More than 40,000 images and videos involving child pornography were obtained from a Jefferson home on Tuesday.
Husband and wife Doug Chellew, 56, and Carol Chellew, 56, were arrested at their home located in Hickory Hills neighborhood around 5:30 p.m. by eight Jefferson officers, Chief Joseph W. Wirthman with the Jefferson Police Dept. said.
The Chellews were among 31 Georgians arrested last week as part of Operation Southern Impact III.
At the time of the arrest, Wirthman said Doug Chellew was sitting at his computer in the A-frame home’s living room on multiple live chat rooms with underage children and actively downloading child pornography.
Carol Chellew, who was gardening at the time of the arrest, claimed she had no idea about the child pornography. Officials said the nearly 1,200 sq. ft. home wasn’t large enough for them to believe her claim. Carol Chellew was booked into the Jackson County Jail shortly after her interview.
What was discovered in the living room of the Chellew residence was beyond grotesque, Wirthman said. Authorities recovered a .38 revolver, more than 500 discs of child pornography dating as far back as 2002, multiple hard drives, USBs, computers and cell phones, all loaded with child exploitation of children as young as infants. Authorities said a bottle of urine sat near Doug Chellew's computer. Authorities believe Chellew would relieve himself at his computer rather than walk away from the desk.
What makes this particular arrest unique is the fact the suspects involved were a married couple.
“It’s unusual,” Wirthman said. “I would say more times than not it’s just one person hiding out in a closet or a spare room, but this was out in plain view for everyone to see.”
Hidden in the home were two rifles, a pistol, an AR-15 and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, according to Wirthman.
According to authorities, Doug Chellew was well-known in the small town of Jefferson. He was a freelance photographer who was known to take photos of area sporting events. Doug Chellew was an employee at the Home Goods distribution center in Jefferson.
Carol Chellew was working as a civilian clerk for the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, but a press release Monday morning from Jackson County Sheriff Janis Mangum said Chellew was terminated following her arrest.
Carol Chellew was charged with 15 counts of possession or control of material depicting minors in a sexually explicit conduct. She bonded out of the Jackson County Jail on a $225,000 bond.
Doug Chellew, who is a convicted felon, faces 15 counts of possession or control material depicting minors in a sexually explicit conduct and one count of firearm possession. Chellew remains in jail at this time; his bond is set at $315,000.
The Jefferson Police Department was one of dozens of law enforcement agencies that worked alongside the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in an investigation code-named Operation Southern Impact III. The operation began four months ago and included undercover operations for crimes involving child exploitation in eight states.
Additional details on the operation can be found in a previous article.