Disney worker among 2 arrested on child porn charges

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POLK COUNTY, Fla. - Two central Florida men are facing similar child porn charges, and investigators said both suspects have connections to local theme parks.

Detectives said they arrested Thomas Wheeler, 46, at his home on Fox Loop Lane in Davenport.

Wheeler is a retired master sergeant of the U.S. Air Force who told detectives he worked as a security guard at Disney World's Animal Kingdom, authorities said.

"Our agency, working with other ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) partners, will continue to actively investigate anyone participating in this despicable victimization of children, and when we find them, they will go to jail," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

Wheeler's son said he couldn't believe his eyes as agents hauled his father away to jail.

"I turned around the corner there, (and) the door was busted open," said Wheeler's son, Chris Wheeler. "The sheriff's department was telling me to get on the ground."

Investigators said Wheeler's computer revealed numerous images of children between the ages of 9 and 11 years old who were engaged in sexual activity.

Wheeler confessed to detectives that he had been viewing child pornography for several years out of curiosity. Investigators said Wheeler also said he enjoyed viewing the images because of the "innocence" of the children.

Disney said Wheeler is on paid leave from his job.

The second arrest was made at the Outdoor Resort mobile home park on Highway 192 in Clermont. Officers said they arrested Edward Freiberger, 67, who told them he also enjoyed visiting several local theme parks.

The investigation began after detectives said they received 11 cyber tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Freiberger told detectives he was unemployed but had retired from a nuclear power plant.

Investigators said they found more than 60 images of child pornography on Freiberger's computer. They said the images were of children as young as 6 months old and that some of the children were being sexually battered.

Detectives said they also found a notepad containing the email, age, clothing description and a request for Mike's Hard Lemonade for a child Freiberger was planning to meet at the Altamonte Springs Mall.

Officers said Freiberger, however, denied meeting a child but did admit to talking sexually to them in online chatrooms.

Detectives said Freiberger provided a full confession, claiming he didn't know it was illegal to download child pornography, and admitted he derived pleasure from watching a sexual battery video.

Detectives said they also removed 15 high-powered rifles, shotguns and handguns from Freiberger's residence.

Freiberger and Wheeler were booked into the Polk County Jail.

"The graphic images discovered in this investigation were not just images of children without clothes, these images are horrific displays of children being forced to expose their genitals, forced to perform sexual acts – images of children being raped," said Judd.