Abuse trial

Adopted son takes stand on Day 1 of Trebilcock trial

2012-07-16T22:54:00Z 2014-11-27T03:19:12Z Adopted son takes stand on Day 1 of Trebilcock trialBy Tony Lystra / The Daily News Longview Daily News
July 16, 2012 10:54 pm  • 

The boy said his parents taped his mouth shut as a punishment. He was a teenager, but his parents forced him to wear diapers in public because they were afraid he’d wet himself. His brothers and his father once made him wear a helmet and garbage bag and used him for target practice with paintball guns, he said in court Monday.

The boy said he wasn’t allowed to use the bathroom at night, so he resorted to urinating in a cup in his bedroom. He said that if his parents found the cup of urine, they made him drink it.

Worst of all, the boy said, his parents hardly fed him and he resorted to eating dog and goat food.

Jeffrey and Rebecca Trebilcock looked on with stunned faces as their 14-year-old adopted son described a frightening routine of abuse and humiliation at their hands during the first day of their child abuse and neglect trial in Cowlitz County Superior Court.

The Longview couple is accused of starving their five adopted children, all of whom joined the couple’s home between 2002 and 2008.

The Trebilcocks rigged a motion-sensing alarm to keep their adopted children from stealing food, some of which was kept locked up, Deputy Prosecutor James Smith told the court.

The Trebilcocks have denied the abuse and suggested other health problems caused the children to be underweight.

Smith said the boy was severely malnourished and near death when he was rushed to a Portland hospital last year, his body perilously cold and his heart beating so slowly one doctor was surprised he was conscious, according to Smith and witnesses who testified Monday.

The boy’s body was covered with sores from eczema, Smith said, and he had four broken ribs.

The boy, then 13, weighed only 50 pounds, half the normal weight for his age, when he and his four adopted sisters, ages 8 and 13, were placed in protective custody in March last year, according to authorities. All of the children rapidly gained weight and improved in health once they were away from the Trebilcocks, Smith said.

On Monday, Smith showed a photo of the boy sitting in his hospital bed last year, grinning awkwardly, his face sunken, a bony arm poking out from a hospital gown.

Perched on the boy’s nose were a pair of bent and taped bifocals which, Smith said, the boy was forced to wear even though he didn’t need them and they made his vision worse.

Doctors testified Monday that the boy had wasted away so badly that his condition was consistent with terminal cancer patients. Hospital staff had to give him only small portions of food at first so he wouldn’t go into shock and die from the extra calories, witnesses said.

Authorities have said the couple’s four biological children, most of them in their late teens, were well-fed.

The Daily News is not publishing the first names of the adopted children to protect their identities.

Defense lawyers Kevin Blondin and Ted DeBray said the Trebilcocks are good parents who clothed their children and gave them all the food they wanted. The kids were underweight because they’d recently suffered a bout of the flu, the attorneys told Judge Michael Evans.

The children gained weight so quickly after the state seized them, Blondin said, because they were fed a lot of calorie-packed food in their new foster homes. He compared the phenomenon to “fattening a pig,” then quickly clarified that he was not comparing the children to farm animals.

The lawyers suggested other medical problems, such as fetal alcohol syndrome, could also explain the condition of the boy.

“There was no mistreatment,” Blondin said. “There was no abuse.”

The Trebilcocks, both 45, each face one count of first-degree criminal mistreatment and four counts second-degree criminal mistreatment. They have opted for a bench trial, placing their fates in the hands of Judge Evans instead of a jury.

DeBray said in his opening arguments that the case had gotten so much media attention, “There was really never a chance that a jury would give my client a fair shot.”

The trial is expected to last two weeks and include the testimony of all of the adopted Trebilcock children, law enforcement officers, medical experts and others.

Authorities say the 14-year-old boy got the worst of the alleged abuse.

The boy, his cheeks full but his frame strikingly short for his age, poked his head over the walls of the witness stand Monday as he answered questions in crisp, simple sentences.

He testified that he was often cold and damp when he lived with the Trebilcocks. He said that when he wet himself or the bed, the Trebilcocks made him wash his own sheets and clothes in a bucket in the yard, regardless of how cold or wet the weather. He then hung the clothes and sheets up outside, and the Southwest Washington drizzle meant they never really dried, Smith said.

He said he wasn’t allowed to wear shoes very often on the Trebilcock’s roughly 30 acres in West Longview and did chores — feeding and watering goats and other animals — in his bare feet.

The boy said his parents insisted that his bare feet be inspected before he came inside to ensure that he didn’t track dirt into the house. But no one would bother, he said, so he spent hours huddled on the porch, just out of the rain. If he cried about it, he said, his mother or another family member popped out the door and doused him with cold water from a glass.

