Criminal Justice

Mystery Deepens re Ex-GOP Aide Yale Law Grad, Disoriented and Coatless Before Murder


The mystery has deepened in the seemingly unlikely murder of a former Republican aide in three presidential administrations whose body was found in a Delaware landfill on New Year’s Eve.

In the days before his death, military defense consultant John Wheeler III, 66, was repeatedly seen wandering in a disoriented and disheveled state around Wilmington, apparently looking for his car, according to NBC Philadelphia.

The article links to video of the 1975 Yale Law School graduate in the New Castle County Courthouse parking garage on King Street in Wilmington on Dec. 29, holding one of his shoes in his hand and coatless despite the 34-degree weather. He was trying to find his car, an attendant tells the station, but when she asked him where his ticket was he said it was in his briefcase, which had been stolen. In fact, authorities say, his car was at the Amtrak parking garage in Wilmington, where Wheeler reportedly had gotten off a train from Washington, D.C., a day earlier.

Wheeler showed no sign of being under the influence and appeared the next day, wearing different clothes, in the Nemours building in Wilmington, again seemingly disoriented. Several people offered to help him, but he refused their assistance. Seen there as late as 8:30 p.m., he wasn’t seen again until a worker spotted his dead body the next day on a garbage truck dumping its load at a landfill about 13 hours later, reports the Wilmington News Journal.

A previous article in the newspaper noted that a neighbor had previously heard the television set inside Wheeler’s home in New Castle blaring for several days, even though it seemed that neither he nor his wife, who works in New York, was there.

The FBI is now involved in the probe, which is being overseen by police in Newark, Del. That is where Wheeler’s body was apparently left in a commercial trash bin in a shopping area before it was picked up by the truck.

However, a spokesman for the FBI field office in Baltimore describes the agency’s role as low-key, reports the News Journal. The FBI is involved because Wheeler, who is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, served as a special assistant to the secretary of the Air Force between 2007 and 2009.

Additional coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Body of Murdered Ex-GOP Official, a Yale Law Grad, Is Found in Del. Landfill”

ABAJournal.com: “Police Search for Clues, Seek Public’s Help, in Slaying of Ex-GOP Official and Yale Law Grad”

Philadelphia Inquirer: “Man found in landfill tied to arson attempt”

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