VANCOUVER, Wash. – A Vancouver couple is accused of locking their adopted twins in their bedroom, only feeding them once a day and beating them when they tried to steal food, court documents said.
Jeff Weller, 42, and Sandra Weller, 48, face second degree assault, unlawful imprisonment and criminal mistreatment charges. They were arrested Oct. 12 after police got a tip from Child Protective Services.
Court documents say the couple kept food under lock and key and fed very small amounts to their adopted 16-year-old twins an average of once a day. The twins told police they had to constantly steal food to survive. When they were caught, the Wellers forced them to take off their pants and underwear and lie on the kitchen floor while Jeff Weller beat them with a 42’’ wooden stick, often making them bleed, according to court documents.
The twins, who were home-schooled, were adopted by Sandra Weller in California when they were 2 years old. The twins told police the abuse went on for as long as they could remember. They are now in protective custody.
Court documents say the couple removed the interior door knob from the twins’ bedroom seven months ago and installed an alarm that activated when the door opened. They were not allowed to leave their bedroom other than to do chores and occasionally eat, court documents said.
There was no clock or electricity in their bedroom. The window was locked as well, documents said.
The twins were not allowed to touch other family members, sit with them or use the same utensils, documents said.
Recently, the 16-year-old boy stole some food and the “good utensils” and took them to his bedroom for him and his sister to eat. When Jeff Weller discovered it, he assaulted his adopted daughter by hitting her with a stick approximately 20 times, according to the documents. Documents say he also pushed her to the floor and strangled her until his wife Sandra told him to stop. He then hit Sandra, who said she was just trying to keep him from going to jail. Jeff Weller replied this one would be worth it, documents said.
Police said officers were allowed to look inside the Wellers’ home, located at 14118 NE 17th Circle, and said it was very dirty and extremely cluttered. The refrigerator had a bicycle lock on it, and the pantry doors had key locks on them. Jeff Weller kept the keys to those locks, police said.
Officers also discovered a large, boarded up hole in the twins’ bedroom that connected to an adjoining room. Police said the twins told them other children in the home used the hole to pass them food.
Court documents say when officers interviewed Jeff and Sandra Weller, they told police the twins hoarded food and eat a lot so they had to lock up the food. When police asked about the twins’ emaciated state, the Wellers replied the two are skinny because of their Filipino heritage.
The Wellers posted bond and were released after their first court appearance on Oct. 13. They will be arraigned on Oct. 27.
A KATU News reporter tried to speak to the Wellers at their home Tuesday but they declined to tell their story.
"My home, our property. No one likes to be falsely accused," said Jeff Weller as he and his wife charged passed the reporter and into their home.
Neighbors said they've heard yelling, loud noises and have even seen some bizarre behavior from the teenagers in the middle of the night. They didn't want to get involved but are now horrified to hear how prosecutors say these teens were tortured.
KATU News reporter Meghan Kalkstein contributed to this report.