Vancouver couple accused of imprisoning, beating and starving twins

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: October 18, 2011, 11:50 PM

 
14118 N.E. 17th Circle

A Vancouver couple are accused of locking their adopted twins in a bedroom and feeding them only once a day — and then hitting them with a board if they tried to “steal” food, police said.

Police said the two 16-year-olds are very emaciated; the parents kept food from them because they thought they ate too much, according to court documents.

Jeffrey W. Weller, 42, and Sandra D. Weller, 48, are charged with five counts of second-degree assault and two counts of unlawful imprisonment. The twins, who were home-schooled, were placed in protective custody.

The defendants will be arraigned Oct. 27.

The Wellers were arrested last Wednesday following a tip from Child Protective Services. Police responded to the home at 14118 N.E. 17th Circle and interviewed the twins, a boy and girl.

 The twins, who were adopted by the Wellers at age 2 in California, told police that “for as long as they can recall, food in the home has been under lock and key, and they are fed very small amounts of food an average of once a day,” according to a probable cause affidavit filed with the court.

The two said they constantly had to “steal” food and were punished when they were caught. According to court documents, they allegedly were made to lie on the kitchen floor stripped of pants and underwear and were struck repeatedly with a wooden board by Jeffrey Weller. Sandra Weller was also present, the twins told police.

The beatings occurred at least once a week and had been happening for several years, police said.

The Wellers also allegedly removed the interior door knob of the twins’ bedroom about seven months ago and installed an alarm that triggered if they tried to leave the room. The bedroom window also has a lock, according to court documents.

Police said the bedroom has no electricity because the Wellers removed all fuses to outlets. There is no clock or other appliances.

The twins were restricted from interacting with the rest of the family, meaning they could not sit with them, touch them or use the same eating utensils, police said in court documents.

“Within the last 30 days, (one of the twins) stole some food and the ‘good utensils’ and took these items to his bedroom for him and his sister to eat,” the probable cause affidavit said. “This was discovered by Jeff Weller, who then assaulted (the female twin) by hitting her with the stick approximately 20 times.”

Police allege Jeff Weller also choked the female twin until Sandra Weller told him to stop.

“Jeff then struck Sandra, who replied that she was trying to keep him from going to jail,” the probable cause affidavit said. “Jeff reportedly replied that this one would be worth it.”

Officers searching the home — which they said was extremely filthy — found bicycle locks wrapped around the refrigerator and the handles of pantry doors.

They also found a small hole created in the twins’ bedroom door, which was used to pass food through from the couple’s other children, according to court documents.

Officers also recovered the board, which had dried blood on it. They interviewed the Wellers, who gave a statement.

“Officers interviewed Sandra and Jeff who stated (the twins) ‘hoard’ food and eat a lot so they have to lock the food up or they would eat it all,” the probable cause affidavit said.

An officer asked the Wellers why the twins are so thin, if they eat a lot. “It was explained that (the twins) are Filipino; therefore they are thin due to their heritage,” the affidavit said.

The Wellers were released from the Clark County Jail after posting bond to $100,000 bail apiece.

The couple live in a modern two-story home they own in Vancouver’s North Hearthwood neighborhood.

Laura McVicker: 360-735-4516; http://www.twitter.com/col_courts; laura.mcvicker@columbian.com.