Jeffrey and Sandra Weller, Vancouver Parents, Charged With Routinely Starving and Beating Adopted Twins

Date: 2011-10-19

By Curtis Cartier

There's no door knob on the inside of the twins' bedroom. Try and open it and an alarm sounds. The windows: Locked. Electricity: Off. And the refrigerator--apparently the focal point of the children's lives for years: Shut tight with a bicycle lock.

This is what police say they found inside the home of Jeffrey and Sandra Weller of Vancouver, Wash., along with two emaciated 16-year-old Filipino children--a boy and a girl.

According to charging documents filed in Clark County Superior Court, the two parents live in a nice two-story house in east Vancouver and had adopted the Filipino twins when they were 2 years old. The Wellers claim that the adopted children "hoarded" food and had to be kept away from it lest they consume the entire family's provisions.

This against the twins' story--the seriously underweight twins' story--that "as far back as they can remember" they've been starved and abused by their foster parents.

The twins were allegedly barred from sitting next to, touching, or talking to "other family members." They weren't allowed to leave their bedroom but to do chores, and, on occasion, eat.

In fact eating--or the lack thereof it--was perhaps the most common abusive technique used by the parents according to prosecutors, as Jeff and Sandra would only feed them once a day and would punish the children severely if they were caught "stealing" food.

On a recent occasion the twins supposedly managed to sneak some food and the "good utensils" out of the kitchen and into their rooms. When Jeff caught them he took the young girl, forced her down to her knees, and beat her with a wooden board "approximately 20 times" before strangling her until Sandra begged him to stop.

When police searched the house, they apparently found the children's room with its door knob removed on the inside so it couldn't be opened from there and an alarm system rigged to it as well. Electricity was cut off in the room, and the children seemingly lived in darkness. Police also say they found locks on the windows and pantries and refrigerator.

Then the police found a wooden board with dried blood on it.

Inside the children's bedroom was also a small boarded-up hole, where apparently some of the other children in the house would sometimes try and sneak the twins something to eat.

Explaining their actions, Sandra and Jeff Weller apparently described being forced to keep food away from the twins because of their ravenous appetites. And when asked why the children then were so underweight, the foster parents said "They are thin due to their heritage."

The Wellers were released from prison after posting $100,000 bond. They face five counts of second-degree assault and two counts of unlawful imprisonment.

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