The three reclusive Emery brothers have lived in the same yellow Seattle house for more than 50 years, rarely making contact with others in the neighborhood brimming with young children.
But inside their home, the brothers — Charles Emery, 82; Thomas Emery, 80; and Edwin Emery, 78 — allegedly spent a lifetime obsessing over the sexual exploitation of young girls. Their crumbling home, as described by prosecuting attorney Daniel T. Satterberg, was ‘‘littered from floor to ceiling’’ with pornographic images, magazine clippings of slain children, and handwritten notes that detailed the ‘‘kidnapping, torturing, raping, and murdering of young girls.’’
Within the horrifying stash, investigators said they found children’s toys, young girls’ used underwear, and dozens of pairs of children’s shoes. Stuffed inside tiny penny loafers were miniature vodka bottles, including one with the initial of a younger relative. There were dozens of handwritten letters, videos, and books detailing ‘‘ritualistic and satanic sacrifices’’ of small girls.
In a crawl space in the home, investigators found a pink child’s hat, partially buried in dirt beside a burned note.
The brothers kept these atrocities hidden for decades, until a female relative came over to clean out the garage. After coming across the evidence of child pornography, she alerted law enforcement.
On Monday, King County prosecutors charged each of the three Emery brothers with two counts of second-degree possession of depictions of minors engaged in sexual conduct. All three are in jail in lieu of $500,000 bail.
The brothers, the prosecutor wrote, collected ‘‘images depicting the misery of sexually abused children to satiate their deeply rooted deviant interests.’’
The crimes, police believe, also go beyond possessing these items — police have evidence that the brothers have sexually assaulted at least two children within their extended family.
‘‘It’s very clear that these three individuals have an obsession with young female children,’’ Captain Mike Edwards of the Seattle Police Department said in a news conference Monday. ‘‘They’ve had this obsession for most if not all of their lives and in some cases acted out on that obsession against family members.’’
The female relative who reported the child pornography told police that two of the men — Charles and Edwin Emery — sexually abused her as a child. She also told them the three men sexually abused another relative to the extent that she was removed from her family’s home and placed in foster care for protection, according to court documents, which were uploaded online by the HuffPost.
These allegations are still being investigated, Edwards said. But because of the length of time that has passed since the alleged crimes took place, it is unlikely that charges would come from them, Edwards said.
The female family member has legal guardianship of Charles Emery, who has been in a senior living facility because of dementia, according to court documents. From the 1970s through the 1990s, Charles Emery worked as a janitor at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
The Emery brothers have lived together their entire lives, have never been married, and never had children.
Nor do they have histories of criminal convictions. But in 2013, authorities investigated Edwin Emery for possession of child pornography. Police learned about the alleged crimes after Office Depot employees found about 20 pornographic images while repairing his computer.
At the time, Edwin Emery admitted to police that he sexually abused two of his female family members when he was about 25 or 26. One of these relatives, he told police, was about 8 to 10 years old when he repeatedly molested her as she would sit on his lap. He told authorities he was attracted to ‘‘sub-teenage’’ girls, according to court documents.
During that same 2013 investigation, the female relative alleged that Edwin Emery sexually abused her numerous times as a child. She said that Charles Emery would also sexually assault her, giving her alcohol before certain instances. During the abuse, the relative said, Charles Emery would also dress her up in socks and shoes similar to those later found in his home.
No criminal charges were filed following the 2013 investigation, though it is unclear why.
Prosecutors said Charles Emery wrote extensive ‘‘manifestos detailing child rape and homicide.’’ His brothers referred to the trove of pornographic and morbid items as ‘‘Charles’ hobby.’’
When police interviewed them, Edwin and Thomas Emery ‘‘remained nonchalant and relatively unconcerned about the serious nature of the investigation,’’ according to charging documents. The two men denied any knowledge of child murder, but told detectives it was ‘‘possible’’ killings took place ‘‘if everything the officers was saying was true.’’
‘‘Their writings express desires to kill children,’’ Edwards said in the news conference. While investigators have not yet found any evidence of homicide, they have been searching the brothers’ property for possible human remains with cadaver dogs.
‘‘Additional properties are being searched for the presence of child exploitation materials and evidence of kidnapping, abuse, and child homicide,’’ detectives wrote.
Investigators are still working to identify the children who are pictured in the pornographic images, Edwards said.
‘‘We’re erring on the side of caution with all of this,’’ Edwards said. ‘‘We’re not taking anything at this point for granted.’’