LUBBOCK (CBSDFW.COM) — A married couple has been sentenced to a combined 50 years in federal prison for producing and distributing sexually explicit images of a minor relative in Texas.

Edward Wheeler, 27, of Russell Springs, KY, pleaded guilty in 2021 to production of child pornography and was sentenced on January 13 to 30 years in federal prison. His wife, Jessica Wheeler, 35, of Lubbock, pleaded guilty in 2020 to receipt and distribution of child pornography and was sentenced in 2021 to 20 years in federal prison.

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The investigation began during the summer of 2020, when a family member called law enforcement to report he had discovered Facebook messages between the couple discussing sexual acts with a 13-year-old relative.

In plea papers, the couple admitted to abusing the child.

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Edward Wheeler admitted he and his wife gave the child over-the-counter supplements – which he called “enhancers” – that he claimed were activated through sexual activity. (These “enhancers” were not real.) He claimed he needed sexually explicit images of the child to track the so-called enhancers’ performance. Jessica Wheeler took the photos and sent them to her husband.

According to Facebook messages, Edward Wheeler also engaged in sexual acts with the child. At one point, the couple discussed impregnating the child so that they could sell the infant to a nonexistent European agency that would conduct medical testing on the baby. Edward Wheeler told his wife the agency had offered him $42 billion; Jessica Wheeler told the child they were considering going through with the deal.

During sentencing, prosecutors explained that the pair knew the “enhancers” did not work and the “agency” did not exist, but concocted the fantasy as an “escape from reality.”

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The abused child is currently living out of state and receiving psychological care.

CBSDFW.com Staff