Parents arrested for allegedly neglecting adoptive children

Parents arrested for allegedly neglecting adoptive children »Play Video
The family's house in Longview, Wash. Photograph from the Cowlitz County Assessor's Office.

LONGVIEW, Wash. – A Longview couple was arrested Thursday after a two month investigation found they were severely neglecting and starving their five adopted children, according to the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office.

Jeffrey and Rebecca Trebilcock were booked into jail without bail.
A spokesman for the sheriff’s office confirmed Thursday night that Jeffrey Trebilcock works for the Longview School District.

In the first week of March, the couple's 13-year-old adopted boy was treated at Doernbecher Children's Hospital for several broken ribs, severe malnutrition, hypothermia and other ailments. He was placed into protective custody.

Police said the boy was only 4 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 49 pounds.

In 2008, a doctor warned the parents that a medical condition the boy had was nearly life-threatening.

Four adopted girls, ages 11, 12, 10 and eight were also found to be underweight and neglected, according to a doctor. They were placed into protective custody a week after the 13-year-old.

The children told detectives their adoptive parents put an alarm in the kitchen that went off if the children went to get food. They were hit with a wooden board if they did.

The 13-year-old boy said he was beaten on the buttocks to the point blood would flow down his leg. The children also said they were sprayed with water and made to stand on the porch soaked.

Since they couldn’t get any food in the house, the children reported they had to eat dog and goat food and dandelion leaves.

The parents are well-nourished and so are three other biological children in the home, according to the sheriff’s office. One other biological child, who is older, moved out of the home.

Since May 12 the children have gained significant amounts of weight, police said.

In early March, the sheriff’s office was contacted by Washington State Children Protective Services and an investigation began. The sheriff’s office says it doesn't know what motivated the parents to neglect their adoptive children.

The parents face criminal mistreatment charges in the first and second degree and felony assault in the third degree.

Neighbors: Allegations false

Neighbors of the family say the couple is being wrongly accused and that the 13-year-old boy has fabricated stories.

“These people are wonderful people,” said Warren Bertold. “They’re terrific, Christian people. They have rescued these kids. Four of these kids, they rescued from Haiti.

“These kids were downtrodden (and) had nothing going for them. They have nothing but love for these children, and because of one kid’s misstatements, they are being tried, convicted, accused and convicted already which is a total miscarriage of justice.”

The Trebilcocks are scheduled to appear in court Friday on the charges.

KATU News reporter Bob Heye contributed to this report.