Ferndale man arrested after allegedly recording himself sexually assaulting a child

A 30-year-old Ferndale man was arrested in Florida after he allegedly video recorded and photographed himself performing sexual acts on a 10-year-old girl he was familiar with in 2017 at his parents’ house in Whatcom County.

The Ferndale Police Department booked Bruce David Vanderwoude into Whatcom County Jail on suspicion of first-degree child rape and sexual exploitation of a minor. According to Whatcom County Superior Court records, a warrant was issued for his arrest on Jan. 23.

Vanderwoude was located and arrested by the Fort Lauderdale (Florida) Police Department, according to Ferndale Communications Officer Riley Sweeney. After extradition to Washington state was granted, a Ferndale detective and an agent from the Department of Homeland Security investigations flew to Florida and took custody of Vanderwoude.

According to the court records, Ferndale police received a faxed Child Protective Services referral from Colorado Springs on Nov. 7 that a witness had called to report a sexual assault of a child. A Ferndale detective contacted the witness, who said she had allowed Vanderwoude to move into her Colorado Spring home three weeks before she filed the report.

The witness told Ferndale police that she was in the process of moving out of the house, and while packing for the move, her son found and brought her some electronic storage devices belonging to Vanderwoude. When she had an opportunity to look at the storage devices, according to court records, she reported seeing a video of Vanderwoude performing sexual acts on a small female child while she slept.

The witness also told police she had many SD cards belonging to Vanderwoude that showed other children taking showers and that she could recognize Vanderwoude as the person taking the videos, court records state.

The witness confronted Vanderwoude and his mother about the videos, and Vanderwoude reportedly denied it was him and attempted to destroy the storage devices, court documents said. Vanderwoude’s mother also reportedly bought him a plane ticket to Miami.

The witness notified the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, who took custody of the devices and forwarded them to the Ferndale detective working the case, who obtained a search warrant for the devices.

Further investigation of the storage devices revealed 10 images and 18 videos of Vanderwoude performing sexual acts on the small sleeping female child, court records state. Time stamps showed the videos and photos were taken on July 9, 2017, and another witness identified the location as Vanderwoude’s parents’ house and the identity of the child.

According to court records, Vanderwoude has a previous conviction for possession of a controlled substance in 2008.

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.