Brothers allegedly killed by adoptive parents were unlawfully taken from biological mother, suit says

The birth mother of two Californian brothers who were allegedly killed by their adoptive parents has filed a federal lawsuit saying her sons were illegally taken from her.

Ryan Dean said she tried several times to regain custody of Cinsere and Classic Pettus, but was denied. The brothers – whose names were changed by their adoptive parents to Orrin and Orson West – were reported missing in December 2020. They were 4 and 3 when they disappeared from their adoptive home.

Their adoptive parents, Trezell West and Jacqueline West, have been charged with murder. While authorities said the brothers were dead, their bodies have not been found.

Orrin and Orson West.
Orrin and Orson West.Kern County Attorney’s Office via AP

“I just feel like I didn’t deserve this,” Dean said at a press conference on Tuesday. “I’m not a criminal. I don’t have a bad criminal record.”

Cinsere was removed from his mother’s care in 2016 after Dean said she came home to find the 3-month-old ‘crying uncontrollably’, according to the June 17 lawsuit alleging a violation of human rights. civil rights and wrongful death. The child’s father said he gave the baby two baths and said nothing else happened that day.

Dean took the child to the emergency room where she was informed that both of Cinsere’s legs were broken. An X-ray showed no other injuries, according to the suit.

While in the hospital, Dean was told that Kern County Social Services would take the child and place him in a foster home because hospital staff believed he had been abused. The lawsuit says that at the time Cinsere was fired, Dean had no allegations of abuse against her.

Classic was pulled days after he was born in 2017 because the Department of Social Services said “they like to keep their siblings together,” the lawsuit says.

Dean said in the suit that she fought to get her two children back, but was repeatedly denied. In 2018, the boys were removed from foster care and placed with the West family. Dean never received an explanation for the move, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that shortly after moving in with the West family, Dean “began to see a change in his children.” He says the boys looked “scared”, had lost weight and Classic “had scratches on his face”. Dean reported his concerns to the Department of Social Services, but no action was taken, the lawsuit says.

Less than a year after living with the family, the adoptive parents reported that the boys had disappeared from their backyard in the desert town of California City, according to the lawsuit. Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said in March the boys were likely dead three months before they disappeared.

Dean said in the lawsuit that the state “had a duty” to protect his children, but instead placed them in a home that was a “state-created danger.” She is claiming $40 million in damages.

Kern County Social Services and the state Department of Human Services are named as defendants in the lawsuit. The Department of Social Services said it could not comment on the lawsuit and the Department of Social Services was not immediately reachable.

Timothy Hennessy, attorney for Trezell West, told a press conference in March that the couple should be considered innocent until proven guilty.

The Associated Press contributed.

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