Could brothers in life-long sex abuse investigation be tied to missing children?

by: Ashli Blow, KIRO 7 News Digital Producer Updated:

SEATTLE - There was no immediate connection between three Seattle brothers who police believed collected child pornography for decades and local missing person cases.

But at least one law enforcement officer is investigating the possibility. The Gray's Harbor Sheriff told KIRO 7 he's investigating whether the brothers have any connection to the 2009 disappearance of Lindsey Baum in southwest Washington.

Charles Emery, 82, Thomas Emery, 80, and Edwin Emery, 79, are charged with possessing child pornography. 

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"It's very clear that these three individuals have an obsession with young female children, they've had this obsession for most if not all of their lives, and they acted on it,” said Capt. Mike Edwards, who leads SPD's Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force.

82-year-old Charles Emery is one of the three brothers arrested in a child sex abuse investigation.

Detectives discovered a staggering amount of child pornography along with children's worn clothing, underwear, small shoes, toys and movies. Investigators believe each of the men spent the majority of their lives sexually abusing children. 

But it was an unearthed “manifesto” about Satanic rituals, kidnapping, raping and killing girls that led detectives to dig under sheds, searching for evidence of potential murder. Charles’ writings were found buried and partially burned -- along with a child's hat. 

"Their writings express desires to kill children," Edwards said.

Baum flier found at family home

Lindsey Baum disappeared from McCleary while walking back from a friend’s house in 2009. The 10-year-old’s disappearance sparked a nationwide investigation. 

McCleary is a roughly 30-minute drive from Shelton, where the brothers also owned a property. The Emery's now-deceased brother, Donald, remained in the Shelton home until 2016. 

Age-progressed photo of Lindsey Baum

Grays Harbor County Sheriff Rick Scott confirmed to KIRO 7 News that a flier about Baum was found in the Shelton home, but there is no known connection between the brothers and the disappearance of Baum. Police are investigating. 

“When we heard of the link to the Shelton property, and its proximity to McCleary, and the nature of the paper work they found at the [Seattle home] … We immediately began to see if there’s anything that would link to our investigation,” Scott told KIRO 7 News.

“The Lindsey Baum case has been and will be a priority until we find closure or find Lindsey safe. We’ve worked on the case every day in some shape or form.” 

According to Scott, detectives intend to do an extensive search of the Shelton property, but it will take a large team as it sits on 14 to 17 acres of land. 

The search extended from the home in the Green Lake neighborhood to another home the brothers owned 90 miles away in Shelton. Image: KIRO 7

Viewer questions about 1956 case 

Back at the brothers’ home near Green Lake, detectives on Wednesday set up a tent on the lawn to search and remove items. 

Some neighborhood residents and people on social media have speculated on missing persons cases connections in the North Seattle area, but police have not indicated any links. A commenter on the KIRO 7 Facebook page mentioned a case where a young girl’s body was found in a garage in the 1950s. 

KIRO 7 News ran an archive search that showed in June 1956, the body of Kathryn Ruoff was found in a garage at 4718 Sixth Ave. N.E. – a site that was bulldozed for the construction of Interstate 5.

Home in Green Lake. Image: KIRO 7
 

But a mentally ill man, Ray John Earl Barker, admitted to molesting and killing Ruoff when he was 12. Barker was charged with second-degree murder in April 1963 and was committed to Western State Hospital.

Former Seattle cold case detective gives perspective

KIRO 7 News talked to a retired Seattle homicide detective about the social media speculation and possible connections between the Emery brothers and missing persons. 

That detective, Mike Ciesynski, said it would be out of the ordinary for missing persons cases to line up. 

“Especially when that child went missing from the neighborhood and never had any contact with the suspect,” said Ciesynski, who spent years investigating Seattle cold cases.

“In my experience  ... usually the case revolves around the mother’s boyfriend [physically] assaulting one of the kids, [child] goes missing … and in some cases the mother tries to cover it up for the boyfriend.”  

As for detectives currently working on the Emery brothers’ investigation, the case remains active. They’re seeking leads from the public and any information related to possible victims. Anyone with information can call 206-684-5259.

Scroll down to read a timeline about the brothers curated by the KIRO 7 News digital team. 


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Timeline of events related to brothers' investigation 

August 23, 2017: Detectives return to the 141 N.E. 59th St. property and search the home as part of a forensic investigation. Some of the detectives involved are with the Internet Crimes Against Children unit.

August 17, 2017: The brothers, Edwin, Thomas and Charles Emery, are charged with second-degree possession of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct and another count of second-degree possession of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

August 16, 2017: Seattle police Detective Danial Conine gets a search warrant for several boxes and bags of materials provided by an Emery relative, listed as T.W. in court documents. The search warrant is signed by King County Superior Court Judge Helen Halpert. Conine searches the materials provided by T.W., which allegedly includes hundreds of nude images of children, dozens of pairs of children’s penny loafer shoes, children’s underwear that appears used, condoms that appear used, dozens of books and articles related to child homicides and handwritten notes describing how girls would wear penny loafers prior to abuse and murders occurring, according to charging documents.

August 9, 2017: A relative of Charles Emery, who has legal guardianship over him, contacts police and says she has discovered “boxes of material including pornographic images of underage girls, young girls clothing/shoes, magazine clippings of missing and murdered young girls and handwritten notes detailing the kidnapping, torturing, raping and murdering of young girls during the process of cleaning out the garage area,” according to a police document.

January 25, 2013: Seattle police Detective Danial Conine interviews Edwin Emery at 141 N.E. 59th St. He admits there could be child pornography on his computer, admits to sexual abuse of one of his sisters and that sister’s daughter, according to court documents. Then age 73, Edwin Emery also discusses his sexual attraction to “sub-teenage” girls, court documents state. The interview is recorded. However, prosecutors do not file charges.

January 22, 2013: Seattle police contact Office Depot employees who had reported Edwin Emery brought his black Xion custom-built desktop computer tower with a Seagate 320 GB hard drive there for service and repair. Employees say they had conducted a diagnostic check on the computer and found images of suspected female child pornography. Seattle police are given consent to check the computer by Edwin Emery, and a forensic examination leads to the discovery of roughly 20 pictures of child erotica, nudist colony activity and several lascivious display images, according to court documents.

September 7, 1987: Ermina Emery, the mother of the suspects and wife of Harold, dies.

December 24, 1970: Harold W. Emery, father of the suspects, dies at age 75. Emery, who was a private in the U.S. Army, is buried at the Willamette National Cemetery in Oregon. Harold Emery lived at the 141 N.E. 59th Street, which was searched by police in 2017.

March 14, 1962: Edwin H. Emery, one of the three brothers, buys the Green Lake property at 141 N.E. 59th St. in Seattle. March 14, 1962, is the day the deed was filed. Edwin purchases the home for $12,950. City directories list only Thomas D. Emery at the property in 1965, 1980 and 1990. The 1965 Seattle city directory lists Thomas and Edwin H. Emery. 

November 17, 1938: Edwin Harold Emery is born.

July 14, 1937: Thomas Edwin Emery is born.

October 15, 1934: Charles Lee Emery is born.


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