CALIFORNIA CITY — As the search for two missing children entered its third day, the FBI has become involved in the investigation, according to California City police department.
Orin and Orson West, ages 3 and 4, were first reported missing Monday night at around 5:45 p.m. after last being seeing the 10700 block of Aspen Avenue. California City Police Department put out two notifications via Nixle alert system as volunteers began combing the surrounding area, which includes a large swath of open desert. Kern County Sheriff’s Office provided a helicopter to help during the search Monday night.
The search resumed Tuesday morning for the missing children.
According to California City Police Department, the FBI on Tuesday began interviewing the adopted parents of the two boys, Trezol and Jacqueline West. The couple adopted Orrin and Orson in April 2019.
The couple went willing with officers after a police cruiser came to pick them up. A search warrant was later served on Tuesday evening and evidence collected from their home.
According to CCPD, no one has been ruled out in the disappearance of the two children, and items removed from their home. In addition, the couple’s vehicle was towed away.
California City resident Jennifer Wood is among those helping to search for the missing boys on both Monday and Tuesday, and said she would help Wednesday afternoon.
“We were searching on foot around the neighborhoods door to door, looking in garbage cans and ditches because boys like to hide,” Wood said.
Tuesday, Wood said groups focused on the larger desert area around California City, including the dirt road leading from Proctor on the city’s east side and as far out as Galileo Park in Cal City’s Second Community.
“We searched the high school, both ball parks, the playground, the hotel and the hotel pool,” Wood said.
She commented that authorities, from CCPD to federal agencies, “have been doing a bang-up job” in the investigation so far.
Wood said while authorities didn’t provide much in the way of an update, they encouraged a continued community search
Ryan Dean of Bakersfield, the biological mother of the missing boys, spoke with media in California City Wednesday afternoon. Dean alleged that the adopted parents may have had something to do with the children’s disappearance.
An emotional Dean added that the adopted mother told her “that she had let the two kids out into the backyard because she didn’t want them to see the gifts” being wrapped for Christmas. Dean said that the other kids in the home had not been let out.
Dean said when she arrived in California City and knocked on the Owens’ door, the adopted father “wanted to say he was sorry …”
“I feel like they know something or did something,” Dean said. “I feel that my kids are around here somewhere."
However, the adoptive parents, Trezol and Jacqueline West, on Wednesday afternoon told media that their absence was related to being involved with CCPD's investigation efforts and that a large volunteer group was already mounting a search effort.
Trezol West said it was cold Monday night and decided to gather wood for a fire. He said he opened the back gate to his yard while gathering wood and bringing it inside.
Like Dean, West said his wife was inside wrapping presents and sent the two boys outside so as not to see the presents.
"They were playing with chalk, I saw them there," West said. "I went in the house, came back out and I din't see them."
West said he immediately went back into the house and checked with his wife, and began searching the back yard.
"I realized I left the back gate open, panicked and came back in to search the entire house with my wife," he said. "Once that didn't pan out, I got into the van, looked down the street in both directions ... I searched and called both their names.
West said he returned home, where the couple called the police. He said the first thing they were told was to stay in the house.
"We feel so helpless and everyone out here helping means a lot," said Jacqueline West.
Regarding Dean's allegations, the Wests said they would think the same thing.
"I talked with her this morning and I wanted to tell her I was very sorry because we were entrusted with her children," he said. "They are our children and we want them back."
California City police officers and a Kern County Sheriff's Office K9 unit returned to the scene Wednesday afternoon, shortly after the Wests provided their story. The search focused on the back yard of the home where the boys were last seen.
CCPD did not confirm Wednesday whether the Wests had been detained or were considered suspects.
However, the police department released a community advisory via Nixle regarding the ongoing efforts to locate the missing children.
"As you all are aware, California City Police Department along with assisting agencies are engaged in an active investigation regarding the two missing brothers Orson and Orrin West," the police department message states. "We have been working tirelessly, using every possible resource we can to try to locate the children. We ask for you patience and your prayers that we will safely bring this to a conclusion."
The message at the time also stated the boys could have left on foot.
Anyone with information that can assist CCPD in locating Orson and Orrin is asked to call dispatch at (760)373-8606.