Police say Edwin Emery, 79; Thomas Emery, 80; and Charles Emery, 82; lived in the same home in north Seattle for about 50 years. They were arrested Monday and charged with possession of child pornography.
Police describe the inside of their home in Seattle and another one in Shelton as being stacked floor to ceiling with pornographic images. Court documents reveal the home “can only be described as a substantial hoarder home,” that detectives said was “difficult to walk through as every square inch was covered with items.”
Retired Pierce County homicide detective Ben Benson said hoarder homes are some of the most difficult to investigate. Typically, you see one person living in hoarding conditions, he said, but to find three is rare. “You don’t very often see multiple people in a household like that,” said Benson.
King County property documents show the property is 2,500 square feet. It is listed as two stories, with a basement. In court documents, detectives estimate the Emery brothers’ alleged child porn collection to have taken a “lifetime to accumulate.”
Given those conditions, Benson said, investigators will be taxed, physically and emotionally. “You’re going in there with protective gear on, masks, breathing apparatus and it’s 90 degrees outside and you’re wading your way through garbage, sometimes looking for pieces of trace evidence or looking for things you don’t even know you’re looking for until you find it,” he said.
Police are asking anyone who may have been victimized by any of the three brothers to come forward. KCPQ spoke with one expert who say it’s society’s problem with hiding family secrets that allows persistent child sex abuse.
“These three individuals have an obsession with young female children, they’ve had this obsession for most if not all of their lives and in some cases acted out on that obsession on family members,” said Seattle Police Capt. Mike Edwards.
Police said Edwin Emery admitted to molesting female family members in the past.
Police say the sexual abuse of family members went on for decades, but it’s the nameless victims kicking this investigation into overdrive. One brother, Charles Emery, worked at Seattle Children’s Hospital for a lengthy amount of time. Officials haven't specified the exact date he began working at the hospital.
The hospital released a statement saying, in part, “At this time we are not aware of any connection between his alleged crimes and Seattle Children’s.”
“This is a crime of opportunity and not unusual at all that that is looking for opportunities to abuse children gets a job where they really have a whole bunch of victims right there,” said Shepherd’s Counseling Services Executive Director Janice Palm.
Palm has dedicated her life to helping adults who are now child sex abuse survivors by co-founding Shepherd’s Counseling Services in Seattle.
“They feel so ashamed and so bad they’re not likely to come forward,” Palm said of victims.
It’s the secret cycle of abuse that Palm says keeps child sex abusers safe and able to continue their crimes. Wednesday, investigators combed through the north Seattle home pulling out pornography and young girls' clothing and shoes belonging to potential victims.
“We also recovered (an) extensive number of writings. These writings detail not only some of the sexual abuse, the interest in young female children, but in addition to that very graphic descriptions of harming and doing very disgusting things to children as well,” said Edwards.
Palm argues that opens up the door to any and all victims, including missing persons cases.
“It is very possible that homicide is involved here. We know these things happen and they don’t come to light. Then they keep happening,” said Palm. “Perpetrators that act out this much for that long are really capable of anything. There’s a detachment from reality and a detachment from any moral sense of what is right and wrong.”
The Seattle Times reported that authorities in Grays Harbor County on Wednesday said they were working to establish a possible link between the brothers and the 2009 disappearance of 10-year-old Lindsey Baum in McCleary, Wash. However, authorities said there is no information to link the brothers to that case.
“Based on the age of these three offenders, this didn’t just start with them last year or in the last 10 years. This has been going on for decades,” said retired FBI detective David Gomez. “Serial sexual offenders tend to keep souvenirs, some kind of memento from their victim and their crimes that allow them to relive the crime over time later on.”
Investigators are searching a second home owned by the Emery brothers in Shelton.
While police want any alleged victims to come forward, Palm says it’s important for those who may have been triggered by this case of were victimized by the brothers to seek support services like Shepherd’s Counseling Services.
You can also find resources on how to keep your kids safe from child predators.