A nationwide manhunt for a suspect in a child pornography investigation has resulted in two people arrested in Oregon and two girls rescued from an allegedly sexually abusive home.
Last month, agents from U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) sought public help to identify a “Jane Doe” suspect who had been identified in videos depicting two young girls under the age of 10 who the agents said were sexually victimized.
Michael Serapis Freeman and Michelle Lee Freeman turned themselves in to local police after the campaign resulted in tips identifying Michelle Freeman as the Jane Doe suspect.
An acquaintance of the married couple told Michael Freeman that he or she would turn in him and his wife to law enforcement, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials said. On Tuesday, Michael Freeman contacted the local police in Salem, Ore., to tell officers that his wife was sought by federal law enforcement officials.
Last month, ICE agents obtained a criminal complaint and federal warrant from a U.S. District Court Judge in Washington, D.C., to arrest the woman who was unknown to investigators besides her picture.
ICE agents from Los Angeles had been working on the investigation since June 2011, when they executed a search warrant and seized a computer with images said to depict two girls being abused.
A break in the investigation came in June 2012, when the FBI in Colorado seized a computer that had more than 200 images and two videos of the child victims with the images of the female Jane Doe suspect.
After the initial awareness campaign, ICE agents received tips that the Jane Doe lived or worked in the Pacific Northwest. With this information, ICE conducted a more targeted awareness campaign in Oregon and Washington state.
“When leads turned cold in this case, HSI special agents asked for the public’s help,” said ICE director John Morton in a statement. “Thanks to that help, two child victims have been rescued and their accused abusers are in custody. Children have the right to be safe from predators.
“There is no higher work and we will continue to investigate these crimes with our law enforcement partners.” Both Michael and Michelle Freeman have been charged with the sexual exploitation of children for the production of child pornography
According to ICE officials, an Oregon state search warrant was obtained Tuesday to search the Freemans’ home, where law enforcement seized the couple’s computers from their residence in Salem, Ore., according to a criminal complaint.
Michael Freeman allegedly told ICE agents that he was in “a bad place,” the complaint said. “I started it. Somehow she [Michelle Lee Freeman] got involved,” Freeman allegedly told ICE agents.
Calls to the federal defender’s office in Portland to request comment on behalf of the couple about the charges were not immediately returned. If convicted of the charges, the couple could face 15 to 30 years in prison.