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Press Release

Wildwood Man Sentenced to 60 Months in Prison on Child Pornography Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Missouri

ST. LOUIS – U.S. District Judge Catherine D. Perry on Friday sentenced a man from Wildwood, Missouri to 60 months in prison for possessing and transporting child pornography.

Matthew Ryan O’Connell, 31, was also ordered to pay $10,000 restitution to one of the victims who appeared in the child sexual abuse material he collected.

A St. Louis County Police Department sergeant was investigating the use of online and cell phone apps to distribute child pornography in 2020 when someone contacted his undercover profile on “Grindr.” O’Connell told the sergeant that he was into young boys and said he had a collection of child sexual abuse material. He later sent images containing child sexual abuse material via the Kik and Wickr apps. 

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children also notified the St. Louis County Police Department that someone had used Snapchat to send images containing child sexual abuse material. A detective traced the material to O’Connell and applied for a search warrant. A Homeland Security Investigations agent, who was also investigating O’Connell, joined the search. Investigators found child sexual abuse material on O’Connell’s two cell phones and the laptop he hid under a treadmill when officers arrived to perform the search.

O’Connell pleaded guilty in May to one felony count each of transportation of child pornography and possession of child pornography. The transportation charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison.

The St. Louis County Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Costantin prosecuted the case. 

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Department of Justice Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

Updated October 6, 2023

Project Safe Childhood