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Two Polk men charged, weapons seized in child porn raids

Tribune staff
Published:   |   Updated: March 13, 2013 at 11:12 AM

Two men are in jail after Polk County detectives found child pornography on their home computers, and seized a cache of weapons at one of the homes during searches Tuesday.

Detectives received 11 Cybertips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that Edward Freiberger, 67, of Clermont, was downloading child pornography, the sheriff's office said.

They went to Freiberger's home at 9000 Highway 192, Lot #6, and found more than 60 images of child pornography on his computer, the sheriff's office said. The images recovered showed children as young as 6 months being sexually battered.

Also found was a notepad with the email, age, clothing description and a request for Mikes Hard Lemonade for a child Freiberger was planning to meet at the Altamonte Mall in Altamonte Springs, the sheriff's office said.  Freiberger denied meeting the child but did admit to talking sexually to them in online chat rooms.

Freiberger confessed, saying he didn't know it was illegal to download child pornography. Freiberger, who said he was unemployed, faces 60 charges of possession of child pornography.

Detectives also removed 15 high-powered rifles, shotguns and handguns from his home.

Acting on information from the Osceola County Sheriff's Office, detectives also searched the home of Thomas Wheeler, 46, a retired Air Force master sergeant, of 540 Fox Loop, Davenport, according to the sheriff's office. He said he works as a security guard at Disney World's Animal Kingdom.

Detectives found numerous images of children between the ages of 9 and 11 years engaged in sexual activity. Wheeler told detectives that he had been viewing child pornography for several years out of curiosity, adding that he liked the images because of the "innocence" of the children.

Wheeler is charged with seven counts of possession of child pornography and distribution of child pornography.

Both men were booked into the Polk County Jail. Wheeler's bond was set at $64,000, and Freiberger's bond was set at $300,000, deputies said.

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