CALIFORNIA CITY — A small group of community members gathered near an Aspen Avenue home on a windy, chilly Monday night to hold a candlelight vigil for two missing toddlers, Orson West, 3, and Orrin West, 4.
The vigil comes more than a month after the boys were reported missing by their adoptive parents on Dec. 21. Hundreds of people have conducted several searches for the boys over the period, while California City Police Department, the FBI, Bakersfield Police Department and Kern County District Attorney’s Office have investigated the boys’ disappearance.
The Jan. 25 vigil was organized by California City residents Jamie White and Jennifer Wood, who have helped coordinate searches for the boys since December.
White thanked people for coming to the vigil noting that the adverse weather was nowhere near what the boys are likely go through.
White provided some opening remarks during the ceremony, noting that community has come together to search for the boys since their disappearance.
“We have lifted them up in our prayers and given our faith to God that they be brought home safely,” White said. “Our community has been gripped by fear, sadness and anger — fear for Orrin and Orson and what they have endured while we search for them and the thought of them being harmed.”
She said the community “wants answers but they just haven’t come.”
“But we also have hope and faith that Orrin and Orson will be brought home to us, that they are safe and waiting to come home,” White said. “We have to have faith … faith that those who have these children will have it their hearts to return them and faith that all of our police officers and those helping to find the answers.”
White also asked the community to have patience in the process and with California City police officers and other law enforcement as they conduct their investigation and “do everything they can to bring [the boys] home.”
White stressed the vigil was not a memorial.
“We are not here to mourn Orrin and Orson,” she said. “We are here to call out to God for their safe return.”
Victory Baptist Church Pastor Ron Smith was among a few who led a prayer for the boys return, asking “to give them hope.”
California City Police Chief Jon Walker spoke briefly, reiterating “how much these boys mean to this community” as the search continues.
Walker observed that while the wind continued to blow out lit candles, they weren’t the point of the vigil.
“The light is within you and our community because we want our kids back,” Walker said.
Walker also assured the community that his department “is working on this case around the clock.”
He said it was important to keep Orson and Orrin in the news, and when asked by media outlets if he thinks the boys were dead, has rejected the notion.
“I refuse to think that and that somehow, someway we are going to find them,” Walkers aid. “I am open to anyone that has any information, please bring it to me.”
Walker also asked that people respectfully not trespass on the property of the West home, as it may interfere in the police department’s investigation.
“We’re trying to exhaust every possible avenue that we have,” he said. “People have asked me if this is a cold case, and by no means … we have not given up.”