SEATTLE — After a nearly yearlong investigation, the Washington State Patrol has arrested a man they allege is the No. 1 child pornography download offender.
Thursday morning, Gig Harbor police took Elwood Anderson, 46, into custody. He is a husband and father, was active in his church and even coached a youth soccer team. He is also a computer software engineer who, according to the Missing and Exploited Children’s Task Force, used sophisticated methods to hide thousands of explicit images of children on his computer. That made the process leading to an arrest a little more difficult.
“The case originated with the Seattle I.C.A.C. unit and looked at the contents of his computer electronically. At that point, they determined he was the No. 1 suspect in downloading and sharing child exploited images,” an undercover agent called “Curtis” said.
The investigation started in December 2012 and investigators with the I.C.A.C. (Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force) obtained a search warrant in July allowing them to seize computers and other items from Anderson’s home. Due to his expertise, it took a specialized team to uncover 10,000 pornographic images and hundreds of videos hidden on his equipment.
Jason Keays is with the High Tech Crime Unit and helped uncover some of the images.
“We learned that he was a computer programmer developer so we immediately started looking in different spots in the evidence,” Keays said. Keays works in digital forensics and was able to crack the code that Anderson created to hide his criminal activity.
“I was the one that uncovered the evidence, but it took all of us to go through this case. It was a little different in the way that he had his evidence, or contraband, stored and hidden,” he said.
“He was able to hide things and manipulate the evidence and believed, I think, that we weren’t going to locate it,” Curtis said. “I’m just happy that we got another guy like this off the streets.”
Anderson was booked into the Pierce County Jail on charges of dealing and possession of depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The investigation is ongoing and more charges could be filed.