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Discovery of 'gingerbread house' in Washington woods leads to child porn charges

A man faces child pornography charges after this treehouse was found deep in the Snoqualmie National Forest. (Photo: FBI)

NORTH BEND, Wash. (KOMO) - What began as a search for an illegally built cabin deep in the Snoqualmie National Forest has led to child pornography charges against a Mill Creek man.

Court documents say there were images of naked or scantily-clad young girls on the walls of what turned out to be an elaborately built treehouse. A later search of the suspect's Mill Creek home turned up "thousands of images of child erotica and child pornography," court documents say.

Daniel Wood, 51, was charged last week with two counts of possession of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

The investigation of Wood stretches to November 2016, when an employee of the state's Department of Natural Resources began looking for a cabin illegally built on federally owned land. It was supposed to be eight miles up Southeast Middle Fork Road in the Snoqualmie National Forest.

The Forest Service knew about the cabin and had visited it two or three years earlier. There were no images in the cabin when last visited, court documents say.

The DNR worker had heard rumors about the cabin from hikers and set out to find it. It took him six tries.

He confiscated some of the images he found and contacted the King County Sheriff's Office.

A Sheriff's Office detective described the cabin "as an elaborate treehouse that resembled a fairy or gingerbread house," court documents say, "There was a porch around the structure, a front door and windows on the side, as well as a pitched roof and a ladder from the ground to the porch."

Two framed photos that had been screwed to the treehouse's walls showed naked young girls. A folder was found in the treehouse that contained images of naked or scantily clad young girls, court documents say.

Investigators also took items that could contain DNA samples and fingerprints.

Then in April 2017, a search and rescue volunteer provided a license plate number of an SUV that had been parked along the road near the trail head that led to the cabin, court documents say.

The license plate number led to Wood, and investigators began surveillance of his Mill Creek home, court documents say.

In August 2017, investigators saw Wood throw away a drinking cup. An FBI laboratory analyzed the DNA from the cup and from samples found in the treehouse.

Court documents show there was strong support that the samples matched.

In February 2018, Wood's Mill Creek home was searched.

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