Investigators have determined that former Pentagon official John Wheeler III was alive as late as 8:30 p.m. December 30th, hours before his body was discovered in a Wilmington landfill.
Police are reviewing surveillance images provided by the DuPont company taken at the Nemours Building at 10th and Orange Streets, where several people tried to offer assistance to Wheeler on December 30th. He appeared to be in a disoriented state, but declined offers of help.
It is not known if Wheeler was there any later than 8:30 p.m. December 30th because he left the range of security cameras, according to Newark Police Lieutenant Mark Farrall. Newark is the lead agency in the case. Wheeler’s body was left in a dumpster somewhere in Newark, which was emptied the morning of December 31st. The body was discovered at Wilmington’s Cherry Island landfill.
On December 29th, Wheeler approached a worker at the Colonial Parking garage at the New Castle County Courthouse, 5th and King Streets. (see video above) He was in a disheveled state and was holding one of his shoes. Wheeler’s car was in a different parking lot near the Wilmington Amtrak station. Earlier that day he entered a pharmacy near his home in New Castle and asked for a ride to Wilmington, but left when the pharmacist offered to call him a cab instead.
Varying accounts portray Wheeler as confused, saying he was robbed, but also indicating he did not need money.
Wheeler was 66 years old when he died. He served in the administrations of three Presidents, was a defense department consultant, led a fundraising effort for the Vietnam War memorial, and held a leadership role with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Wheeler had been involved in a dispute with a property owner who received approval to build a large house across from his home that blocked his view of New Castle’s Battery Park and the Delaware River. Authorities are looking into a December 28th incident in which a smoke bomb was set off at the new home, which is still under construction.
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Anyone who can assist in the investigation is asked to call Newark Police Detective Nicholas Sansone at 302-366-7110 ext. 135. An anonymous text message tip can be sent to 302NPD and the message to TIP411. Also, information may be provided to Delaware Crime Stoppers at 800-TIP-3333.