That light appeared on Oct. 7, 2011, when Child Protective Services removed him, his twin sister, and four other siblings from the Weller house.
In the trial, the twins and their adoptive siblings described that “lonely hell” in graphic detail. The twins, their adoptive brother, and another sibling all wrote victim impact statements to the judge, as did the couple’s ex-spouses.
The Wellers fed the twins only once a day with moldy food or bowls of canned vegetables served with shortening. The twins were ordered to eat it while standing up. Meanwhile, the other four children were fed hot prepared meals at the dining room table.
If the twins refused to eat what they were given, they were punished. For instance, the twin girl said she was forced to hold a spoonful of hot spices in her mouth and then swallow them without anything to wash it down.
All of the cabinets and the refrigerator were locked, the children said. The six children worked together to access food in the cabinets for the twins to eat by unscrewing cabinet hinges, stealing their parents’ keys and smuggling food through a hole they cut between their bedrooms, they said.
When the Wellers found out, the twins were beaten with a scrap piece of lumber until they bled, they said. On rarer occasions, Sandra Weller whipped the girl twin with a cable-style bicycle lock normally used to secure the refrigerator, the twins said.
“We all grew up in a place where the people who are there to protect us were the monsters that other children fear,” the boy twin wrote. “The people who were there to hold us drew our blood on a regular basis.”
Outside of the daily meal, chores and schoolwork, the twins were expected to remain in their room, they said. The Wellers monitored the twins’ movement with an alarm over the door and over the staircase between the bedrooms and kitchen, and a lock on their window, they said.
The girl twin soiled the carpet in her bedroom because she was unable to leave, her twin brother said.
Clark County Deputy Prosecutor Dustin Richardson had recommended a sentence of 20 years each for the couple. Under standard sentencing guidelines, the couple would have faced no more than 10 years in prison, but the jury found that there were aggravating factors, which allowed for an “exceptional” sentence. Among the factors were that the abuse was on par with torture.