Details of Disappearance
Orson reportedly disappeared with his brother, Orrin West
, from California City, California at 4:00 p.m. on December 21, 2020. They lived with their adoptive parents, Trezell and Jacqueline West. Trezell and Jacqueline have two biological children and two additional adoptive ones. That day, the other children were away visiting their grandparents.
The Wests had begun fostering Orrin and Orson in 2018 after they were removed from their biological parents' care, and had adopted them in 2019. All of the other children were removed from the home after Orrin and Orson were reported missing.
Trezell stated the two boys went missing from the backyard. They were playing with the family's dog, and Trezell was gathering firewood. He went inside briefly, leaving the back gate open. When he returned, the children were gone. Trezell stated he drove through the nearby streets looking for them and spoke to neighbors before calling the police a few minutes later.
The police brought tracking dogs to the house, and the dogs detected Orrin and Orson's scent inside the home but not outdoors. An extensive search turned up no sign of either of the brothers.
In December 2021, a year after Orrin and Orson disappeared, their biological father, Charles A. Pettus and grandmother, Brenda Pettus, filed a lawsuit against the state of California, the county of Kern, and Kern County Child Protective Services in connection with the boys' case. The Pettuses allege that the boys' adoptive parents were improperly trained and supervised and this led to Orrin and Orson being placed in an unsafe situation, which resulted in their wrongful deaths.
In March 2022, after a three-month grand jury investigation, Trezell and Jacqueline were both arrested on five counts each: two counts of murder, two counts of felony child abuse and one count of filing a false report of an emergency.
Little information has been released about the evidence against them, but the district attorney announced that a combination of direct and circumstantial evidence would prove that both Orrin and Orson had died about three months before their adoptive parents filed the missing persons reports.
The Wests are awaiting trial. The children's bodies have not been located, but foul play is suspected in their cases due to the circumstances involved.
Prior to moving to California City in September 2020, they'd lived in Bakersfield, California; Bakersfield police are investigating their cases.