Trial of parents in Vanc. child abuse case begins today

Trial of parents in Vanc. child abuse case begins today »Play Video
Jeff and Sandra Weller

VANCOUVER, Wash. – The trial of two parents who investigators said imprisoned, abused and starved two teenage twins began Monday with jury selection.

Jeff and Sandra Weller face second degree assault, unlawful imprisonment and criminal mistreatment charges. They were arrested Oct. 12, 2011, after police were tipped off by child protective services.

Jeff Weller pleaded not guilty to all the charges last year. His wife Sandra was ordered to undergo a mental evaluation before she could enter a plea.

The twins are now in foster care and the Wellers have not been allowed any contact with them. However, the couple did get supervised visitation rights with their other four children.

Court documents said the couple kept food under lock and key and fed very small amounts to the 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-inch wooden stick, often making them bleed, according to court documents.

In one incident, court documents said Jeff hit the female twin with the stick about 20 times.

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.

Court documents also said that early in 2011, the couple removed the interior door knob from the twins' bedroom 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.

Court documents indicated Sandra was also the target of some abuse by Jeff and detailed numerous other instances of abuse, including strangulation, directed at the teenagers.