How Three Brothers Sexually Abused Generations of Women in Their Family

The eldest brother worked at a children’s hospital, the next oldest held a variety of jobs and the youngest brother was a longtime employee at Boeing. The three men lived together for 55 years in a cluttered Seattle home that until last week hid disturbing secrets – a massive hoard of child pornography, the alleged sexual abuse of their female family members and photos and clothing from unidentified children that detectives are now probing for links to unsolved murder cases.

“We started with two victims and it’s grown to four,” Seattle Police Department Capt. Mike Edwards tells Newsweek. “We’re confident we’re only at the tip of the iceberg.”

The investigation into Charles Emery, 82, Thomas Emery, 80, and Edwin Emery, 78, has found that the brothers sexually abused at least two and possibly three generations of women in their family. When the brothers were children, all three of them sexually abused a female family member – identified in court papers only as E.V. – so intensely that she was forced out of the family home and into foster care, according to court papers filed by Seattle prosecutors. Charles and Edwin later sexually abused that woman’s daughter, identified as T.W., beginning when she was a toddler, T.W. told investigators.

The abuse may have descended down yet another generation, to T.W.’s daughter, who court papers refer to as S.K. When police searched of the childless brother’s home last week, they found a sinister stash of items including hundreds of pictures of girls being abused, stained girl’s panties, dozens of children’s penny loafers, and dozens of notes describing the sexual abuse of girls – sometimes after giving them soda spiked with vodka. Finally, investigators found an airplane-sized bottle of vodka tucked inside a small penny loafer inscribed, “S.K.’s first half ounce of liquor came from this bottle.”

“We’ve got multiple generations involved here, and nobody in the family ever said anything,” says Edwards, who added that long ago the brothers also molested the elder sister of E.V., the family member the brothers drove into foster care. “In this line of work, there’s bad and there’s very bad. This one is very bad.”

The brothers were charged Monday with child pornography, but prosecuting them for the alleged sexual abuse of their family members appears to be impossible because the statute of limitations has expired. The brothers are each held on $500,000 bail and no defense attorneys representing them could be reached Tuesday evening.

“At the time of filing, law enforcement is actively executing search warrants and interviewing witnesses to determine the extent of the defendants’ child sexual exploitation crimes as well as evidence of homicide,” Seattle prosecutor Cecilia Gregson wrote in her case summary. Among the evidence pointing toward potential murders are a pink child’s hat partially buried in the brothers’ crawl space. “Both Thomas and Edwin Emery denied knowledge of child homicide, but would reply to law enforcement questions on the topic that it was ‘possible’ if everything the officers was saying was true,” court papers state.

IMG_7508 Police found child pornography, children's clothes and handwritten manifestos detailing the rape and murder of children at this Seattle home shared by the elderly Emery brothers, who were arrested and charged with possession of child pornography on Monday. Brendan Trickey

The probe into the brothers was sparked August 9 when T.W., the family member who says the brothers got her drunk and photographed and molested her, found boxes packed with obscene photos of notes while she was cleaning up the brothers’ garage and called police. Besides pornographic images of children and handwritten notes detailing the kidnapping, rape and murder of young girls, T.W. also found socks and shoes just like the ones Charles Emery dressed her up in before he abused and photographed her, according to court papers.

Once police saw the items T.W. discovered and heard her descriptions of the abuse she suffered at the brothers’ hands, the investigation began in earnest. A detective on Sunday walked into the Seattle nursing home where Charles Emery recently moved because of his dementia, took swabs from the old man’s mouth, then woke him up to ask about the child pornography and abuse. “I talked with Charles about the things that he wrote concerning the abuse of S.K., he would become upset and told me that he was going to sue me for saying such things about her,” the detective wrote in court papers. “When I asked Charles about his fantasies, he stated in the fantasy pages girls would be kidnapped, raped and killed.”

When police questioned Charles Emery’s younger brothers, they eerily described his “collection” of photos, violent manifestos and related items as “Charles’ hobby.” But when questioned by a detective, Edwin Emery said he is the sole user of the computer in the brothers’ home and that he printed off pornographic images to share with his brothers. “Notably, Edwin Emery disclosed viewing the pornographic material in the living room area in view of his brothers Thomas and Charles, who sometimes look at the pictures,” court papers state. (A fourth brother, older than Charles, died recently and since the investigation began, pornographic material was also found at his home, police said.)

Seattle police are now searching for any victims the brothers may have targeted outside their family, especially since detectives learned Edwin and Thomas Emery would try to photograph children in public but were often rebuffed by parents. Investigators are combing through a large number of photographs found inside the home, including undeveloped 35 mm film, and also examining records at Seattle Children’s Hospital, where Charles Emery was a janitor from the 1970s through the 1990s.

“These guys are pretty old, so I’m sure some of these photos will go back two or three decades or even longer,” Edwards says, asking that any victims or people with knowledge about the brothers email or call his team at wa.icac@seattle.gov or 206.684.4351. “Their interests and obsessions go back to when they were very young.”

A short sentence in the court papers revealed how the brothers were able to target not just one, but possibly three generations of women in their family. T.W., the relative who first called police on the brothers, told investigators that she allowed Charles Emery, the man who abused her, to take her daughter to Hawaii with him at least once. How could she have willingly put her daughter in his hands? She answered that since her mother – who the brothers also abused as a child – was along on the island trip, she believed her daughter would be safe.

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