Man Renovating New Home Finds Child Porn Hidden in Drywall

A father and son have been arrested in connection with a child sexual assault case in a probe that was sparked by child pornography being uncovered during a house renovation.

The Sacramento County Sheriff's Department said in a statement on Thursday that Theodore Smith, 86, and his son James Smith, 62, had been arrested and for their alleged involvement in the sexual assault of children.

It followed an investigation that started in March when police were alerted by the owner of a house in Orangevale who had uncovered a collection of child abuse images while he was tearing out some drywall from the property.

"It was homemade pictures and I could tell that the contents were not something that I should be involved in at all," the unnamed man said, according to KCRA. "The first call I made was to the sheriff's department."

Stock image police car
A stock image of a police car. Sacramento County police are investigating after obscene images of children were discovered in a house renovation. Getty

Detectives believed the pictures were taken between 1985 and 1995 and had been left at the property by the previous residents, who had moved to Texas.

Sheriff's detectives assisted by two Texas sheriff's offices and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security served a search warrant at a home in Cherokee County, Texas and arrest warrants were then issued for the two men.

The elder Smith was arrested at home in Alto while his son was arrested while on a trip back to California.

Sacramento sheriff's detectives are still in Texas processing other evidence obtained during a search of the elder Smith's home.

Sacramento County Sheriff's Office Lieutenant Shaun Hampton said that the "alleged crimes we have here, are sickening," KCRA reported.

Hampton said that law enforcement would have to build up a timeline "from when we believe those photos were taken up until today" to see where the arrested men had been living and what they had been doing in the previous decades.

Theodore Smith faces a number of charges, including 34 counts of lewd acts of a child under 14 with force, Fox 40 reported, and his bond has been set at $7 million.

"Through a collaborative effort involving the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office, the victims were identified," the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department statement said.

It added that investigators had "worked tirelessly to identify the suspects, build a case, and establish a timeline of when the crimes occurred."

The property's new owner said he hoped his discovery would help the victims deal with the trauma of what had happened to them.

"Although nothing can bring them back what they lost, it's not too late to have justice for them," the Orangevale property owner said, according to KCRA.

Newsweek has contacted the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office for comment.