NewsWest Boys Trial


CCPD Chief testifies to Wests' demeanor on first night

Trezell and Jaqueline West Trial, March 28, 2023
Posted at 11:41 AM, Apr 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-12 15:02:25-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — When California City Police Chief Jesse Hightower first spoke with Jacqueline West, he believed her demeanor seemed “neutral.” A lieutenant at the time, Hightower testified that he believed she showed no frustration, anxiety, or anger over Orson and Orrin’s disappearance.

During the fifth day of testimony, Hightower spent most of the day describing the initial search for the boys on December 21, 2020, and what eventually made them change their course.

Trezell and Jacqueline West initially reported the boys missing, telling police they believed Orrin and Orson had been in the backyard playing before they disappeared. Hightower said police canvassed with neighbors, looking for surveillance video, and aerial search units where called in. However, he said the initial interviews with Jacqueline didn’t sit well with him.

“What I've noticed, is basically it was what wasn't there. No frustration, no anxiety, no anger,” Hightower told the prosecution.

Prosecuting attorney Eric Smith played body-camera footage from Hightower’s initial search of the West home on Aspen Avenue on Dec. 21, 2020. In the video, Hightower is speaking with Jacqueline and questioning her about the boys. When asked their birth dates, Jacqueline had paused before answering and was unsure the years. She reiterated they were three and four years old.

During that first night, Hightower said he also sent Officer Hansen to interview the other West children at their grandmother’s house. He said after hearing from Hansen about the interviews they changed the course of their investigation.

Prosecutors allege that the boys were killed before they were reported missing in December. Multiple agencies have been involved in the investigation, including the FBI. Hightower requested a forensic dig team from the FBI to search the backyard of the Wests’ home, but nothing was found. To this day the boys bodies have never been found.