On January 29, 2013, Polk County Sheriff’s Office Computer Crimes, Vice and Gang detectives executed two search warrants in the northeast area of Polk County. These warrants were the result of two proactive investigations involving individuals Downloading And Trading Child Pornography.
“The graphic images discovered in this investigation were not just images of children without clothes,” said Sheriff Grady Judd. “These images are horrific displays of children being forced to expose their genitals, forced to perform sexual acts – images of children being raped. Our agency, working with other ICAC partners, will continue to actively investigate anyone participating in this despicable victimization of children; and when we find them, they will go to jail.”
The first search warrant was executed at 540 Fox Loop in Davenport, the residence of 46-year-old Thomas Wheeler, a retired Master Sergeant from the US Air Force, who told detectives he works as a security guard at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom.
Initially, the investigation was begun by Osceola County Sheriff’s Office when it was believed the suspect lived within their jurisdiction. Once it was determined the suspect lived in Polk County, OCSO contacted detectives at the PCSO. Osceola County Sheriff’s Office is a partner agency with the Central Florida Internet Crimes Against Children, or ICAC, Task Force.
During the search warrant, a forensic preview of Wheeler’s computer revealed numerous images of children between the ages of 9 and 11 years of age engaged in sexual activity.
The suspect confessed to detectives that he had been viewing child pornography for several years out of curiosity. He further stated he enjoyed viewing the images because of the “innocence” of the children.
The second search warrant was executed at The Outdoor Resort Mobile Home park located at 9000 Highway 192 Lot #6 in Clermont (Polk County) the residence of 67-year-old Edward Freiberger.
This investigation began after detectives received 11 Cybertips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The tips revealed the suspect was downloading child pornography.
Freiberger told detectives he was unemployed but had retired from a (unknown) nuclear power plant.
Detectives learned Freiberger “spends time at theme parks.” During the initial forensic preview of the suspect’s computer, over 60 images of child pornography were found. Detectives learned Freiberger had a large collection of child pornography and was saving the images on compact disks.
The images recovered were of children as young as 6 months old being sexually battered. Also found at the Freiberger’s residence was a note pad containing the email, age, clothing description, and request for Uncle Mikes Hard Lemonade for a child he was planning to meet at the Altamont Springs Mall. The suspect denied meeting a child but did admit to talking sexually to them in online chat rooms.
The suspect provided a full confession claiming he didn’t know it was illegal to download child pornography and admitted he derived pleasure from watching the sexual battery video.
Detectives also removed 15 high powered rifles, shotguns and handguns from Freiberger’s residence.
Both suspects were booked into the Polk County Jail.
Thomas Andrew Wheeler, W/M, 11/19/66, 540 Fox Loop, Davenport, is charged with Possession of Child Pornography (7 counts), Distribution of Child Pornography.
Edward Joseph Freiberger, W/M, 6/29/45, 9000 Highway 192 Lot #6, Clermont, FL (Polk County), is charged with Possession of Child Pornography (60 counts).