Cops: Animal Kingdom security guard charged with child porn

Polk County deputies arrest 2 on child pornography charges

DAVENPORT, Fla. - An Animal Kingdom security guard has been arrested on child pornography charges, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said Thomas Wheeler, 46, a retired Master Sergeant from the U.S. Air Force and employee at Disney's Animal Kingdom park, had downloaded on his home computer numerous images of children from the ages of 9 to 11 years old engaged in sexual activity.

When deputies went to serve the search warrant at his Davenport home, Wheeler told them he enjoyed looking at the images because of the "innocence" of children, officials said.

Chris Wheeler, the 23-year-old son of Thomas Wheeler, told Local 6 that he was home when deputies arrested his father. 

"I was in shock, an even after they left I was still," said Chris Wheeler, who works at a Magic Kingdom restaurant. "Shock for a good two hours. 'Cause he's really a stand up guy other than child pornography, I guess."

Chris Wheeler said his father's wife works at Universal Orlando.

"He's been a great father, he's been a great friend, like, he was in the military for 27 some-odd years and never any problem," Chris Wheeler said.

Thomas Wheeler faces 7 counts of possession of child pornography and distribution of child pornography.

Disney officials told Local 6 that Thomas Wheeler is currently on unpaid leave.

Local 6 spoke to Wheeler's neighbors, who say they're concerned for their children.

"That's what worries me if he comes back home," said neighbor Diana Barr. "Is he going to take pictures of my kids now?"

Meanwhile, another arrest was made by deputies on child porn charges for a man who told deputies he "spends time at theme parks." Edward Freiberger, 67,  has been charged with 60 counts of possession of child pornography after cyber tips led detectives to his home in Clermont.

Deputies said they found images of children as young as 6 months old being sexually battered, along with 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 Altamonte Springs Mall. 

According to the report, Freiberger denied meeting a child but did admit to talking sexually to children in online chat rooms.

Detectives also removed 15  high powered rifles, shotguns and handguns from Freiberger's residence, according to the report.

"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."

Both men were booked into Polk County Jail.

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