Fear and mystery surround the disappearance of two toddlers from their home in California City less than 70 miles east of Bakersfield.
“It’s always bad when someone goes missing. But these are two little babies,” California City Mayor Jeanie O’Laughlin said. "We realize the longer it goes, the harder it becomes.”
Longtime Cal City resident Carolinda Fleming said the whole thing makes no sense.
“There are no answers," she said. "All we have are a lot of questions to two children wandering away.”
The two boys, Orson West, 3, and Orrin West, 4, went missing Dec. 21 at about 5:45 p.m. from their home at 10717 Aspen Ave., according to a news alert from the California City Police Department.
Law enforcement agencies have investigated the boys' home and property belonging to their adoptive parents, according to news reports.
The FBI has become involved in the case but the agency said the police department leads the investigation.
A spokesperson for the police department said Monday that no new information was available. She would not provide an email or phone number for Chief Jon Walker, who she said was on his day off.
Since the children's disappearance people have used dogs, all-terrain vehicles, jeeps and motorcycles to search for the boys.
“Pretty much half the town has been out and about at some point in time,” resident Jennifer Wood said. “People from all walks of life. This community comes together when it needs to.”
“We combed the area. Everywhere,” Fleming said. “Not one thing. Nothing. No clothes, no footprints. It’s dirt back there.”
The Rev. David McKinley, pastor at Solid Rock Missionary Baptist Church in California City, said he believes their disappearance has opened the community's eyes.
“While we are a united community, there still are dangers," he said. "And we have to be our brother’s keeper. It let us know that we need to get back to that.”
The mysterious nature of the boys’ disappearance and the lack of information from authorities has been difficult for people who want to lend a helping hand, Mayor O’Laughlin said.
She also said it’s led to potentially unfair speculation.
In an interview Sunday that aired on KERO-23's Facebook page, the boys' adoptive father, Trezell West, said he understands people's concern about the mystery surrounding the boys' disappearance and that all he wants is to find his babies.
Fleming, the longtime resident, said she's chilled by the case.
“A 4-year-old and a 3-year-old don’t wander off at night,” she said.
The pastor McKinley urged the community to stay together.
“I just want to urge each and every member of our community to not jump to conclusions," he said. "Don’t spout rumors you may have heard.”