UPDATED 11:42 a.m.: Federal officials are on the hunt for an unidentified man and woman depicted in a widely distributed child pornography series who they believe may be in the San Fernando Valley. A federal judge issued arrest warrants for "Jane Doe" and "John Doe" on December 31, but investigators are hoping members of the public will come forward to identify the suspects.
The investigation started five years ago, when a federal raid in Chicago turned up 40 photos involving a young girl – her identity unknown – who appears to be about 13. About half of the photos show "Jane Doe," whose face is clearly visible, and "John Doe," whose face never appears in the photos, molesting the victim. Since that 2007 raid, the same photos, now known as the "Jen series" (federal authorities give names to unidentified victims) have turned up in over 275 child pornography investigations across the country.
André Birotte Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Centeral District of California, said his office and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who investigated the case "exhausted all investigative techniques" trying to identify the suspects. They are now turning to the public for help.
Among those techniques, ICE worked with forensic photo experts from the non-profit National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Their experts managed to scrape together enough photographic evidence to determine that the photos were likely taken in Encino in about 2001.
According to Nick Brock, a supervisor with the center, some of the images of the apartment where the photos were shot reveal clues. In one photo, a wall calendar is visible and it's open to the month of May 2001. The calendar also shows the name of a religious supply store on Ventura Boulevard.
Another photo shows the binding of a Yellow Pages phone book for the West San Fernando Valley. Other evidence: a Men's Health magazine from 2000 and a cable modem box appropriate to the year and location.
The suspects, if identified and later convicted, face decades in prison, Birotte said. He added they likely didn't benefit financially from the photos, but that in the child pornography world, pornographers trade such photos "to feed their sick addiction."
Anyone with information regarding the case can call 1-866-DHS-2ICE or submit tips anonymously through the ICE website.
PREVIOUSLY: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says more than 200 adults have been arrested in a five-week, international investigation of child pornography.
The probe also yielded a warrant for the arrest of two unidentified adults in the Los Angeles area. The man and woman have been charged in Los Angeles with molesting a girl who appeared in online photos to be about 13 when she was abused. They are charged as "Jane Doe" and "John Doe." You can see a wanted poster of the couple below.
According to a statement released by ICE on Thursday:
"On Monday, HSI special agents in Los Angeles obtained a Jane and John Doe warrant based on a longstanding, unsolved case involving a widely distributed series of child pornography images. The photographs, which authorities believe were taken about 11 years ago, depict a male and female adult sexually molesting a girl who looks to be about 13 years old at the time. Although the male suspect's face has been purposely obscured by an unknown person, the female suspect's face can be seen in a number of the images. John Doe appears to be a white male, 40 to 50 years old; Jane Doe appears to be a white female, 35 to 45 years old. The suspects would now be approximately 11 years older. The female suspect has several tattoos, including: a black tattoo on her right hip resembling a butterfly; a tattoo on her right shoulder blade depicting the outline of a curled up cat; a tattoo with words across the top of her left wrist; and a tattoo of unknown design on the upper portion of her left breast."
"Based upon detailed forensic analysis, investigators suspect the abuse depicted in the images may have occurred in Los Angeles, possibly in the San Fernando Valley-area. HSI special agents in Los Angeles have interviewed dozens of individuals seeking further leads in the case, but they have yet to confirm the suspects' or victim's identities. Although the victim is likely an adult now, HSI continues to investigate the case in the hope that the perpetrators can be located and prosecuted, preventing the abuse of future victims."
"The sexual abuse images in this case were first discovered by HSI special agents in Chicago in 2007 in an unrelated child pornography investigation. The material was submitted to NCMEC's Child Victim Identification Program, which determined the victim had not yet been identified and could be in danger of ongoing sexual exploitation. After determining there was probable cause to believe that the abuse occurred in California in approximately 2001, NCMEC referred the case to HSI Los Angeles for further investigation."
ICE Director John Morton says 123 child victims were identified in the investigation, which ended in early December. It found 110 victims in 19 U.S. states, which includes three "significant cases" in the California cities of Clovis, Fresno and San Francisco. The others were living in six countries.Unidentified couple wanted for alleged child molestation in Los Angeles area