Invisible Children

2 children of Sandra and Jeffrey Weller, and 4 siblings

Content note: Case narratives include descriptions of severe violence inflicted on children, including abuse and neglect, sexual violence, torture, and murder, as well as mentions of suicide and domestic violence. They also include photos of victims and perpetrators of violence.

sandra and jeffrey weller
16-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, were beaten, imprisoned, and starved by their adoptive mother Sandra Weller and their stepfather Jeffrey Weller. The twins were pulled out of school to be homeschooled after school officials reported suspicions of abuse. Despite the abuse, the twins “participated weekly in home-school social events outside the home,” according to the Wellers’ lawyer.

The twins were originally adopted by Sandra Weller and her previous husband in California around 1997 and stated that they had been abused as long as they could remember. The Wellers locked them in a bedroom with one mattress, no electricity, and newspapers covering the windows. They were released once a day to eat canned vegetables. Because they were starving, they stole food from the locked refrigerator and pantry whenever they could; when the Wellers caught them, they were beaten with a heavy board. The girl, who was bald from malnutrition when they were found, took the brunt of the abuse and was also strangled and punched in the face. The twins were not permitted to talk to or touch the other members of the family. The other four children in the home—two boys aged 14 and 12 from Jeffrey Weller’s earlier marriage to Tina Toth (who had lived there since June 2011), a 10-year-old boy from Sandra Weller’s earlier marriage to Tim Graf, and the Wellers’ 4-year-old son—were also physically and emotionally abused, especially when they tried to sneak food to the twins.

The abuse came to light when the girl passed a note to her therapist and the police were notified. The Wellers were originally charged with five counts of second-degree assault and two counts of unlawful imprisonment. They were eventually convicted in 2013 of “three counts of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon, unlawful imprisonment, second-degree assault, and four counts of third-degree assault causing bodily harm. Jeffrey Weller was also found guilty of “strangulation of the girl twin” and on several counts of abusing his other four children. The Wellers were each sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Date: October 7, 2011
Vancouver, Washington

Documents: Date:
Vancouver couple accused of locking twins in bedroom 10-18-2011
Vancouver couple accused of beating teenage twins, confining them to room without electricity 10-19-2011
How Could You? Hall of Shame-Sandra and Jeffrey Weller and Lawsuit 10-19-2011
Jeffrey and Sandra Weller, Vancouver Parents, Charged With Routinely Starving and Beating Adopted Twins 10-19-2011
CPS, neighbors reported abuse suspicions starting in 2004 10-20-2011
Couple accused of beating, starving and imprisoning adopted teenage twins 10-20-2011
‘If he would talk his dad would beat him with a board’ 10-20-2011
Abuse allegations of Vancouver twins date back years 10-20-2011
Battle Ground mother speaks out: ‘the system failed’ 10-26-2011
Couple accused of starving, imprisoning twins appear in court 10-27-2011
New charges possible in alleged abuse of twins 11-14-2011
Mental check postponed for imprisonment suspect 11-29-2011
Mother in child-imprisonment case arraigned 01-19-2012
Details emerge in child-imprisonment trial 02-04-2013
Twin testifies about alleged abuse, starvation, imprisonment 02-05-2013
Sibling testifies in Vancouver trial for abused adopted twins 02-06-2013
Husband gets 21 years, wife gets 20 in Vancouver abuse case 03-20-2013
Vancouver couple sentenced for imprisoning, beating adopted twins 03-20-2013
Lawsuit: WA failed to protect starved, beaten Vancouver kids 10-19-2013