3-year-old Orson West and his 4-year-old brother Orrin were playing outside their home in California when they disappeared only days before Christmas.
Their heartbroken family said they have received death threats after the siblings disappeared two months ago.
Jaqueline and Trezol, who fostered and adopted the brothers, said the children were playing outside their home when they suddenly disappeared.
In an interview with ABC, the children’s adoptive uncle Jamal Watkins said: “We offered a reward out of our own pockets. It is misguided to blame uncles and aunts and grandparents for children who are missing that we love and care about and are trying to find.”
Watkins also said in a statement: “What has continued is the alarming number of threats of physical violence (including death threats), intentional harassment and misinformation being perpetuated by groups…and other individuals.
“As a family we have had to be even more cautious to not engage directly with individuals who have trespassed on various family members’ properties, hurled insults, reported false information deliberately, damage property and created a hate-filled hostile environment.”
The siblings adoptive grandmother, Wanda West, said: “I just know they were really good parents as far as I’m concerned.
“Right now there are people outside the home, talking about where are the boys. It’s like people don’t realize we are grieving we are hurting just like they are.”
Police said they suspect foul play in the toddlers’ disappearance.
“We have not ruled anyone out,” said California City Police Chief Jon Walker. “We’ve searched several different places of possible grave sites.
“We did a thorough search of the surrounding areas and [the toddlers were] not there, so that tells me that they didn’t just keep walking. Someone picked them up.”
The children were reported missing on December 21.
Their adoptive father said he was gathering wood due to the cold temperature. “I open up the back gate, I’m throwing wood, bringing it inside the house. My wife’s inside, she was actually wrapping gifts so we thought it was a good idea that our youngest two go outside and play with chalk on the back patio,” he told 23ABC News.
“I saw them there, went in the house, I came back out, I didn’t seem them. I realized that I left the back gate open and I panicked and came inside the house. (We) searched the house, me and my wife.
“Once that didn’t pan out, I got in the van. I looked down the street in both directions; it was getting dark, getting cold.”
The father then explained that he realized that he had left the back gate open and the kids were no longer on the patio.
He said that he “panicked and came inside the house” before calling the police.
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