He said his parents sometimes fed him on the porch. They put food in a plastic potato salad container, which they called his “trough,” then passed it out the door to him. Breakfasts often amounted to dry oatmeal, he said. Sometimes, he said, scraps of breakfast, lunch and dinner were all piled in the plastic container. And on at least one occasion the Trebilcocks gave him moldy bread because they didn’t want it to go to waste.

“They gave it to me in the back in my trough,” he said.

Copyright 2015 Longview Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(10) Comments

  1. babyz65
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    babyz65 - July 17, 2012 11:36 am
    I am so infurieted, that I can hardly type. These people are beasts, and deserve the maximum penalty. I hope the judge does the right thing and gives it to them. They have to have evil in their heart to dish out so much cruelty to a human child, and so far we have onley heard of the one boy. I can onley imagine the suffering that the others also endured. This judge better not be soft. Im not in the mood to hear that they got away with it. THROW THE BOOK AT THEM!!!
  2. Norm
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    Norm - July 18, 2012 10:24 am
    I notice that the abusers are more than well-fed themselves. In the foster-adopt system we push adoptions out without taking the time to fully evaluate the motives or character of the prospective parents. How many of these children would have been better off in the homes of their parents. Sadly, this story is hardly unique. I agree with babyz -- throw the book at them, but don't forget to throw the adoption worker in the cell next to them.
  3. heres14u
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    heres14u - July 18, 2012 1:00 pm
    This is the society that we have allowed to flourish. we are getting what we deserve. it disgusts me also, but the truth that when we do not have any moral compass this is where we go. I would like to see community meetings, town halls to determine what this town is going to look like, what we want in this town. Its our town, we should take better care of what goes on here. its not a police matter, people being neighborly would have seen this sooner and taken the appropirate action.
  4. asmith94
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    asmith94 - July 20, 2012 12:21 pm
    This family is NOT a bad family at all. I've recently become friends with Dillon and Adam. Their family is nothing but nice to anyone who comes thru their door. And, the Trebilcock's don't have paintball guns. They never have. They have airsoft guns. Thats totally different. My opinion is, I really like this family. I disagree with what anyone says. But thats just my opinion.
  5. jerm
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    jerm - July 21, 2012 10:02 pm
    So asmith.. if these turn out to be true and they are found guilty, Will they still be "a nice family"? I am curious at the wisdom and intent in coming to a site where a story runs with the general consensus that SOMETHING wrong and wicked occurred and defending them. If this does turn out to be all a hoax and some elaborate ruse involving mysterious illnesses and weird coincidences, then maybe your rallying support will be a little more tolerable.
  6. candy
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    candy - July 23, 2012 1:26 pm
    assmith....you just recently became friends with these people, that statement alone tells me volumes, of course they are going to put on a good show, I wish you many happy meals at their home. to heres14u, in case you didn't read all of the articles, the neighbors did try and help the children, but their pleas went unheard. These people are monsters, and the very worst kind, if they don't spend the rest of their life in prison rotting then I think we should put out a petition to recall the judge
  7. laurelhurst_pirate
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    laurelhurst_pirate - July 25, 2012 9:34 am
    These people are monsters and anybody defending them should be ashamed of themselves. Assmith, what would these parents have to do for you to see how evil they truly are? You are blind.
    “There was no mistreatment,” Blondin said. “There was no abuse.” If you really believe that I have some beautiful ocean front property in Arizona to sell you.
  8. asmith94
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    asmith94 - August 01, 2012 12:54 pm
    Excuse me, but one of my friends parents have been friends with their family for a long time. My own opinion doesn't need to "offend" anyone. I know the truth, and I'm going to say what I believe. No one knows this family personally, therefore, don't judge. I'm not "blind" I just know this family, and they would NEVER hurt anyone.
  9. JosieComments
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    JosieComments - August 16, 2012 6:53 am
    Can you imagine the judge saying that this is a good family! Sometimes I feel like I stepped into an alternate universe. What is it that people don't see? The unfortunate boy will suffer the rest of his life from the abuse these fat monsters imposed on him. Oh they ate well enough didn't they! The boy is a psychosocial dwarf from weighing in like a terminal cancer patient. He will need lifetime counseling to deal with the abuse he suffered at the trebilcocks. They deserve the death penalty.
  10. JosieComments
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    JosieComments - August 16, 2012 7:06 am
    People know what happened. Nevermind what the foolish and smug say. Maybe someday God will let those who deny know what this type of suffering feels like. To have no hope, to be humiliated, to be considered subhuman, to feel hunger...(very sick people experience hunger but can't eat due to their illness)...Yes God can do that. Sometimes people have to suffer similar fates to comprehend the suffering of others. It happens this way more often than we think.
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