LUBBOCK, Texas — A married couple was sentenced to a combined 50 years in federal prison for the production and distribution of child pornography.

Jessica Roxanna Wheeler, 35, of Lubbock, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in November 2021, and her husband, Edward Lee Wheeler, 27, of Russell Springs, Kentucky, was sentenced to 30 years in prison Thursday.

Image of Edward Lee Wheeler from Lubbock Co. Detention Center

An investigation into the couple began in June 2020, when a family member reported discovering Facebook messages between Mr. Wheeler and Ms. Wheeler discussing sexual acts with a 13-year-old relative. The couple later admitted to abusing the child in plea papers, a news release said.

The following is a news release from The United States Department of Justice.

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, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Chad E. Meacham.

Edward Lee Wheeler, 27, of Russell Springs, KY, pleaded guilty in September 2021 to production of child pornography and was sentenced Thursday to 30 years in federal prison. His wife, Jessica Roxanna Wheeler, 35, of Lubbock, pleaded guilty in October 2020 to receipt and distribution of child pornography and was sentenced in November 2021 to 20 years in federal prison.

The investigation began in June 2020, when a family member called law enforcement to report he had discovered Facebook messages between Mr. Wheeler and Ms. Wheeler discussing sexual acts with a 13-year-old relative.  

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

Mr. Wheeler, they admitted, 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 enhancers’ performance. Ms. Wheeler took the photos and sent them to her husband.  

According to Facebook messages, Mr. 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 European agency that would conduct medical testing on the baby. (Such an agency does not exist.) Mr. Wheeler told Ms. Wheeler the agency had offered him $42 billion; Ms. Wheeler told the child they were considering going through with the deal.  

At the sentencing hearing, prosecutors explained that both Mr. Wheeler and Ms. Wheeler knew the “enhancers” did not work and the “agency” did not exist, but concocted the elaborate fantasy as an “escape from reality.”

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

The Lubbock Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Dallas Field Office – Lubbock Resident Agency, and Homeland Security Investigations’ Dallas Field Office conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Havelock Police Department in Havelock, NC, the Bowling Green Police Department in Bowling Green, KY, the Russell Springs Sheriff’s Office in Russell Springs, KY, and the FBI’s Louisville Field Office – Bowling Green and Lexington Resident Agencies. Assistant U.S. Attorney Callie Woolam prosecuted the case.