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Couple Sentenced to 50 Years Combined in Federal Prison for Sharing Sexually Explicit Photos of 13-Year-Old Relative


Jessica Roxanna Wheeler (L); Edward Lee Wheeler (R)

Husband and wife Edward Lee Wheeler, 27, and Jessica Roxanna Wheeler, 35, have been sentenced to a combined 50 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to producing and sharing explicit sexual photos of a 13-year-old relative, giving her sexual “enhancement” supplements, and making plans to sell any baby she conceived for $42 billion.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, an investigation was opened in June 2020 in Lubbock, Texas when a family member reported seeing explicit Facebook messages sent by the Wheelers to their 13-year-old relative. Some of these Facebook messages, sent over the course of several months, described Mr. Wheeler engaging in sexual acts with the child, while others involved sexually explicit photos of the child.

Edward Wheeler often pretended to be other people, and directed his wife to engage in sexual intercourse with other men. He also directed his wife to engage in sexual activity with the child, and told the child that he needed to have sex with her as well.

The Wheelers also engaged in a discussion with the child about impregnating her with the plan of selling the infant to a fictitious medical testing agency in Europe. Mr. Wheeler told his wife that this fake agency offered him $42 billion for the child, and Ms. Wheeler told the child relative that they were considering making the deal.

After the investigation was completed, federal prosecutors charged the Wheelers with production of child pornography, a violation of 18 U.S.C. §2251(a).

In court documents, Mr. Wheeler admitted to abusing the child when the defendant was 24 years old and living in Russell Springs, Kentucky. Mr. Wheeler said he logged into his wife’s Facebook account and pretended to be two women and a 13-year-old boy.

“In one of the messages, Jessica made it clear that Edward had already had sex with Doe [the victim] previously and Doe did not enjoy it,” documents said.

Afterward, Mr. Wheeler bought the child over-the-counter supplements to purportedly enhance her sexual performance before sending additional explicit photos.

Later, at the sentencing hearing, prosecutors told the court that the Wheelers knew that both the “enhancers” and the “agency” were fake, but had created the story as “an escape from reality.”

Edward Wheeler pleaded guilty in September 2021 to production of child pornography, and was sentenced Thursday to 30 years in federal prison. Jessica Wheeler pleaded guilty in September 2020 and was sentenced in November 2021 to 20 years in federal prison.

The Department of Justice says the child is currently living out of state and receiving psychological care.

[Jessica Roxanna Wheeler via images via Lubbock County, Texas Detention Center, Edward Lee Wheeler via Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office.]

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos