House of Horrors: Yelena

Twins Beaten and Starved
Fred and Sandra Weller face second degree assault, unlawful imprisonment and criminal mistreatment charges for allegedly abusing, starving and imprisoning their adopted 16-year-old twins.

News reports say, “A Vancouver police report describes the room the two adopted twins shared as filthy, no electricity, a lock on the outside window and an alarm that sounded when the kids’ door opened. Neighbors say that Fred and Sandra Weller frequently have kids doing chores outside in the middle of the night.”

A neighbor tells reporters that the parents could be heard “screaming” and “hurling profanities” at the kids in the middle of the night.

[AD]News agencies report, “Food in the house is under a lock and key, with the refrigerator kept secure with a bicycle lock. On a recent occasion, the kids were so hungry, one child took food to his sibling in their bedroom. The police report says that when Jeff Weller found out about it, he punished the kids by making him lie on the kitchen floor with no pants or underwear. Then they are struck in their buttock region repeatedly with a wooden stick, often making them bleed. Assaults that kids told police that have happened every week for several years.”

Sources report that two of the Wellers' six children are staying with relatives. The other four are now in foster care.Yelena lives in the same cul-de-sac as the Wellers and says that her sisters called the police on them on more than one occasion.

Dr. Phil asks her, “What did you see and hear?”  

“It was very angry, just the words that they would use would just be disturbing, the things that they would be yelling out at the children,” she says.

“And the police said to you, ‘There’s really not much we can do unless we see some physical abuse has taken place’?”

“Yes. I did speak to the police, and I asked him, me and my neighbor, we asked, ‘What can we do? We believe there is something going on there that shouldn’t be,’” she says.

Yelena says she would occasionally get a glimpse of the twins, and they were disturbingly thin. The parents would just say it was due to the twins’ Filipino heritage. “I actually believed they were 13, 14. I just found out they were 16. I was shocked,” she says.

“You believe these twins actually stole food from your house?” Dr. Phil asks.

“Yes,” she says. She says her mother would see them running off in the middle of the night, and they would have some food missing, like yogurt.

“Eventually the police were called because one of the twins slipped somebody a note that said, ‘We’re trapped here. Help us,’” Dr. Phil says.

Dr. Phil goes over the details in the arresting officer’s declaration of probable cause:

“The officer’s learned that Sandra and Jeff Weller were caregivers and guardians of 16-year-old twins, adopted by Sandra in California at 2 years old. These twins were interviewed separately and gave the same story. The home has been under lock and key. They are fed small amounts of food on an average of once a day. Doorknobs were taken off of their room, where there was no electricity. If they were caught stealing food, their punishment: They both had to lie on the kitchen floor with no pants or underwear, get struck with a wooden stick, which often made them bleed. Now the husband administered but the wife supervised the punishments and this happened at least once a week and has occurred for several years. And these twins were not allowed to interact with other family members here. They were not permitted to leave the room, other than to complete chores. They’re not allowed to sit with the family, they weren’t allowed to touch other family members. They couldn’t use the same utensils that the other family members used.”

[AD]At the end of the show, Dr. Phil tells his viewers, “Let’s make a resolve, all of us, to pay attention to what’s going on around us. We might be sitting right here, being safe and secure, and someone in the very next house could be hoping and praying that you are going to be the one who comes and brings some help for them.”