evening. They are currently being held without bail in the Kern County Jail. Wednesday morning, the Kern County District Attorney gave an update on the case.
The case has tugged at the heartstrings of the community from the very beginning 14 months ago. In Wednesday’s press conference, the Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer confirmed what many were afraid of. The investigation found that the boys were murdered sometime in September, three months before adoptive parents Trezell and Jacqueline West made the call to report them as missing.
“The investigation has revealed that Orrin and Orson West are deceased. The investigation has also revealed that they died three months before their adoptive parents reported them missing.”
Bakersfield Police Department Chief Greg Terry said, “We now realize that the search for the boys began after the real tragedy had occurred.”
Zimmer said a grand jury trial began last December, a year into their disappearance, where over the course of three months more than 50 witnesses testified and indicted the adoptive parents.
“The Kern County Grand Jury indicted, Trezell and Jacqueline West, the adoptive parents for the murder of Orrin and Orson West,” she announced.
In total, both adoptive parents were arrested on two counts of second-degree murder, and two counts of cruelty to child, one for each kid, and a false report of an emergency.
“Naturally, the first two counts carry the most time in state prison, murder. It is charged as murder in the second degree that carries 15 years to life, but with two victims, the potential penalty or the maximum possible penalty if convicted is 30 years to life,” explained Zimmer.
The court documents show that Trezell and Jacqueline West committed a crime that “involved great violence, threat of great bodily harm, or other acts disclosing a high degree of cruelty, viciousness or callousness, with the meaning of California rules of court.”
The documents also states the adoptive parents “induced others to participate in the commission of the crime or occupied a position of leadership or dominance of other participants in its commission,” and allege there was planning involved. However, when asked, Zimmer could not confirm if others were also to be charged.
Since the beginning of this case, the community has asked the question: ‘Where are the boys?’ That question is still unanswered.
“Have the bodies of Orrin and Orson been found? And the answer is no, they have not been found, however, I would like to emphasize that the fact that law enforcement have not found their bodies does not preclude a murder prosecution,” said Zimmer
She added that there have been many so-called “no body” homicides successfully prosecuted, including in Kern County.
The fifth count talks about the falsely reporting of an emergency.
Last year during the initial coverage of this case KERO-TV did hear from the adoptive parents. They were asked their response to being accused of the boys’ disappearance.
“That is understandable. I would think the same thing. That is exactly the point, and we could find our babies and guess what, that is no, and that is all I want is to find our babies. That is it,” said Trezell West.
Now that officials believe the boys died three months before they were reported missing, the question of whether they were ever in California City remains.
“That is something we are going to answer during the trial,” said Zimmer.
Trezell and Jacqueline are scheduled to be in court Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m.
The California City Chief of Police was also present at the presser and said his recently announced resignation has nothing to do with this case.
As the trial begins, the search for their bodies continues.
This story was originally published March 2, by KERO in Bakersfield, an E.W. Scripps Company.